Extensive listening challenge 👂 (2022)

I stop watching shows/movies and stop audiobooks if I find my attention is drifting too much and I’m not actually listening. It feels like wasted content to me I guess. I’m consuming this media because I enjoy it, so if I’m not enjoying it why continue? And on a secondary level I’m listening to learn, and if I’m not actually listening I’m certainly not learning.

But like, occasional boredom and missing a sentence here and there? Yeah that’s no big deal and similar to how I watch/listen to things in English. I actually listen to audiobooks while out on walks so depending on how heavy traffic (or other noise) is while I’m out and about I definitely miss some sentences just from not being able to hear.

Re stopping point: I suspect audiobooks are fairly similar to drama CDs, but maybe not. In any case, if I’m not tired I go to the end of the chapter. If I am tired (or busy or whatever) I just stop where ever and let future me deal with it. :stuck_out_tongue:

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That makes a lot of sense. I guess, if I feel like I can snap back to focused listening I continue, but if I start waver in my attention again and again I’ll call it a day? :thinking:

I haven’t given audiobooks a try yet. Not even in my native language. I happened to find out about Japanese drama CDs before I had the chance, and now that I know thre’s a theatrical form/drama adaption of stories with full cast, music and sfx, just listening to someone read a story out loud seems a bit…lacking? At any rate, it’s a different medium. The same distinction as between books and stage theatre really.

I guess, my love of seiyuu also plays a role, as I love to hear their acting performaces. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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If it’s anything to entice you to the dark side (of audiobooks?) I’ve noticed that some famous seiyuu also do voice acting for books. Those ones I’ve noticed tend to be more dramatically produced. For example I love the audiobook for かがみの孤城 (audiobook trailer) and I recall there being some famous seiyuu in 永遠のゼロ (trailer) which is a war story and had plenty of audio effects during the veterns’ recounting of events.

But yeah, different strokes for different folks. I can see myself getting into drama CDs at some point, just haven’t made the effort to investigate the genre. Podcasts on the other hand, I don’t like in English or Japanese. :person_shrugging:

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I really need to do my research here! I’m defo checking out audiobooks in the future. :slight_smile: I’m sure I can find something I’ll fall in love with. :headphones:

But, yeah, I’ve tried podcasts, but they don’t really work for me. It’s not a language thing, but rather, they don’t keep my attention. I was never much for radio talkshows etc, so looking for that content in Japanese is pushing it probably.

I want my story! :triumph:

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So, I have been making some effort at listening to something every day, and I’m proud of that, but it’s been a mix of flitting between shows and, primarily, spending a whole bunch of time on whatever I stumble upon on Youtube. Mostly because whatever I try is largely under the threshold of tolerable ambiguity, heh.

I’ve been meaning to ask, since a lot of you seem significantly further along in your listening abilities than me, would you say you did anything in particular to work on your listening, or was it just a function of lots and lots of time? Obviously lots of time is inevitable regardless. What’s kind of catching me is while I’m willing to just keep on listening for whatever parts I can comprehend, in practice, I find that difficult. I don’t really have problems focusing on reading or any other studying, but my listening comprehension is patchy in most places, and the real problem I’m noticing recently is that once I start losing the thread of what is being said (which, depending on the material, usually doesn’t take long heh), it’s super hard to keep the discipline to actually focus on picking out what I can.

While I’m here, for the sake of the thread focus, I will share that I’ve been watching a decent bit of RTA in Japan, Japanese videogame speedrunning (which I learned about from @VikingSchism, thanks a bunch). Comprehension varies and is rarely as good as I’d like, but because speedruns are just fun to watch, it’s good material for when you might be missing chunks. Also, I already knew this, but wow, speedrunners are impressive.

