Foreigners Speaking English To Japanese People In Anime

While it is a given that characters of Japanese anime speak in well… Japanese, occasionally you get a foreigner who wanders up to a Japanese person and just starts blasting them away in fast paced English. It usually is used for comedic effect, as the Japanese character will be dumbfounded, confused, and react in a silly way with most likely silly English. It’s usually funny, as the Japanese person attempts to communicate with the overbearing foreigner.

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But how true is this image?

Here is the stereotype:

1. Foreigner immediately starts talking in normal/fast speed English, without even bothering with a word of Japanese.

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2. Even though the Japanese person obviously doesn’t understand, that foreigner continues talking.

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3. The foreigner usually gets very up into the Japanese person’s personal space.

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4. The Japanese person panics, and tries to say whatever crazy English they remember from school (ex: “This is a pen,” “Oh my god!” “Excellent!”)

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5. If there is an English teacher, they are the go to person for speaking with that foreigner, and of course they do just as bad as any other Japanese person.

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Need some exciting clips to show the excitement that entails? Yes.

So how many of you have had experiences like this?

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Foreigners Speaking English To Japanese People In Anime — 12 Comments

  1. This happens so often haha, most of the time with very broken english. I was surprised, in the currently airing anime Zankyou no Terror, in the latest episode there was some english and the english was actually very good!

    • Occasionally you get some decent English. I think it depends on how much they really care. Sometimes you think that they just go around voice studio and say “hey, can anyone speak any English?”

      • にゃぁぁぁぁんなの?

        にゃぜにゃら、 他の猫言語にゃら、 「にゃ」っての語尾が使えにゃいにゃぁぁ。。。寂しいにゃぁぁ

        (My apologies in advance. There is a slight chance I’ve been watching too much of the ニャニャニャネコマリオタイム show lately)

  2. I see English speakers doing this in Japan a lot, but of course not always. I do my best to speak slowly and simply and use as much Japanese as I can — even though it’s very broken and very bad, lol. On the flipside, I’ve only had the reverse experience (Japanese people speaking to me in Japanese too quickly and refusing to slow down) once or twice in almost two years of living here. They are a very considerate people. ^.^

    • True, and I’m sure a lot of anime writers probably base scenes like this on personal experience.

  3. On the plus side, Hattori Heiji’s seiyuu is an incredible English speaker and they incorporated it into his character exceptionally well in Detective Conan!

    I don’t get it, is it a union thing? There are lots of qualified English voice-over artists in Tokyo, I don’t see why they don’t get native speakers who understand Japanese to do it.

    • Pretty impressive! And I like how Japanese/English speaking ability is central to the plot.

      I think it’s a relevance issue. Most Japanese don’t care or can’t tell the difference between good English and bad English, similar to the way that most foreigners can’t tell the difference between good Japanese and bad Japanese. So the mindset is probably “why bother spending any extra money when you don’t have to.”

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