Improving Your Japanese Through Let’s Play Series (実況プレイ)
実況プレイ series, which can be found easily on youtube or niconico douga, are an incredible way to improve your Japanese. Usually they are based on older games, where you watch a Japanese person playing through a video game (you only see the screen that they see), and the Japanese person is narrating his play with comments, criticism, jokes, and talking with the viewer (you).
While I can’t vouch for all 実況プレイ, I’ve seen my share of incredibly entertaining ones. You get to listen to some very natural, on the spot Japanese. Since one video game will use the same words over and over again, it is some great repetition practice. You will end up cheering on the narrator, as well as get frustrated every time he makes a silly mistake and shouts out (もう～！）. One game is usually split up into about 20-30 videos, that are updated once a week as the person plays through the video game.
My favorite and one of the most popular 実況プレイ on YouTube is called 青鬼を実況プレイ！, with a few hundred thousand views per part. It’s an older game (maybe SNES?) where a bunch of kids are trapped in a giant mansion, and they have to find their way out while being pursued by a giant blue demon with a big funny looking head (You’ll laugh when you first see it). Hearing the narrator scream like a girl when the demon first appears is quite amusing.
When you view one 実況プレイ in YouTube, under the “Suggestions” on the right, you’ll see other interesting ones, covering both present and older games. Make sure you start from part 1 of a 実況プレイ series.
(Update: Old series was deleted, so I’m updating it with the new version by Hikakin)
Some other examples:
A user’s channel that makes alot of these types of 実況プレイ
And even if you still are thinking to yourself “this guy is crazy,” just take a quick look and you may be pleasantly surprised. Think of it like playing a video game together with your Japanese friend who is hogging the controller.
(Update): See comments for more great recommendations.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
hey man great post. I never knew about 実況プレイ style videos, but it’s friggen brilliant!
I know they sound crazy, but are a hell of a lot of fun. Glad you are enjoying them!
I like doing this myself. I don’t have to buy the game and I get to listen to more japanese via the players comments and the in game text.
Good point, it does also save money. You have any recommendations of some good ones you’ve seen recently?
It’s also a great way to see Japanese versions of games I’ve played in English, where it’s impossible to get the Japanese version because the game’s too old (or region locked). This morning I started watching someone play 「ペーパーマリオRPG」 (known stateside as “Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door”), and I must say it’s great to already “know” the game in English, so even though I’m only catching about 5% of the in-game Japanese text (because the player is scrolling it too fast!) and maybe 8% of the player’s spoken Japanese, I still know what’s going on.
For anyone that’s interested, the Let’s Play starts here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpvAxY5bqpU
Thanks for the new recommendation. If you come up with any new ones that you enjoy, definitely mention them here!
I’ve just watched the first two so far, but I find it to be quite amazing: http://www.nicovideo.jp/mylist/9486455
It’s of FF6. They read everything word for word giving each character their own voice. (Kefka’s voice… lol) Not only that, but while there isn’t any dialog going on in game, they add dialog using those characters voices in a pretty humorous way, I think. During boss battles they add conversations between the characters and the boss 「モグッチ！！！！」 so you’re always getting listening practice even during some of the less active parts of the game.
This is the most entertaining 実況プレイ I’ve started so far anyway.
I personally like http://www.nicovideo.jp/mylist/18399759 . It’s a 実況プレイ of Persona 4 – most of the dialogue in the game is voiced, but this girl reads all of the non-voiced dialogue too, and while I can’t understand much yet, I can tell she fully takes on the role of the main character and constantly comments on other characters’ remarks and replies to what they say… It’s quite entertaining.
Some of them really get into the characters and voices. Thanks for the recommendation!
1st-time commenter, full-time lurker.
Just for clarity’s sake; I don’t think this is an old SNES game, I think it’s made using a PC program called RPG Maker (don’t know which version, as there are several) by a Japanese(?) game house called Enterbrain. It has been translated into English, but we don’t need to know that. I always planned to get a copy and make a game of my own before I started studying Japanese. Guess what my new plan is?
Anyway, I’m really enjoying watching and listening to these while I do my reps, even though it’s a bit distracting. I think my neighbours might be getting pissed off with the guy’s shrieking….
btw, I’m somewhere between level 30 and 40 with about 2 years total studying, but after finishing Heisig and starting Anki a couple of months ago my level has shot up by about 15 levels. I’ve read this website extensively and find it really easy to navigate and unbelievably helpful, particularly when I’m experiencing a bit of burn-out.
I’m glad you finally decided to comment. I hope this is the start of a trend. Some of the commenters on this site provide even more material and guidance than I do.
Thanks for the clarification on the game above. I expect you to make the next awesome Japanese game like the one above using the software . . . and then upload it to this site.
I like the Random Article option because I was able to find this amusing article. I clicked on the link you offered and it was really nice. His voice is very easy to listen to and soothing so you find yourself wanting to listen more and more.
I just sat in front of the video with a sheet of paper and wrote a word every once in a while during the empty space. So without realizing it I was studying and enjoying myself. (Which is great considering I’m in a bit of a rut and am needing enjoyable material) Really enjoyed this. Will have to watch more.
Is there a way I can play this myself on a PC? Maybe I should start playing games in Japanese. Haven’t played a game in years.
Plus it’s like having a roommate! Fun!
I’ve already finished the 青鬼 videos. That was really fun, thanks. Going to check out more videos soon!
Two things to add to this article:
1. I found a website where two animes (more than two, but I’ve only seen two so far, as I’m not quite done with the Phantasy Star IV page) basically screenshot LP a ton of old Sega games. Always good for some reading practice. Here’s the link: http://www5a.biglobe.ne.jp/~mamomamo/mega/mega.html
2. Does anybody know of other sites similar to this? A Japanese lparchive, if you will?
Wow, amazing find! This is a great source for those who like old school games. Not only is it funny and informative, but it introduces you to old Japanese games as well.
I’ve never come across any site like this (hopefully some others have and can leave a suggestion?), but I’ll see what I can find, and I may write up a post on this subject.
I actually found this topic rather fascinating as well, so I wrote an article on it myself!
I found a really good video on Spelunker a while back, and when I wrote my article I tried to find it again, but I couldn’t. Anyway, I put together a few videos here myself!
Great post covering the subject!
For anyone interested in finding good videos like these, Jack’s post is a very worthwhile read.
I can definitely recommend たつやさん (https://www.youtube.com/user/tatsuya3004/).
If you like JRPGs, check out his Tales of Vesperia playlist. I actually have this playlist in the background as I play Tales of Vesperia in Japanese (PS3s are region free! \o/), so even the empty moments (like battles & running around) have Japanese immersion. Plus, it’s like having two Japanese friends playing with me!
As an intermediate learner looking for a foothold to keep myself motivated, I’ve been finding Japanese Let’s Plays quite useful. My personal goals mostly involve reading and listening, so this medium provides me with a fun way of covering both bases at once. In addition, there’s a wealth of untranslated free indie games that I can only experience through Let’s Plays. While they aren’t necessary better than Western games, they’re certainly stranger and, thus, still worth experiencing.
Here are a couple of channels I visit for these sorts of games: