Mimi @ Chanpon
Anime and Learning Japanese Culture

In her master's thesis submitted to the East Asian Studies Center at USC, Annie Manion argues that among college students in the US, anime has become one of the most important drivers of interest in Japan and Japanese language study. Drawing from surveys and interviews of students taking Japanese language classes and anime club members, Manion suggests that "there is a good deal of overlap" between young people studying Japanese and those involved with the anime fan community. Over half of Japanese language students cited "understanding Japanese anime, music, etc." as one reason they are taking a Japanese class.

That's good since most people aren't studying Japanese for business reasons anymore.

48 Comments

I suppose I halfways count; back in the early 90s, I was into anything Japanese... martial arts, anime, music, etc., so that spurred me to learn the language.

However, after living in Japan for quite a while, and finding out exactly how silly some of the cartoons are when you understand them (for some reason, those things seemed less childish with english subtitles), I'm pretty much turned off anime now. (Mr. Miyazaki's work excluded, of course!) :)

It would be nice to see how the anime-inspired students are spread among length of study. In my first year of Japanese class, I would say about half the class was into anime. By the end, there was only one student who watched anime. Of course, by the end, there were only four students total, but it makes me wonder whether anime-inspired Japanese students might have more tendancy to give up on the language when the anime-watching benefits aren't realized as quickly or as fully as they had imagined.

Interesting specific case for a general example: people learn when they are motivated to do so. I cant think of any of my English speaking Japanese friends who were motivated to learn English by watching The Simpsons, but I have a few who were motivated by Hollywood movies and one who was motivated because he liked redheads.

Cam, Scott,

You guys both nailed it. I was once interested in the Final Fantasy game series until I knew enough to realize it was all a bunch of childish crap.

I, for one, am pretentious enough to scoff at people learning Japanese for Anime. They're dangerously close to those who say, "I like anime and some vague Western interpretation of Shintoism. Ergo, I am an expert on Japan."

Cause in college, I can't get away from those people.

While I'm all for *anything* that spurs cross-cultural exploration and learning, I must say the whole "western kid learning japanese cause they're into anime" is just as stigmatising as the "white guy into asian girls" junk. Gaijin otaku. Uuuugh. ;p

lol every white guy learning japanese is never a normal white guy.they are always obssessed with something japanese like anime or something.They are never learning japanese for the language itself.they ar emotivated by girls or anime or something shallow.its never for the appreciation of japanese language or culture itself.If Koreans made anime or whatever and not japanese trust me every white guy or girl would want to learn it.Not for the language itself.Makes me so mad, i get irritated by it.They have no genuine respect for japanese whatsoever,its just for the anime.ughhh lol or girls or something god why is that. not awe inspiring indeed.White people try to get japanese friends, and all they talk about is anime and shit or tokyo drift or whatever.Not all but i would say most.makes me sad lol. Well at least when they learn korean there is a genuine interest,not about anime or whatever lol.

hello umm "neo". I'm not "obsessed" with everything Japanese. So I guess I am insulted by your response, because it is very stereotypical, I guess. Yes I'm interested in Japanese for anime and manga purposes... doesn't mean I obsess over everything Japanese, think Japan is the best country evar, and so on. I'd like to know a little bit more about it, and other nations and countries, so on and so forth. I don't see anything wrong with being interested in culture in general, with these things as an art form, understanding them in their original language.

Another way to look at it is if people like me get into some type of art form, whether it's anime or not, and then learn to appreciate the place it comes from, then that's just another thing learned. I think it's cool, learning about other places. I don't know if it's really healthy obsessing over Japan, or any other place, because then your view is biased on what you like, ignoring things that might be bad, stuff like that.

and yes I found this entry while googling for something so I could understand how Japan views anime/manga. It turns out its very looked down on.. from what I've read. It sucks that anything people like that doesn't harm others has to be looked down on, in this world.

