It’s been somewhat over two years since I started learning japanese and I’ve reached probably my biggest milestone so far, the main reason for my interest in the language has become now something I can enjoy in japanese.
I’m talking about Akira Kurosawa’s films.
It all started with this box set given as a present, like when DVD collections were a thing …
I was heavy into film and film history some years ago and Kurosawa’s films were this big reference for so many great current movies. Watched then Seven Samurais, Youjinbo and then some couple more and I was hooked…
Years have gone by after I even considered the idea of learning japanese, progressively went from textbooks and learner’s material to basic content aimed at japanese kids, then some more mature stuff (like middle school I’m talking ) were a possibility for my reading skills and then I met this great piece of software: Voracious.
This way I can basically watch my shows with the possibility of repeating scenes line by line to inspect those dialogues by means of the japanese subtitles. You must have a video file and then the matching subtitles with selectable text in order to work its magic .
It has an integrated dictionary in english and then you can add monolingual dictionaries too. There’s also Anki connect integration for making cards on the spot with any new words you encounter (which is basically what my SRS is nowadays).
The platform looks something like this (when picking up words for exporting):
In any case since japanese subs aren’t so easy to obtain outside of Netflix (which is the main source for my media in this set up) I never thought too much about enjoying the same experience with my old movies.
Long story short(er), I found this small collection of japanese subtitles made of some shows and specially movies, where the entire Kurosawa collection was available .
Subs are though in what is a common format for japanese subs that come in DVDs, image based lines, meaning non selectable text, which for language apps in not extremely useful.
Fortunately enough this guy created a nice app for applying OCR to this kind of subs and deliver text selectable subs in the format of a .srt file.
After transfering the DVD content into my computer (in the format of a disk image) I located a nice tool to smoothly convert that to a regular mkv file, which works properly in Voracious (sadly this program won’t work on any video file, so it’s better to check the website to make sure you have a suitable formated and encoded video).
That’s all for the technical details!!
Now all 25 films in the collection have matched subs. It took quite some time to do all the proper file conversions, but luckely, that didn’t included aligning time stamps in the subs, which was my biggest fear when I started planning this.
Last days I’ve gone over Seven Samurais once more and it was incredible.
This 3 hour film took me about double that over 3 days. …
Some 100 new vocab in Anki came from this too, considering I didn’t add super obscure vocab (including some really archaic kanji) or words that were easy enough to assimilate once seen the kanjis that made them.
I don’t know when, listening wise or even vocab wise, my japanese could have been on point for me to get all those nuances in the dialogues and go pass the noticeable lower quality on sound that old movies have, so I feel I took a HUGE shortcut in what I thought was needed to even aproach this kind of material.
Have been using this setup regularly with jdramas last months, so I’m getting more and more used to mumbled voices and fast speech… but this movie was something else altogether.
So, yeah. That’s 1 of 25 movies to go… I think I have enough to keep me busy for some time.
I guess I’ve decided to make this wall of text style of post 'cause (I never got to make one of those level 60 post and) I’m kinda proud of this sort of goal achievement moment.
Besides that, I know there’re some people (scarce few probably) whom main interest in japanese ain’t anime (in which case all this comes so much easy ) and are film buffs as well. I wouldn’t count on finding too many movies in the website I used. Actually there’s the chance that Netflix Japan could have a given movie too, in which case it’s way simpler to just access that than going through all this (you can just make a quick search here and find out). Also a lot of Japanese movies sold in Japan will have japanese subs… the rest of the setup could work exactly the same, so there’s that in case anyone else feels like exploring some uncharted waters …
I might be adding some updates in this thread as I move forward with the collection. I have the slight impression that this will be a long journey…
Here’s the link for all 25 movies subtitles. I’ve also removed those in parenthesis words made for hear impairment porpuses.