Recommendations for Beginner Netflix Shows?

Hi all -

I’m working on my Japanese listening ability, and I’d like to watch Japanese TV shows on Netflix. Does anyone have any recommendations for non-anime Netflix TV shows for beginners/lower intermediate levels? I’m a bit burned out on anime and will be more motivated if it’s a live-action show. Ideally it would be a show that’s not just for kids.

I’m currently able to watch Shirokuma Cafe with subtitles and understand 80% of it. But I’m never motivated to watch it…I’d like to find something live action that is at that level. I’m also starting to wean myself off subtitles. I’ve started watching some movies that are based on high school slice of life, and that seems to be slightly too difficult, but it’s okay. Without subtitles, I understand maybe 25% of what’s said, but I get the gist of what’s happening. Maybe if I found a slice of life tv show, I could work my way up with that.

Any recommendations?


Most of the original Japanese content non-Anime stuff on Netflix is geared towards adults (“Midnight Diner,” “Followers,” “Erased,” etc.) and expect adult-level comprehension.

“Good Morning Call” is a cute romantic comedy series. The main characters are high schoolers, so that is a slightly lower level. “Terrace House” is mostly casual conversation and level varies. If you like reality TV maybe check that out.

Anime is more likely to have stuff aimed at younger audiences and so with easier Japanese. If you’re willing to give some Anime a try, there are a few movies I would recommend: “Mirai” is lovely, as is “Okko’s Inn.” I also enjoyed the 3D animation “Pokemon Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution” (the only Pokemon movie available in Japanese on Netflix), but that was mostly for nostalgic reasons. :slight_smile:


Yeah, I’m finding that most of it is geared towards adults. I can check out Good Morning Call.

I started watching Terrace House. I’m not really into reality TV but I was able to understand 25% of it and get the gist, so maybe I’ll just get better with time.

I used to love anime a lot when I was younger, but now I just can’t seem to motivate myself. But I LOVE Miyazaki films. Are there any good anime shows that have a similar feel to Miyazaki that is geared towards beginners?

Hard enough to find anything that comes close to it, now geared towards beginners… I don’t know any :expressionless:
Erased wasn’t that hard honestly, since the protagonists are kids, maybe give it a try.

Erased is a very nice show. I only understood bits and pieces, but it at least held my attention. My listening comprehension is far below my reading/grammar level, though.

I would still recommend Midnight Diner because every slice-of-life episode is self-contained and includes a lot of everyday conversation. They’re short enough… maybe try watching an ep once with subtitles, then again without? Plus the opening and ending themes are so soothing that I never skip over them!


I’ve been eyeing that one! I probably will watch it with subtitles, and try to understand it all. :slight_smile:

did this yesterday, they are not quite beginner-friendly but really great for falling in love with Japanese shows (then you would fall in love with learning japanese, quite strategic ww)

the naked director (NSFW)
great pretender
lie in april
Great teacher onizuka
Prison school

スマホを落としただけなのに / Stolen Identity
ボーダー / BORDER
シグナル / Signal
宇宙を駆けるよだか / Switched
僕だけがいない街 / erased

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Hmm, that’s tough. I subscribe to Crunchyroll, which has a lot bigger selection than Netflix and I still can’t think of any series that both have the feel of a Miyazaki film and are geared towards beginners.

A few Anime series I loved for the world building similar to Miyazaki films (but not sure about level, and I think most are not on Netflix):

  • Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
  • Gingitsune (probably the easiest language-wise)
  • Somali and the Forest Spirit
  • The World is Still Beautiful
  • Flying Witch (technically set in rural Japan, but MC is a witch in training, similar feel to Kiki / Totoro)

For intermediate level, I have also been watching a lot of sports / game-related Anime. They tend to have very understandable casual conversations and then very technically-detailed conversations about whatever the sport / game is.

Recommended sports / game Anime (in no particular order):

  • Major 2nd (Baseball)
  • MIX (Baseball)
  • Ace of Diamond (Baseball)
  • Days (Soccer)
  • Chihayafuru (Karuta)
  • Hikaru no Go (Go)
  • Saki (Mahjong)

All Studio Ghibli movies are great, of course, too!


Thank you so much everyone for your responses. I will take a look at them! I really appreciate these lists, wow, thank you for writing those out. :slight_smile:

And of course, if anyone has any other suggestions, I’m all ears.

I have been enjoying ‘Japanese Style Originator’. A panel of (presumably Japanese celebs) watches a presentation about some aspect of Japanese culture and answers questions about it. I’ve seen one about tempura restaurants, and also amazing Japanese gardens, and also traditional craftsmen making candles and other things. I’ve watched it with just the Japanese subtitles to try and hear a few words. But even if you watch it with the English subtitles, quite a lot is written on the screen in Japanese and you can ‘spot the kanji’. I like it a lot, though it’s obviously waay above my head! But I love what’s being discussed (moss gardens mmm) so it’s a million times better for me than watching some anime.

Also I have been watching Alice in Borderland. It’s a bit daft and a bit gruesome so far but I like that it’s set in a city and you can spot the kanji in the signposts etc. I do understand a few words spoken here and there which is fun.

Earlier in the year I watched ‘Giri/Haji’ which was a superb story, but it was before I started learning any Japanese. So I might watch that again and see what I can pick up. It’s set in London and Tokyo and is a sort of thriller, it’s very good.

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