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Yes, lots of time, but also, smart use of said time. :smiley:
For me breaking into listening was a combo of:

  • Audio flashcards
  • Blind listening followed by read-along listening
  • Lots of normal read-along listening

Audio flashcards:
So if you happen to have access to ~files~ through whatever means you can make excellent audio flashcards for Anki using Subs2SRS. There are also premade decks out there but I am not sure if I can share that link on this forum.
I suspended a ton of cards because they were too hard and highly recommend that over banging your head against a leech because you just. don’t. get it. :face_exhaling: Can always un-suspend later. ya know?

Blind reading:
What I mean by this is listen to a story/chapter/article once without looking at the text or any visuals. I just followed as much as I could and tried not to lose the thread. Then I’d listen to it again, with text aid. I’d look up words as needed. When I felt I understood, I relistened again blind. It’s really important to try to find something you expect will already be a comprehensible level for you reading so you’re just tuning your ear and not struggling to understand grammar and vocab. I thought Satori Reader was really good for this, and IIRC some of the news sites have narrated articles? Audiobooks are great if you can find ones at the right level and some JP hardsubbed youtube channels are good (I remember using this scary story channel a lot…)

Read alongs:
I still do this a ton. I read books with narration / alongside the audiobook. I don’t count that as listening hours, but I do think it helps train my ear, albeit to a lesser extent than the other methods.

I honestly think the first method helped me actually break through the wall of omg-they-speak-so-fast-why-can’t-I-catch-any-of-it and the second one built my stamina for longer listening sessions.

Hope that’s helpful and looking forward to seeing what others did :smiley:

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Very much appreciate all of the ideas, thank you! Been thinking about it a little and I’m going to do my best to use some of this.

Audio flashcards, as helpful as they sound, probably have to at least wait until the future because between Wanikani and mining words in reading, I’m at the SRS saturation point. If I either finish WK or bail early, I’ll think about it then. The other two I’m going to do my best to work with though, and I appreciate those resources too! Used Satori Reader reader in the past, and I did make a bit of a listening effort, but at that time I was still in the “I have to make any Japanese make sense at all” zone so I was more focused on the reading comprehension side, heh.

I’m not in the worst position now – if I go to something like learner listening material, it’s not a big deal. I moved up past Nihongo con Teppei to the podcast he does with Noriko and I find that not so bad either, and that’s a step up in speed and whatnot from the usual slowed down learner things. It’s just hard to break through the wall of “real” Japanese through some combination of natural (or put on role type) speech being less clear, not knowing words so well that I can follow them at full speed / without kanji, etc. Still gotta just get better at processing Japanese with less time spent and learning more words too. I’ll be working on it, incorporating some of your ideas for sure. :slight_smile:

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I watched a couple more old movies!

雨月物語 (Ugetsu)
I had really really high hopes for this given how much I’ve enjoyed other period ghost movies in the past, and they were largely met! The movie’s very well put together, with frequent gorgeous shots (the boat sequence in the mist is lovely!) and clear storytelling that suits the fairy tale like subject matter, about Sengoku-period commoners seeking money and glory and losing sight of supporting the lives they already had in the process. It’s the first movie I’ve seen from the extremely well-regarded director, Kenji Mizoguchi, and I’d like to see more.

I think the only thing stopping it from absolutely meeting my lofty expectations, is that compared to other movies that I’ve enjoyed like Kwaidan, Kuroneko, or Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan, this one is older and I’d say has less of an element of strangeness. Like the vibe is 100% “classic,” which makes for a plenty great movie but maybe satisfies less the part of me wanting weird or cult horror (through no actual fault). The supernatural stuff that is there is awfully cool though! (Love the scenes with the ghost of the father) I enjoyed it very much but didn’t outright love it the way I did the other movie I watched that night (the kung fu movie King Boxer / Five Fingers of Death), which just speaks to where my headspace was at at the time and my expectations going in more than the movie itself.

One major qualm I do have is it’s very much a movie about husbands’ actions and growth where their wives’ role in the story is largely to suffer heavy consequences of those actions to elicit that growth. The wives themselves are interesting and sympathetic and well-acted (the wife who is raped and goes to work in a brothel after her husband abandons her for counterfeit military glory comes across as the most competent person in the movie by the end) and I would have preferred if they were more the focus of the movie themselves instead of just a vector for the husbands to bumble into life lessons. Oh well.