What could possibly be good about studying Japanese so you can understand anime & manga? When I started studying in 1992, most of the students were business or comp sci majors, with some art students and a few martial arts freaks. They all achieved high levels of fluency and almost all of them went on to live and work in Japan for a lengthy time.
Over the next decade, the classes became filled with anime dorks, who all had one thing in common: they all gave up their studies at a relatively low level and never attained even a basic level of fluency. I know many skilled instructors who gave up teaching due to their frustration at the decreasing quality of the students, and the dumbing down of the curriculum. The 4 year program I took now takes 6 years.
Attaining fluency in Japanese requires extreme persistence, something unheard of in the short-attention-span anime generation. It requires you to immerse yourself in a foreign culture and to think in ways you never thought before. Unfortunately, the anime dorks want to immerse themselves in imaginary cultures and think in ways that cartoon authors think. This is a prescription for cultivating idiocy.
Ultimately, the reason foreign languages are taught in US schools is not because they expect students to attain fluency. Languages are taught because English education is generally poor, and grappling with linguistic concepts in a foreign language forces students to examine their understanding of their native language. This is a radical departure from the conventional view of language instruction, which has as its goal the practical use of language in interaction with people from foreign cultures. This is why the current trends in Japanese language student populations is so troubling; the new students do not want to interact with Japanese people, they only want to interact with anime, manga, and videogames.

Charles, I don't think that that is a fair analysis. Of course something like anime making inroads into the general Western pop culture will attract more casual learners (who are undoubtedly scared off by the conjugations, politeness levels, kanji, etc.), but that is not to say that no one who entered from that point sticks with it. In Japan I met a few foreign people who spoke quite good Japanese who got into it because of some geeky pop culture thing. One of them, an American who was quite fluent, had come to Japan to learn the art of drawing manga.
I'm half with Boris--we should be happy people are even interested in something outside their own cultures.
As for me, I have no interest in manga or anime. I took Japanese out of pure masochism.

I remember many Korean highschool studnets deeply into learning Japanese in order to understand the dialogue in video games back to early 90s. I suppose the popularity has been reduced since video games began to be translated into Korean, and importing Japanese pop culture has become legal. Interesting thing is, at least in Korea, I don't think young people weren't motivated by manga as much as the rest of the world because the translated manga was commonly available. For anime, I think the majority of fans took the advantage of a relatively small number of dedicated amateur subtitle-makers.

I for one love Anime and think the fan subbing and anime gaijin otaku are a totally different ilk than people with Asian girl obsession... although I don't have anything against them either.

"Anime dorks?" "Martial arts freaks?" Stereotype much, Charles? It seems to me that learning any language for any reason is an improvement over the Anglochauvinist mainstream. For that matter, any crosscultural exploration is better than none. Are you similarly repulsed by people who learn French because they love food, or Italian because they love opera?

I have to admit that fansubbed anime has been a big influence on my interest in the language.

Perhaps if I find the time to watch fansubbed anime often enough, I'll pick up a basic level of conversational Japanese from simple immersion.

Well, in France at least, this is quite true.

Joi, I have a question for you, but first I wanted to mention...

I've been in several different japanese schools/programs and I've only run across one bonafide anime/manga otaku in those experiences, so I'm rather surprised to see this post. Personally, I don't see how anime and manga could really keep a serious student locked into their studies, but maybe I'm wrong. I do kind of understand the comparison made between anime otaku and japanese women chasers, it's like they are both chasing fantasy worlds somehow, rather than taking the language/culture seriously.

I wanted to ask two things.

-You said "That's good since most people aren't studying Japanese for business reasons anymore." I agree that most don't seem to be learning japanese for business anymore. Do you personally think that it's useless for a non-Japanese to study Japanese in order to do business with Japanese? Why? Too many cultural barriers? Level of keigo too difficult?

