Japanese

Learn Japanese by Watching the Anime Ghost in the Shell

I’ve been watching some anime lately. In particular, I’ve been watching some Ghost in the Shell: Arise on Netflix. I’m really enjoying it (haven’t seen it before) and I thought it would be cool to learn some Japanese by watching this anime.

I looked around YouTube for some videos that I could possibly use, and I found one that I thought would work.

Now the total length of this video is 2:28, but for learning purposes I’m only going to cover the first 35 seconds of it. We can go over the rest at a later time.

So let’s do this, I’ll give a little bit of a backstory first so that you can understand the context of the scene. As I’m sure you know, Japanese is a context-heavy language, so a lot of things get omitted when speaking if it is obvious to everyone in the conversation.

So by understanding what’s all going on story-wise, you will be able to follow along better.

Anyway, I have the whole video up, but you really only need to watch it until the 0:35 mark. You can stop at that point unless you’d like to see it all.

Then afterwords I’ll have a transcription and some audio that you can use to learn the words and phrases.

Now, I’m using an interpretation for the phrase section because it flows better, but when you get to the individual words in the section that follows, it will be more literal.

These final notes and information on certain things will make it so that you have a deeper understanding of it all.

Alright, let’s go!

The Backstory

Ghost in the Shell: Arise is set in a futuristic world where many people are cyborgs – a combination of human and machine.

Due to the advanced technology, most things are run on The Net, such as the cars and traffic, communications between people and organizations, and so on.

Also, people who are cyborgs (or have implants) can access The Net via their neural transmitters, which allows them to communicate with others and they can also Plug In to other cyborgs to transfer information and even take over one another.

It’s like our internet times ten, and it’s integrated all over Japan (the setting of the show).

In this particular episode, known as Border 2: Ghost Whispers (each episode is called a “border”), a man who was a Colonel in Japan’s army is being convicted of a crime. So what does he do?

He hacks The Net by using a monster virus known as a Dominator and then pretty much holds all of Japan hostage.

So the government hires a team to stop the Colonel and his men.

In this scene (YouTube video below), it starts off with Ishikawa (on the Colonel’s team) who is monitoring the base and sees that the team sent by Japan’s higher-ups have infiltrated it.

Ishikawa is then attacked by Paz (on the Major’s team that the government sent in) and an epic knife fight ensues!

Here’s the clip!

Remember to stop at 0:35 when the fight ends.

The Dialog

Pretty cool, right?! One of the things that I was really impressed with was how awesome the fights are in Ghost in the Shell. There is just so much happening – if you blink, you’ll miss it!

Alright, so the conversation was pretty fast. Ishikawa in particular seems to zip right through his lines, which can make it a little tough to follow if you’re a beginner.

Just study these below phrases one at a time, playing the audio and repeating them out loud (this is essential!) and then trying watching the clip again and see how much easier it is for you to follow along.

Note: just so that it is easy, I will put Ishikawa’s lines in black and Paz’s lines in blue.


くそっ!
kuso!
Shit!


大佐がドミネを実行中だってのに
taisa ga domine o jikkō-chū datte noni
Even though the colonel’s running Dominator,


平気で動き回ってやがる
heiki de ugoki mawatte yagaru
(they’re) moving around freely!


なめるな!
nameru na!
Don’t underestimate me!


超ウィザード級ハッカーだろうが
chō uizādo-kyū hakkā darō ga
Even a super-wizard-class hacker…


ドミネの最中に通信すりゃ位置くらい分るんだよ
domine no saichū ni tsūshin surya ichi kurai wakaru n da yo
I can locate (even a super-wizard-class hacker) if they make a call during domination!


少佐があんたに用がある
shōsa ga anta ni yōga aru
The Major’s got business with you.


大人しく有線させてくれれば怪我はさせねぇ
otonashiku yūsen sa sete kurereba kega wa sa sene~
Let me connect you, and nobody gets hurt


やってみろ若造
yatte miro wakazō
Try it, kiddo.


遊んでやるよ
asonde yaru yo
I’ll play with you.


Vocabulary and Notes

japanese vocabulary words for anime

For this section, I’ll break it down and give some insights. It’s in the same order as the above dialog, so you can use that to follow along.

The English meaning(s) of the words are in Bold, and anything else is just information to help understand it better.

大佐 (taisa) = Colonel; the former rank of the guy who is holding the city hostage

ドミネ (domine) = Dominator; the name of the virus the bad guys are using

実行中 ( jikkō-chū) = Running; in process; during execution

だってのに (datte noni) = Even though; note that のに is used to show a contrary result. Here it’s used to show that the team is moving about freely, even though the Colonel has taken over the city with the virus.

Ishikawa had expected that the Dominator virus would have hindered the teams ability to get to the base, but it did not.

平気で (heiki de) = This is an expression that can translate into English as “without compunction; without batting an eyelid” or as I’ve written above in the phrase section “freely” since they are doing an action (moving around) without any problems.

動き回って (ugoki mawatte) = Moving around. This word is a combination of  for “move” and  for “around.” It is also in the て form which is the equivalent of the English “ing” for continuous action.

やがる (yagaru) = This one is actually a verb suffix that gets added on after the -te form to show the speaker’s disdain for someone else’s action.

It’s one of those things that makes the Japanese language really cool, and when you understand context of the situation it makes sense.