I watched Ugetsu with Japanese subtitles from a Japanese blu-ray - and I could do that pretty much without thinking about it, which is cool!

張込み (Stakeout)
This is another movie from the Criterion Channel’s set of Japanese noir movies. I hadn’t ever heard of it before and had no real expectations based on the bland name, but I saw that it’s adapted from a short story, so I thought why not - might as well read that first (it’s the first one in this collection). And I’m really glad I did because seeing how the story was adapted added a really fascinating layer of context to the movie!

The short story is very simple and straightforward: a detective takes a train from Yokohama to Kyushu in order to stakeout the house of a murder suspect’s former lover who is now a housewife with step children, on the hunch that the suspect will make contact with her. He does, and the suspect and housewife run off to a hot spring together, leading to a chase followed by an arrest, and the detective notes that in all the time he observed her, she only seemed full of life with the suspect, but he makes sure she isn’t caught up in the arrest and gives her the means to go back to her regular life in time for nobody to realize she was gone. The end.

After reading it, I wondered idly how you would adapt that into a movie. Not being a screenwriter, I came up with no particular ideas, and if somehow hired for the task anyway, would have produced an 80 minute bland retelling of what happened in the book.
Fortunately – it turns out the screenwriter for this movie is Shinobu Hashimoto, an extremely well-versed screenwriter and frequent Akira Kurosawa collaborator, incl. on Seven Samurai, adapting Rashomon, etc. So it’s very safe to say he knew exactly what he was doing and was far, far better suited to the task than me, a non-writer who spent like ten minutes thinking about it.
The result makes for a really interesting case study in how to adapt story like this.
The movie makes several major changes – all of which I think strongly benefit the movie:

  1. Instead of one detective, it’s two detectives on the stakeout. This one’s obvious in retrospect - it’s a movie, there needs to be someone to talk to!
  2. Heavily emphasize the weather and heat of the Kyushu summer. There’s basically no scene in the movie without fans or cicadas or someone complaining about the heat, or trying to cool off. This injects a ton of life into the movie both by making the setting sensory and evocative and by ramping up the tension – how do you show sitting around waiting for something to happen is tense? Make the act of sitting around palpably miserable because of how hot it is.
  3. Fill out some subplots. The movie adds the background that the detective is trying to decide whether to marry his girlfriend despite difficulties they would have supporting themselves or go with a comfortable match put together by his family, giving him a clear arc based on what he observes on the stakeout as he decides to marry his girlfriend at the end of the movie, and it also adds more interaction with the staff of the in where the detectives stay, adding tension as the staff wonder who these mysterious layabouts are, and additional perspective on the theme of the movie once the tension is resolved and the innkeeper gives her perspective on women’s married life to the protagonist.
  4. Add more false alarms – the short story oddly doesn’t really have these. They go a long way to fill out the runtime and make the tension of the wait come across and make for some tense sequences all on their own (like the downpour scene or the bus scene I think are great)

The result is something that’s both a very faithful rendition of the original story, that also works particularly well for film. I saw afterward he won multiple industry awards for this screenplay at the time, so I guess it wasn’t just me who was impressed!

That process of going in with no expectations really at all and finding something interesting was very satisfying! It’s still a very simple story, that’s mostly about waiting, and I don’t like that it’s ultimately about a man feeling he knows a woman’s heart just by watching her, but I never found it uninteresting because you see a whole lot of 1950s Japan, from a whole train ride south, to a lot of Saga and the Kyushu countryside. That was present in the story too, but totally blossoms on screen. There’s also a great late title card.

I watched it on the criterion channel with English subtitles and didn’t do a very good job of remembering to try to not look at them. That probably doesn’t make for spectacular listening practice, which is ostensibly the point of the thread… but hopefully nobody minds if I post about these movies anyway.