Also, if someone is learning japanese not for manga/anime OR business, then can you suggest a reason? I ask because I'm at a crossroads where I still love the culture, but I'm at a level now where it's either commit long-term, or be satisfied with knowing baby talk japanese. People learn french, spanish and german, and I see them able to use these languages, but breaking into doing business with Japanese is difficult, and many of the Japanese I meet who aren't in Japan usually already speak english. I'm looking for some guidance/inspiration, because so far, the only reason I've kept up my study is because I don't like not finishing something I've started -- i.e. I'm a stubborn bastard. But it would be nice to have a better reason. :^)

I should clarify what I meant (I should have put gaijin otaku uuugh in parenthesis). What I meant is that I sometimes feel, when engaging or trying to engage a young japanese person, that their first reaction is "oh this must be one of these anime guys/asian girl obssessives". The impression of stigmatisation may be in my head but it was put there somehow... and surely I am not alone in having experienced this kind of hesitation.

Also, just to be clear, I myself have no exceptional or specific like or dislike of either anime, manga or asian girls. I take it as it comes. ;)

"amida," you have identified the problem. You say it is a good thing that people are interested in something from outside their culture. But they really aren't. Animated films and comics are very much a Western media format. American kiddies like it because it is the same familiar format they grew up with, but since these particular products are written in a foreign language and are drawn in eccentric, unfamiliar styles, it gives them a sense of exoticism and they feel they are special because they are into something exclusive. This is usually called by the pejorative term "Orientalism."
This sort of thing goes in cycles. When I was a little kid, some of the kids liked Asterix and Tintin, and believed themselves exotic because of their interest in French comics. But that is ancient history. And so it is with anime and manga, it is a fad passing into obscurity like Pokemon and Tamagotchi, it is so 1990s. Now it is commercialized and overexposed enough that nobody gets their exotic Orientalist buzz anymore.

I like to learn Japanese because its very mannered and cultured language. Unlike Korean, Japanese uses soft dialect and its sentence structure is very similar to 3 major eastern asia. Chinese, Korean, and Japanese uses all different language and uses different writings but some of the words are very similar to others and gramatic structure is actually same. When I first started learning Japanese, I just wanted to be able to understand anime, manga, and games, but those are just a stereotype. Even though I am an anime freak like you bums has stated above; although you guys have no rights to judge us by your unskeptic idealism and your stupefor. I love to learn Japanese. Its very fun to learn and I have my grandma to guide me along. Its not easy but I don't think you can gain something without trying hard.
I would also like to state that, you guys are nothing but the senseless bitches who likes to judge anothers without their feelings. I, as a fan of Anime, would like to propose that I am one of those lame ass people who learned anime because I like anime.

When I took Japanese at a major US university, the first year class had around 200 students. These comprised of mostly people who wanted to understand what the cute girs flying around in short skirts battling robots were actually saying. The next major group of people in this class were guys with Japanese girlfriends.

The second year class had about 100 students. By this time, most of the anime people had dropped out, and some of the guys had broken up with their girlfriends (but some were still hoping to get a new Japanese girlfriend so they stuck it out). The third year class (which I was in) had twelve students. Of these, there two who had Japanese girlfriends, one who was an anime lover, a few business majors, me (who had spent some time in Japan so was taking the class for easy credit) and three Japanese americans who were there for obvious reasons.

By the fourth year, the class was down to eight people.

I think that Japanese Anime has diverged enough from the Western roots and I wouldn't characterize it as orientalism. I think that many of the anime fans that I know have a fairly deep understanding of what is going on and are valid participants in the movement. I think some of you might be reacting to pre-Internet anime fans. I think today, they are lively communities and are evolving.

The reason I linked to this study was that it was more than just anecdotal. Follow the link for more information.

Calvin: My point was just that since Japan isn't nearly as popular as a business "target" these days, China currently stealing the thunder, I was just pointing out that learning Japanese for purely business purposes was less popular. I don't think it's stupid to study Japanese for business reasons, I just think it's much less popular. Many companies are shutting down their Japan offices and moving to China so from a practical perspective, there's probably less work for Japanese speaking foreign businesspeople as well.

