The Major Benefit To Being Bad At Japanese

No one likes being bad at Japanese. The faster you can get away from it and move on to good Japanese, the better. But there must be something positive about being bad. Something that you can appreciate having through the struggle.

The Major Benefit To Being Bad At Japanese


You get the limited power of immunity against bad acting and writing.

When you have trouble understanding what you are listening to, your focus is on your ability to comprehend the material. Since the language is not fully at your grasp you miss out on a lot of the detail you see in TV and movies. You don’t have a natural feel yet for what sounds right or real or normal for Japanese speaking just yet. Instead of this making you feel down on yourself, you can use this to your full advantage.

I used to watch all ranges of j-dramas, variety shows, and movies. Once I got into the story, I found I could enjoy an endless number of series. But as the years passed, and the finer subtleties of acting became apparent. While there is still plenty I enjoy, it is nowhere near the colossal number I got to appreciate in the early days.

The Major Benefit To Being Bad At Japanese 2

Even looking back on shows I used to like, seeing them at fluency is often a completely different experience, often resulting in a “what the hell was I thinking?”

Use your inexperience

Inexperience (and a little ignorance) actually increase your entertainment options. Because eventually you’ll be more harsh, and critical to the acting involved in everything you watch. For an easy to relate comparison, think of the TV shows you used to like as a child, and have taken a look back on today as an adult.

There will be exceptions of course. Some actors, just based on their face, action, and tone of voice, you know are really bad. You can’t get around this despite your lack of experience. But you will be “fortunately” tricked in many other situations.

Go out and enjoy bad TV while you still can.

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


The Major Benefit To Being Bad At Japanese — 23 Comments

  1. I didn’t understand what you meant until I got to the end. Yes, I am currently in this stage and my music choice according to my japanese friend is weird and very love-themed, but lucky ignorant me didn’t know that, I don’t even know what the crap they’re saying at all, all I know is 愛してる. So yeah, that is a huge advantage.

    • I still have this huge addiction to 西野カナ which I actually developed once I could understand what she was singing about. Even more hilarious I only recently found out a buddy of mine who I have known for several years now has the same odd taste in j-pop.

      Instead of thinking of it as weird I prefer strong and sensitive. :D

  2. Oh my God, this! “You get the limited power of immunity against bad acting and writing.”

    When I was a beginner, I didn’t mind foreign hosts in NHK travel shows trying to speak Japanese to the locals. Now, I don’t watch NHK travel shows that much anymore because I really CRINGE at the Japanese of the foreign hosts. They either sound too rude or too childish. I just can’t ignore it. It makes me uncomfortable. One time the host was this big American guy and he spoke like a teenage ぶりっ子 who gets absolutely amazed at absolutely everything. I turned off the TV because I couldn’t go on watching.

  3. This is kinda starting to happen to me. When I was a beginner, I watched いたずらなキス and surprisingly liked it. I cannot stand that show anymore. The dialogue feels…slow, cliche, and dragged on (あたしが好きだと思ってたのに、どうして嫌われているの?). I am not saying that it’s a bad show, just that the pleasure I experienced from watching it the first time was probably linguistical.
    On the plus side, the music in that show is awesome.

  4. Yeah, I’ve wondered if a lot of the songs I listen to I won’t like in the future. I can’t listen to a song if it has lyrics I disagree with or hate. A few are like that already. I just hope that my favorite songs won’t be the ones!

  5. Yeah, this is happening to me, to an extent. There are certain songs by artists I like that I can’t listen to because the lyrics bother me (looking at you, amazarashiさん). But that’s okay, I guess, because it shows how much I’ve improved in the language!

    • Yes, this is a positive, because while you become more particular your world is expanding at the same time.

  6. I have a had a slightly different experience. I still enjoy a lot of this kind of stuff but I have made two adjustments. First, I no longer tell anyone about my 青春ドラマ addiction and all of the “bad” content I watch. Second, I have decided that I can forgive most of the bad acting and overacting in certain genres especially when the stories were originally based on a manga.

    On the flip side I do not understand how learners can enjoy subbed western dramas and movies. Destroying excellent content with poor voice acting is something I cannot take part in. I have pretty much always felt this way mostly because some of the voices they choose feel incorrect based on the characters and story.

    • So this is interesting, I really like watching dubbed western shows and find that Japanese voice actors are always top notch (compared to American voice actors who are often exceptionally terrible). For shows I have watched previously in English, it takes a few episodes to adjust to the voice differences. Interestingly, shows I’ve watched a good bit of in Japanese, if I later see them in English again, the original actors voices now feel ‘wrong’.

    • Really? Guess it comes down to taste, but I find watching it in Japanese is like reliving the movie in a different light. True, some movies don’t do a great job, but others are amazing. Lord Of The Rings dubbed was pure beauty to me haha.

      • I probably should have mentioned I haven’t watched any animated movie in English in almost a decade now. I bet I would cringe if I heard some of the newer Disney character’s English voices. I would guess any genre where anime-style voicing is still appropriate (ie. fatanasy, some sci-fi) would grate on me less. In fact I will only watch Stars Wars Episode 1-3 in Japanese now because the English version sounds so bad to me.

        I guess ultimately I feel like Manan does. I generally want to watch it or play it in the language it was written or spoken in except in those cases where the dub is superior.

    • I cannot stand dubbed live action content (dubbed animations are fine though). It just seems pointless. One of the reasons I started learning Japanese is to specifically avoid dubbed/translated things and experience things in their intended format. I’d rather explore what Japan has to offer me than go back to Western entertainment. However, there are exceptions where I find dubs acceptable (usually animations). Dragon Ball Z English Dub is far superior to it’s Japanese counterpart. I believe the same would hold too for some media dubbed in Japanese.

      • Manan, For me the point is threefold:
        1) Stuff I’ve seen a lot in English is easy to follow and learn from context
        2) Staying in Japanese immersion (I’m pretty serious about AJATT) while being able to enjoy things I miss from English content or feel like I’m missing out on
        3) It’s really interesting to see how they chose to translate things into Japanese for certain memorable lines from series and movies

    • I really dislike (hate even?) dubbed content as well. It is one of the main reasons I want to learn Japanese. The source material is always better imo.

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