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Love the write-up, thanks! I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for ages. I very much love the only Mizoguchi I’ve seen, Street of Shame. He’s still a bit of a blind spot for me in golden age Japanese cinema, which I really need to get around to.


So I’ve strayed from what I was doing in the past and have been continuing to idly watch things on Youtube, because my lessened comprehension is kind of a drag with TV and movies, but if I’m going in and out of catching things it matters less if the content is a little more frivolous. There are a few podcasts and the like I’ve stumbled onto like nogaradio… she gives people advice and stuff, I don’t have strong feelings from what I manage to understand, but I like that it’s someone just talking relatively off the cuff about mostly straightforward life topics for an hour straight. Beating my head against the listening wall.

On that note, @pocketcat (sorry I constantly tag you these days :sweat_smile:) I realized just how short 雪女 is so I gave that a listen on Youtube at your recommendation! Overall… not so bad? The thing is, I feel like I knew the vast majority of the words, which is good proof that perhaps my reading level is a little more intermediate than I want to admit, cause I think I would be able to read it just fine, and I’ll come back to try that eventually, but I might listen another time or two first. And I could even pick up lots of sentences, though there were holes. This was spoken pretty evenly and slowly, so I imagine my issues elsewhere are, above all else, speed and also the way natural speech slurs and changes sounds. Not a shocking revelation I guess, but worth knowing. No doubt unknown words play in sometimes too, but that can get particularly annoying… do I know the words I’m failing to follow or not?

I just have a bit of an attention issue with listening to Japanese; I have to fight to not drift off and when I am paying close attention it feels like even if I grasp the sentences I can’t hold the story in my head, things pop out too quickly. I only really knew what was happening cause Kwaidan primed me to know where the story goes, so I could map the sentences to the memories. But I’m guessing that’s somewhat a natural product of this just being still cognitively demanding for me. Doesn’t make it less annoying, haha.

All the same, progress? If nothing else, I’m stubbornly continuing to do it, though listening is definitely more of a drag than reading for me at this stage.

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Yeah that’s something I went through too. It still happens if I try for content too over my head still. It’s like my brain just throws up its hands and goes “nope, not even gonna try” and I have to force it to pay attention and get what it can.
Glad 雪女 mostly worked out though! It’s probably quite useful to already be familiar with the story so your brain has more things to hook onto.

More reccs, cause I can't help myself

ゴン狐 (short story) is another popular folktale that has a faithful-to-Aozora reading if you’re interested. It hit me right in the feels though. You might also like 怪人二十面相 or 少年探偵団 (both novels) since you’re interested in Ranpo. Those are both aimed at kids so not nearly as hard as his novels and short stories for adults.

No worries about tagging, there’s several people (including you!) I do it to, too. :joy:

FWIW I kind of think YouTube is harder than TV shows and movies. A lot of youtubers speak fast and casual and change directions on their sentences halfway…just like English speakers do in everyday conversation. :stuck_out_tongue:
Are you listening to things with JP subs btw? You could try watching once with JP subs and then rewatching without the subs.

Also since I’m in the listening thread right now may as well report that I just finished だから、殺せなかった and it was a lot of fun! It was a touch over dramatic at times making it a little bit hard to take seriously, but the plot was great and it had three of my favorite actors/actresses. For a serial killer drama it was pretty low-gore and they kept the suspense at just the right level to make me always interested to see what would happen next.

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Much appreciate the recommendations again! This all looks good, I rather like the sound of 怪人二十面相 especially.

I gave 雪女 a second listen and think I did pretty well this time; there definitely are some words I don’t know but I caught big swathes of it. If I find the chance, I’ll give it a read and maybe relisten tomorrow. Somehow I’ve made it this far without learning 大層 (I mean, I had a feeling they weren’t doing gymnastics but that’s all I knew of… :sweat_smile:) so I picked up the general meaning through listening before checking, which is uncommon for me to be following closely enough to really do.