Also, I'm not saying that learning Japanese for other reason is in any way bad or unreasonable. I just think that learning it because you love anime isn't a particularly bad reason. Clearly, there are people who jump in with a shallow motivation, but I think this could be the case for other reasons to start too.

zenex: props for sticking out your studies. Wish I'd had the chance to study when I was at university. Mighta made the last 8 years here alot easier. When I remember some of how I spoke to people the first few years I just cringe.

xzpro: You realize you arent earning alot of respect with the "senseless bitches" comment?

Charles: insiteful comment.

Katherine: I know a Dutch guy who learned Thai well enough to become a professional translator. He learned because he likes to go there on sex tours. I'm pretty repulsed by some of his stories, so I'm not sure that "any crosscultural exploration is better than none"

Sadly I am not surprised at the elitism in this thread. If someone wants to learn about Japanese culture and their only way in is through Anime or any other Japanese subculture, that is something that should be encouraged. I would have loved to have been able to use Anime and Manga as part of my earlier studies. It would have given me a much better idea of what people actually say, and of certain kinds of Japanese cultural concepts. Instead of blaming the students, language courses should be structured around the students' interests and gradually moved onto wider topics. I suspect that many students drop out, not because they have lost interest in Japan, but because their interests have not been developed by institutions and teachers, who have the same elitist attitude shown here: Anime or chasing girls = bad. Business or literature = good.

Joi, you need to read that thesis in detail. The thesis is completely anecdotal. It is a loose collection of anecdotes about anime fans, with a few vague conclusions based on a few selected data points cherry picked from approximately 300 survey responses. But it doesn't even bother with numerical analysis of the responses. There are more details about Pokemon in that thesis than details of the survey results. I have seen better researched undergrad term papers. At my alma mater, all grad students have to take classes in statistics, and the dean would have rejected any thesis based on surveys that did not include extensive statistical analysis. But this author did not even summarize the raw survey data so others could do their own statistics. This isn't scholarship, this is an apologia for fandom masquerading as a thesis.

Mark,

The spoken Japanese in almost all anime I've ever seen do NOT reflect daily speech patterns. A typical example is the common usage of "Ore" for masculine first person. Whereas this may be used by some types of males in certain conditions, in most cases its just rude. Of course there are exceptions to this such as "Sazae-san" which is a family oriented show so the dialog is more that of real world daily use, but the conversations are so simple that learning from that would make one sound childish.

Manga may be better but it depends on the content in question. There used to be a monthly magazine in the US called "Mangajin" which was published for people trying to study Japanese. One good thing it did was to put context into the situations so as the reader could understand gender specific speech and "politeness levels".

Also for anyone interested in chasing skirts, there is "Making Out In Japanese" Vol 1 & 2 published by Tuttle. I cant say if they are any good or not, I merely report their existance.

In Iceland a lot of kids learn english because it's all around them - mainly on TV and now the internet. Their english consists mainly of catch-phrases, bubble gum philosophy and tough one liners. However, that knowledge allows them a much higher level of interaction with more sophisticated sources of english later on.
I remember struggling through computer magazine written in english as there were none in icelandic at the time. I also remember how thankful I was to Iceland's semi-bilingual culture when I went abroad to an international school where everything was taught in english. I may have struggled with Shakespeare but I had no problem socializing with other people.

I'm learning japanese to be able to read Tanizaki and Oseki.

BS.

Makes sense to me. Most colleges require students to learn a language, and most students have already taken two or three years of Spanish or French in high school and are tired of it. So they figure they'll take Japanese, since they already have an interest in some source material. I don't know if its as straightforward as "I want to learn Japanese so I can understand anime," I think its more "well, I'm already watching anime in Japanese with subtitles, so why not study that since I have to take a language."