To show this, I just added the exclamation mark (!) to it so it seemed like he was shouting to express his displeasure.

なめるな (nameru na) = なめる means “to make light of; to underestimate” and the ending particle な becomes a prohibition (=don’t) when it is combined with the dictionary form of the verb.

超ウィザード級ハッカー (chō uizādo kyū hakkā) = Super-Wizard-Class-Hacker. is usually added to words to make them “super; ultra” and is added here to mean “class; rank.”

ウィザード and ハッカー are both english loan words that mean Wizard and Hacker respectively.

位置くらい分るんだよ (ichi kurai wakaru n da yo) = (I) know about the position. 位置 means “position” and the word くらい could also mean “approximately” instead of “about.” Finally, 分るんだ means “to know” in this context.

ドミネの最中に通信すりゃ (domine no saichū ni tsūshin surya) = communicating during the middle of Domination (the virus). The line の最中に translates as “in the middle of~; during~“, 通信 means “communication” and すりゃ is the informal way to say すれば, which means “while.”

These last two sentences make up that really long phrase where Ishikawa is basically saying that “he can locate anyone (even the best hacker) so long as they make communications during the Dominator’s takeover of The Net.”

少佐 (shōsa) = Major; this is the rank of the main character in the story. In this scene Paz is referring to the main character of the show by her rank instead of by her name. Just like how Ishikawa did so with the Colonel earlier.

あんた (anta) = You

(yō) = Task; business.

大人しく (otonashiku) = obediently; submissively.

有線させて (yūsen sa sete) = Let me wire you up. This makes sense when you know that Ishikawa is a cyborg and can connect to the Major via wire. Obviously he doesn’t want to since he sees Paz as an enemy.

させて is actually an auxiliary verb that indicates the speaker has been granted permission to do something (wireing Ishikawa up).

くれれば (kurereba) = If I give. In the sentence Paz is saying “if (you let) me give you this action of wiring you up.”  It’s pretty common to see くれ (to give) added to verbs this way when the intention of the verb is for the benifit of another.

Why would it be benificial for Ishikawa to be wired up by Paz? Well my friend, you will just have to watch the whole episode to learn that!

怪我はさせねぇ (kega wa sa sene~) = I won’t let you get hurt.

やってみろ (yatte miro) = This translates as “do it and see (what happens)” but in English it is equivalent to our “try” as in “try it.”

若造 (wakazō) = Youngster; greenhorn; In this context, this word is used as kind of a light insult. Like calling the other player a “Rookie” when you are playing against them in a game.

遊んでやる (asonde yaru) = 遊んで is the -te form of the word for “to play” and やる means “to do” so here it simply means “I’ll play (with you)” which makes sense seeing as how Ishikawa just called Paz a kiddo.

He obviously doesn’t see him as much of a threat!

Final Thoughts

So what did you think?

Is that something that you enjoyed doing? Learning Japanese from anime that is.

I plan on finishing the rest of this particular anime clip, probably in about 30 second intervals so as not to overload anyone with all the new information.

But let me know your thoughts on it in the comments section below.

Is this something that you like and want to see more of? Would you rather see other things on the blog instead?

Learning Japanese by watching anime is a little tougher than what most students are used to since it’s got a very natural feel to it when it comes to things like the words, phrases, and tempo. It’s certainly not setup with the intention of teaching anyone Japanese.

But I think it can be a pretty cool way to go about it!

For one thing, if your goal is to learn Japanese so that you can watch anime in the original language, then you will definitely want to get some practice in using this method.

On the other hand, if you are brand new to the language and have only been studying for a few weeks or so, then you might want to practice a bit more with courses and books that are geared at your current level.

Still…

You have to take the training wheels off at some point. It’s always the hardest when you first begin, but then it gets easier as you do it more.

Anyway, what do you think?

Do you want more of these? Do you have any questions on anything? Leave me a comment below and look forward to the next one!

5 Comments

  • Daniel

    I like the idea of learning Japanese anime. That way you can use what you learn immediately. Sometimes you spend hours learning words you don’t ever use. Frustrating when that happens.

    • Nick Hoyt

      Yeah, I hear that! I think that most books and courses mean well, it’s just that it is a lot easier to create lessons based on topics like “restaurant, hospital, airport, past tense verbs, adverbs” and so on.

      Unfortunately, most people will only ever use a few words out of each of those areas in any given episode of anime (and sometimes daily life too) so that even though you know 1,000 Japanese words, they are so concentrated that it doesn’t actually help you to understand what’s being said in a normal conversation.

      However, only learning from Anime presents its own challenges too. I guess it’s a catch 22? I always recommend that people study what they plan to do/use first.

      So if your goal is to be able to watch Japanese anime in the original language, then your time would probably be best spent studying exactly that.

      • Nick Hoyt

        Oh by the way, I forgot to ask if this is something that you’d like to see more of on the blog?

        I was originally planning on finishing off this clip for Ghost in the Shell, but I got some feedback on Twitter saying that this particular anime might be a little too high for beginners to really get any value out of.

        I had to agree, so I’ve kind of been thinking of doing the same thing, but for a different anime that is not quite as complicated. Do you have any preferences?

        Let me know (this goes for anyone else reading this too!).

        • Daniel

          I’m watching this one anime called “Humanity Has Declined” so that might be a cool one to cover. The Japanese name is 人類は衰退しました

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