You’re probably right about Youtube, though there’s certainly variety. I just find getting totally lost in movies and shows disgruntles me a bit much, and the things I won’t get lost in are a bit of a narrow category as of now.

I use JP subs where possible, though it frequently isn’t. They at least show me that on something like Midnight Diner, while the way people speak is really challenging, there are also just a ton of words I don’t know, haha. Good to have that info. Anyway, I should do what you were suggesting more though, and just rewatch a little more in general. There’s probably more easier level anime with subs I could be watching but I got a bit burnt out on that for that moment.

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If you can deal with romcoms they are by far the easiest genre I’ve encountered. If you watch Viki the show “My Love Mix-Up!” (消えた初恋) I’ve watched several episodes of on low brain-power days and it’s pretty cute - but more importantly, relatively easy! BL + boy/girl cutesy high school thing. It looks like the first few episodes are fully subtitled in Japanese, but be aware that because it’s fan sourced (legally!) the quality can vary a lot and to not take it as solid-truth if it contradicts something you know.
I also watched the first few episodes of Risky quite some time ago and enjoyed it and just…forgot to finish it. That says nothing of quality - I do that constantly. :sweat_smile: It looks like it’s been fully subbed in JP. From what I remember it’s harder than 初恋 but still pretty accessible? It also is probably more the type of plot you’d like from what I saw.

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Oh, I didn’t know about that site, looks great! It’s not usually a genre I seek out, but I’m not opposed to cute. I’ll give them a shot! You’ve helped a whole lot with a bunch of things already; thank you so much.

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Oh this is great! I watched this show with English subs and picked up way more than I thought I would from just the audio, so I was thinking that it would be one of the more doable shows to watch entirely in Japanese. I’m really glad it’s available with Japanese subs! I’m still quite a ways out from really being able to watch something like this, but I’m making note of this to try watching in the future. I’ll feel much less pressured to fully understand everything, haha, since I’ve already watched it!

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So in addition to that, I finished 3年A組、今から皆さんは、人質です last night and it was also super fun. It very much followed a formula of tense opening → build up → emotionally climactic wrap up → set tension again for next episode but it didn’t get boring and constantly was peeling back new layers of the onion.

I watched with JP subs, but didn’t always need them - most characters spoke pretty clearly and by and large the vocabulary was a relatively small set. For me the most challenging part was reading text on screen while following spoken dialogue - because SNS played a decently big role in the show this was quite often.

I then watched the first episode of ダメな男じゃダメですか and don’t think I’ll continue it. Awkward comedies are pretty hard for me to watch and it’s looks like it will lean pretty heavily into that. If anyone is interested in it I will say that both the parents and the grandmother I had some issues understanding (dialect?) so for their scenes I only really caught the broad strokes of what was being said. Pretty much everyone else seems to talk normally.

Also watched the first episode of ミステリと言う勿れ which I think someone else in this thread was watching?! (@valkow ?) I’m probably going to continue this one, it seems fun, although watching it right after finishing 3年A組 feels a bit weird - 菅田将暉 (Suda Masaki) is the lead character in both and he delivers some lines almost identically for both characters.
It’s pretty easy to follow so far - the lead talks relatively slowly although he tends to monologue a bit. The only trouble I can see someone really running into is some stereotypical TV cop speak.

Annnnddd I’m up through episode 6 of ドクターホワイト. It’s continuing to be pretty run of the mill, but enjoyable. The acting is underwhelming, the villains seem pointlessly villainous, the medical mysteries seem awfully convenient, each episode wraps up so neatly, etc etc. I’m not sure I can even really recommend this for listening practice as it’s chock full of medical words, often delivered at high speed. Watch it if you enjoy silly medical dramas, otherwise you can probably skip it.

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I liked this one, too! Some of the young actors were less than great, but some were delightful, and the main character was fun. I agree about peeling back the onion and keeping things exciting. :smiley: (eta: if you liked Nagano Mei in this one, she is also great in ハコヅメ.)