I am quite wary of this use of the word "orientalism." It seems rather cynical, aimed at the motivations of the learner of Japanese ("You are only interested because it's 'exotic.'"), and has the implication that the learner ought to just stay home in his or her own culture--bad advice in these times. The other problem is there seems to be an underlying implication that "comic books" or "animated films" should be the exclusive domain of "the West" and that if Japanese create "manga" or "anime" then that is just a Western creation with exoticism heaped upon it. Maybe it deserves a closer look than that. And I don't think it particularly matters if the artform has diverged from its "Western" source or not--can't people partake in things that weren't created locally?
The reason I mention all this is I hear this "orientalism" cry levied at people interested in Japanese culture high and low. Interested in No drama? Out-of-touch Orientalist! Interested in those same manga that the kids in Japan are reading? Exoticist Orientalist! Again, I think it's better to be happy people are interested enough to actually pick up a textbook and build some bridges rather than stay in their sheltered worlds.

Chris_B: If your Dutch acquaintance weren't taking sex tours of Thailand, he'd be hanging out in the Amsterdam red light district. I'm not sure one is more (or less) reprehensible than the other.

Katherine: Holland actually enforces age of concent laws, Thailand dont. Got it?

I was fortunate enough to take several years of Japanese language instruction at the high school level. I didn't do it because I was looking to understand ninja repartee... I did it because it was different and interesting. What I could glimpse of the culture through what I saw of the history, art, movies, and music was captivating. If that's "orientalism" and offensive to some people so be it. Unfortunately I went to a college with a very weak Japanese program and stopped studying the language. Much of what I learned has faded.

Since then I've become very interested in anime and manga. It's stylish, different, and refreshing. it replaces the void left by a gradual boredom with traditional fantasy and scifi. Shows like Planetes or Haibane Renmei really opened my eyes that there was more to this that ninjas, robots, and collectible merchandise. Some here consider it "childish" and while I respect that opinion (and agree with it in regards to many shows) I think that's an overgeneralization. A lot of this content is no more childish than much of the media content adults consume on a regular basis (crime dramas, matrix magic stories, etc). Some of it is less so. In the US there's a strong US stigma against "cartoons" as we grew up assuming they were for kids (they were). This causes it all to get dismissed as kid stuff, but I've seen many shows that would be wildly inappropriate for kids. Now if someone wants to argue that this subclass of more adult-oriented shows is still shallow I think that'd be an interesting argument. However I think it would just spiral into a contest of differing tastes. As an adult, I find it somewhat funny how often I find myself on the defensive on the topic of anime, as I watch people I'm arguing with pick up their favorite tabloid newspaper or switch to the serialized TV show of their choice. Even teenagers who feel no shame in watching cartoons find it weird than a 29 year old could possibly be interested in it. Perhaps I am easily amused.

Anyhow to come full circle, my "not very serious" study of the Japanese language has still paid off. Many subtitles are particularly weak, and fail to convey subtleties that would be completely lost without some basic understanding of the language. Many times I've read something and though "that's not right, there's a lot more to what he said than that!" It's spurred me to brush up on it a bit. If I said it was for a deepening appreciation of Kurosawa films would that make it OK? The interest in language would still be at the same shallowness.

So am I a "serious" student of the language? No. Do I still benefit from understanding it a bit? Yes. I don't see what's wrong with that. Clearly sitting and watching anime all day is not going to prepare you for a formal conversation but I don't think it's wrong to study something you're peripherally interested in. At the very least you'll get an appreciation for what you're missing.

Charles: There is a lot of scholarship which is not based on numeric or statistical analysis so it might be worth being a little bit more forgiving on this. If you insist that the only research that is legitimate must rely on statistical analysis then you've written off most of qualitative social science and almost all of the humanities. Yes, I've worked with Annie so I have a vested interest in this critique but most of my colleagues got their degrees and make their living on interpretive social science so I am not alone.

Mimi, thanks for your response. But I don't buy it. If you're going to do a thesis based on a survey, you need to do the statistical analysis too. Failing that, you need to publish the raw data. If you don't, you have no hard data and the thesis conclusions can't be defended. "Soft sciences" like social studies have worked hard to increase the rigorousness of their research, and statistics is a key tool.

31 comments so far and no one has mentioned tentacle rape anime, this must be some kind of record!

Mimi,

Unfortunately I have to agree with Charles. I read the paper and was very dissapointed with the quality of the scholarship. Indeed it was 36 pages of little more than gushing devotion to fandom.

quote from laconic:

"So am I a "serious" student of the language? No. Do I still benefit from understanding it a bit? Yes. I don't see what's wrong with that. Clearly sitting and watching anime all day is not going to prepare you for a formal conversation but I don't think it's wrong to study something you're peripherally interested in. At the very least you'll get an appreciation for what you're missing."

I agree with laconic from many aspect of the topic. It's never wrong to learn something new because of periphrally interested in. You guys just can't judge the people with mark up of "Anime group" or "japanese lovers" and grade them with such false survey. I mean there could be some mojority to the survey but the survey was only taken in one city of one state of one country! I am living in Virginia and I have some friends who took Japanese in High School. If you ask them what was their motivation, they would probably say "because I wanted to understand Anime" but you know what? they passed 4 years of Japanese course with A! HA! I hope that crush your damn nose for bitching about false survey. One more thing I agree with is quote from Chris_B:

"Unfortunately I have to agree with Charles. I read the paper and was very dissapointed with the quality of the scholarship. Indeed it was 36 pages of little more than gushing devotion to fandom."

that's exactly what survey do! The accuracy of survey is 1/1,000,000 because it only takes place on certain area. They say the census information has atleast 20% human error mark up because they didn't ask whole citizens of the country to gather the data. I hope you son-of-bitches who wants to stereotype the people with your hypothetical assumptions, will learn not to judge others with your senseless mind. There are always some people who are better then you and you are just a mere dust in the air if you compare the population of those who surpasses you.

Bah. People used to learn Japanese just so that they could follow the dialogue in Kurosawa movies. And some of the shallower types do learn japanese of a sort just so that they can "understand" trash anime. Or those who get so bitten by the "oreientalism" bug that they try to be more japanese than the japanese (or s/japanese/chinese/) all the time .. that gets pathetically funny sometimes.

Of course there are a lot of people learning the language for rather better reasons than that, but you can't argue that the shallower variety of japanese fan just doesnt exist ..

Having learned Japanese and Chinese to reasonable levels (everyday life, simple novels, or slow complex conversations), I have to say that I wish good luck to *anyone* who wants to get started.

Career-wise I'm sure that the three or four years of full-time study will never pay off in cash terms like other skills (e.g. law or business, or even working at McDonalds) would. (And that goes for Chinese as well.)

Still, people do crazy stuff because of their own crazy interests in anime, movies, martial arts, literature, travel or (god forbid) members of the opposite sex.

Other people have learned unicycling and corporate finance for similar reasons!

"Career-wise I'm sure that the three or four years of full-time study will never pay off in cash terms like other skills."

I have to agree. It didn't take me three or four years of full-time study to learn what I needed to know to make some money off my (still-pathetic) Japanese skills. I can translate technical documentation and patents with that, and occasional resort to a dictionary or a Google session. However, it DID take me about 4 years to acquire the technical skills that enable me to translate technical stuff that somebody with fluent Japanese and a liberal arts degree can't make any sense of at all.

My son Asher is studying Japan and Japanese because of the food. Amazing how far someone will go to get some decent sushi.

I learn Japanese cause it's a pretty language. *smiles and shrugs* Move along...

"That's good since most people aren't studying Japanese for business reasons anymore."

They're all studying Chinese now.

Funny you mention that eden. I studied Japanese for about 7 years, went through the anime phase at the beginning, have lived in Japan for the past 4 years in business... next year I'm planning to move to China to learn Chinese. I keep telling myself its not for business... I'm just interested in learning another language...

