Learning Japanese: Week 1
I don’t remember exactly what day I started really learning Japanese. It was sometime about a week ago. And today I finished learning the first 47 “regular” Hiragana! Not too shabby I don’t think.
It feels like such a cliche, but it was anime that got me into the idea of learning Japanse. I grew up watching anime, but not knowing that is what it was. I watched Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon and Gundam Wing and all of the great shows in Toonami. I didn’t know they were from Japan, I just called them my Saturday night cartoons. I remember Naruto and Zatch Bell and the very beginning of One Piece (Sidebar: I remember watching the US premier of One Piece in 2004, an anime that is still running in 2017 when I am writing this). Those memories are some of the happiest I have from my childhood. I still remember watching Princess Mononoke for the first time (I was too young, it was scarring). Then after awhile I just stopped. As I grew out of watching Saturday morning cartoons, I grew out of watching my Saturday Night anime.
Fast forward to the summer after my Freshman year of college. I made a bunch of nerd friends the year before who shared the same anime upbringing that I did. It brought back a lot of nostalgia for those Saturday nights. Over the summer I heard Dodger mention that she was watching an anime called Attack on Titan and that it was the big hit of the season that everyone was talking about. I trusted Dodger’s judgement and started a free trial with Crunchyroll and proceeded to binge Attack on Titan. Back at university, turns out everyone else had been watched Attack on Titan too, and so we started getting together every time a new episode came out and had pizza and snacks. This started my favorite tradition in college. Our friend group kept finding new excuses to get together and watch something each week (we went from Attack on Titan to Legend of Korra to Game of Thrones to a rewatch of Miyazaki movies).
So I slowly got back into anime, and because I didn’t want to wait for the next season of Attack on Titan: manga as well. Shows like Fullmetal Alchemist, SHIROBAKO, Free!, Yuri!!! On Ice became some of my very favorite things. Your Name is probably in my top 5 favorite movies. The more I learned about Japan, the more I loved it.
All that time I wanted to learn Japanese. I came to prefer the subtitled versions of shows and movies, so I wanted to be able to watch without subtitles some day. But everyone I talked to about learning Japanese said it was so hard, so it kind of scared me off.
Until recently when Duolingo added Japanese courses. I used that for around a month before realizing it wasn’t really working for me. But it whet my apetite and now I knew I really wanted to learn.
A week in, and I feel like I’ve learned more than I did in a month of Duolingo. Sure, I don’t really know any words, but I feel like I am starting to get the basics down, and that will set me up to know my shit better down the road. I just finished learning all the basic Hiragana, and now I will be finishing up the combination Hiragana and Dakuten before moving on to Katakana! I know this will be a slow moving process, but I’ve got nothing but time.