Yes, me! I just finished watching ep7 today, so I am caught up. I’m really enjoying it a lot on its own merits (as in, trying not to compare it to the manga which is better). I think all the actors are great, the music is at times overdramatic, and the plots are fun. I feel like this is a hard manga to adapt to serial television, but they’re doing a good job so far. :+1: The only listening comprehension thing I can think of is that sometimes people speak very quickly, and also sometimes they talk about kanji (mostly in names).

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I’m now almost done with episode 3 and I thought of this. This show has a tendency to have scenes that feel like episode enders…multiple times per episode. It’s a bit disorienting. I’m still enjoying it, but I can definitely see that this is something they struggled a bit to adapt across mediums (haven’t read the manga, so no prior reference point for plot arcs).

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I caught up through episode 7 of ミステリと言う勿れ and now I have to wait for weekly episodes to come out :sob: Quite a few actors and actresses I like sprinkled throughout and fun (if sometimes a bit see-through) plot lines. I admit I was way more upset about the abused-child-turned-arsonist killing the cat than I was about him killing his “angel”. I’m also somewhat on the fence about whether or not ライカ is a real, live person.

I have been struggling a bit with some of 整’s longer monologues. I might eventually rewatch some of the episodes. It wasn’t enough for me to miss plot points but there were definitely a few ??? moments.

I still need to finish 桜の塔、最愛, Risky, サロモンの偽証, and うきわ so will probably prioritize finishing those while I wait on new episodes of ミステリ and ドクターホワイト.

Currently at 73 hours of listening done this year, or ~18% of my yearly listening goal.

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End of February update!

I did my Johnny’s group immersion challenge (Hey! Say! JUMP) and watched 10 variety episodes or behind the scenes videos, a drama (below), and a concert, plus a lot of music.

  1. 金田一少年の事件簿N
    Quality: ★★½
    Enjoyment: ★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★★

Despite the low quality rating, this is a kind of cheesy, possible low-budget mystery show that I generally have no problem enjoying for exactly what it is. However, in this one the main character, while interesting and fun in most aspects, is also a skeezeball who creeped me out frequently. That was the only big downside of this drama, but it was a big one! No specific problems in terms of listening comprehension.

I also just finished another drama: season one of おしゃ家ソムリエおしゃ子!

  1. おしゃ家ソムリエおしゃ子
    Quality: ★★★
    Enjoyment: ★★★★
    Ease of understanding: ★★★★

… This is a very, very silly show. :joy: Honestly I don’t know what to think about it rationally, but subjectively I enjoyed it a great deal and laughed a lot. Mostly the main character just goes around weaseling her way into men’s houses and then yelling a lot about how terrible they are in various ways.

Some silly caps of the silly show





This might have been my favorite episode: she goes to the room of someone living in a sharehouse for travelers and then just goes through and destroys all of them in turn.


SHE CAN ASTRAL PROJECT.


She has various inventions that all play on the word おしゃれ!


She will probably get the cops called on her at some point if she keeps this up.


Also she hangs out with these two all the time, and I love them.

Ahem, in terms of listening comprehension, there is a lot of very fast shouting… but it’s all about things that are shown on screen, so it maybe kind of evens out. There are also some made-up words. Sometimes I just let it wash over me. At some point I’ll watch season two.

In terms of airing dramas, I’m keeping up with ミステリと言う勿れ, working on catching up with 30までにとうるさくて, and trying out おいハンサム. I’m also trying ソロ活女子のススメ (because Eguchi Noriko), picking back up 恋です, and still inching my way through リバース. My March Johnny’s group is Snow Man, so I’m planning to watch 消えた初恋.

Finally, I didn’t make much progress with my audiobook, so I’ll have to push more on that in March.

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Was also my problem with it back when I watched it, the drama makes it way more exaggerated than the anime.

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