But if that was really the case I probably would be learning Spanish and planning to move to south Spain. For the love of money!

There should be no stigma involved. If a cartoon helps people to learn a foreign language then that's a miraculous thing. Not a big anime fan myself, but Macross and Japanese food is what got my interest in the language started. Now I can speak Japanese. I'm grateful to the art; not ashamed by it.

As I understand it, the thing being criticized here (by Charles et al.) is being interested in or learning about Japanese by anime, but rather learning if understanding mangas/anime is your only goal.
I agree that this is a rather shallow motivation, and I, too, have made the experience that people learning Japanese for this reason (without being fascinated by the ("real") Japanese culture or just by yearning the language itself) tend to drop out of Japanese classes without getting very far.
This does /not/ mean that there is any stigma attached to liking anime/mangas, but I share the observation (in my limited experience as Just Another Student taking Japanese courses) that many people (_not all_, so don't bother proving me wrong by saying that you know someone to whom this does not apply -- I do, too) studying Japanese for only/mainly these reasons lack the kind of deeper interest in the language and culture that is required to really learn a language (it's always harder and more work than one expects).
I wouldn't find this surprising, either: If you're not studying for the anime (or to impress that cute Japanese girl in your class), there often isn't much short-term reward that you can expect, and then people tend to think a lot harder about whether they will have the persistence and long-term interest necessary to seriously study a language for longer amounts of time.
I don't think that there is anything 'bad' about studying Japanese with the goal of being able to understand anime, but I do think that the popularity of anime does make many people who wouldn't otherwise (due to lack of interest or similar reasons) have done so engage in Japanese courses -- and many of those people are indeed not as genuinely interested in Japanese as much as in Japanese anime.

But hey, one guy in my course (he is one of the more hard-working and particularly interested students, too) listed as his main goal being able to read Japanese patent claims (and he is not a lawyer, he just finds patent claims interesting) -- so surely if that can suffice, any reason can, given that it's not the only reason to study Japanese.

I am in the same shoes as calvin (http://joi.ito.com/archives/2005/10/12/students_study_japanese_because_they_like_anime.html#c028527).

I am a engineering dropout(3.5 years back), and started studying japanese in march. I will complete level 3 japanese in a month or so. I am trying to figure out if I should stop learning japanese, complete my degree or continue studying japanese and complete my degree in japan. But the only reason I am learning japanese is because its a _hard_ language to learn and I wanted something to challenge me. After I started learning japanese, I started reading more about japan and some of what I read gives me a pause.

Is there a good chance of getting into a japanese university and continuing my education?

#1: Japanese is not a hard language (except for memorizing kanji)
#2: No one has mentioned that even though many "otaku" are taking Japanese language classes that the vast majority of them fail. My boyfriend is taking it, and the class is so slow, because the otaku don't get it, and they are failing. This is his second semester, and they just reviewed "desu" again, and people were confused. I hate "otaku". I like manga and anime as art and literature, but not as life.

Why i am learning Japanese? I've taken japanese during my last two years of highschool because it helps me develope a new way of thinking.I did not take japanese so that i can understand manga comics or video games.It was my decision to learn more about japan alone.
When a person love a language, they want to learn more!

Also, I am one of those "Anime Freaks". I am going to be taking cartoon animation and by watching anime, i get to learn many drawing technique especially life drawing.

This is a rather old post brought back alive, but the topic is interesting.
I'm one of those "Anime Freaks" too, but wouldn't deem myself as otaku (I think it comes with age. You can't be an otaku over 30 :-)
I also got interested in the Japanese language by watching anime first. But later - because the japanese language and mine (hungarian) showed a lot of strange similarities (besides the Family name and Given name order) I dwelt into the details of the language, from there to culture and then music, history, people and so on.

So - originally by anime - I got into a lot of "japanese" stuff, not just language, for which I'm grateful. New thoughts have come, and now I can see things differently.

I plan on taking a language course sometimes simply because it is interesting.

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