What’s the best anime for learning Japanese and have a good time while you’re at it?
Mastering the full extent of any language involves honing your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in that particular tongue.
The Japanese language is no exception to this rule.
Still, learning Nihongo does not have to revolve around tedious and boring tasks like those practiced in a typical classroom environment.
There are so many ways to familiarize yourself with the language. One of them is by picking a good anime for learning Japanese.
What To Watch To Learn Japanese From Scratch?
While watching anime is an interesting choice for building your vocabulary, it wouldn’t be the best option for learning Japanese from zero.
Instead, we recommend going into anime as soon as you get past the basic classroom instructions for learning the language.
If you get into anime too soon, there’s a good chance you’ll just rely on English subtitles because you won’t have the foundation for understanding what the characters say.
For beginners, there are many free instructional videos for picking up Japanese words and phrases.
Many of these tutorials then lead to reading and writing the three Japanese alphabets.
If you feel you already have a good footing and want to start getting into anime, there are a few long-standing and excellent shows you can watch.
That said, will watching anime really help with your learning?
Is Anime a Good Way To Learn Japanese?
Anime can assist you in learning the Japanese language; there’s no denying that. However, it would still depend on the shows’ content.
For starters, a good anime to learn Japanese should be small on slang and informal words.
Many anime series use slang, informal words, idiomatic phrases, and, often, even made-up words.
It is up to you to listen carefully and comprehend every line from the script while jotting down notes for words and phrases you may not yet understand.
Intermediate Japanese knowledge allows you to watch anime shows using more complicated sentence construction and extensive vocabulary.
Best Anime for Learning Japanese
Considering you have enough basic knowledge of Nihongo, the following list outlines the best anime for learning Japanese.
Each one of these TV series is a long-running anime franchise.
Most have already finished airing on TV, but you can easily find open-source copies on the internet.
These shows are chosen and listed based on the complexity of the Japanese language used, starting from standard authentic low intermediate to advanced informal.
1. Chibi Maruko-chan
“Little Maruko,” or Chibi Maruko-chan, is a creation of Miki Miura, whose pen name is Sakura Momoko.
Chibi Maruko-chan started as a shojo manga series, also illustrated by the author.
This anime series portrays the simple daily experiences of a young girl called Momoko Sakura, who everyone calls Maruko.
Basically, Maruko-chan is a cute little troublemaker.
The anime series recounts how she deals with various situations with her family and friends.
Miki Miura set the series in her hometown, Irie, District, Shimizu, now a part of Shizuoka City.
The Chibi Maruko-chan program raises wholesomeness to a whole new level by emphasizing human relations.
As long as you possess at least a low-intermediate knowledge of the Japanese language, Chibi Maruko-chan is an excellent training ground.
There is an official Japanese Chibi Maruko-chan YouTube channel where you can watch full episodes.
Since Fujiko Fujio created the Doraemon manga series, it has become a successful anime show and media franchise.
Fujiko Fujio is the pen name of the duo Motoo Abiko and Hiroshi Fujimoto.
Doraemon is Japan’s first anime ambassador for deepening other peoples’ interest in the Japanese culture.
The Doraemon series talks about an earless futuristic cat having the same name and coming back from the 22nd century to aid Nobita Nobi.
Doraemon remains the best-selling children’s manga series and one of the most-watched anime series globally.
Until today, Doraemon continues to produce new episodes, and it is available on the web with the original Japanese versions.
Its popularity makes it one of the best anime to learn Japanese and understand their rich culture.
3. Crayon Shin-chan
Originally known as Kureyon Shin-chan, this manga series was written and illustrated by Yoshito Usui.
The story tells about a five-year-old boy named Shinnosuke Nohara, called by many as Shin-chan.
The anime series revolves around Shin-chan and his family, neighbors, friends, and their daily lives in Kasukabe, Saitama.
Shin-chan is a playful, sometimes stubborn, child. He deals with situations in his own little ways.
Some parents may find the mischievous acts of Shin-chan causing negative impacts on children’s attitudes.
Yet, based on experience, this series actually makes a good anime for learning Japanese.
It uses standard authentic language understandable to anyone with a low-intermediate level of Nihongo.
Fourth on the list is the longest-running scripted TV anime series in history.
Sazae-san was initially a popular post-war comic strip depicting the life of a fictional Japanese housewife.
Machiko Hasegawa is the creator of Sazae-san.
She is one of the first female manga artists, and her work reached national circulation through the Asahi Shinbun.
In 1955, Sazae-san became a dramatic radio series before becoming an animated TV show.
Sazae-san has been airing since 1969 and continues to produce new episodes every weekend on Japanese TV.
With over 7,000 episodes to watch, you will never run out of a platform for learning Japanese in your own time.
The series follows the daily life of a feminist wife named Sazae and her interactions with everybody around her.
Initial plot lines caused controversy among traditional viewers, but modern productions are catching on with more up-to-date topics.
Sazae-san depicts the daily life of a modern Japanese woman who has a more contemporary take on relationships and connections with other people.
5. Manga Nippon Mukashibanashi
Manga Nippon Mukashibanashi directly translates to “Old Tales in Japan Comics.”
It is an omnibus-format TV series comprising anime adaptations of Japanese folklore.
It is also one of Japan’s most successful and longest-running anime TV series, depicting old tales, such as Momotaro and The Moon Princess.
Group TAC Co. Ltd., a company founded by director Sugii Gisaburo, created Manga Nippon Mukashibanashi.
Sugii Gisaburo is a visual visionary unequaled in Japanese film history. He has revolutionized anime several times in his career.
One of his ideas made the Manga Nippon Mukashibanashi very successful.
The general rule in creating this anime TV series is that every episode uses a different group of creative staff, making each one unique.
Manga Nippon Mukashibanashi runs as two 10-minute short films in every half-hour episode.
New episodes stopped coming out in 1994, but all of the released episodes are available online.
Its old format animations may not appeal to people who favor modern digitized series, but it makes a good anime to learn Japanese.
The use of informal Japanese vocabulary is minimal, and every exchange emphasizes authentic Japanese conversations.
6. Dragon Ball
Enough of the laid-back daily lives of Maruko, Shinnosuke, Nobita, and Sazae—if you want more interesting pieces, let’s get on with some action.
Who doesn’t know Son Goku and his exploits about the seven Dragon Balls?
The story follows Son Goku’s adventures as he trains in martial arts from childhood through adulthood.
Son Goku spends his childhood far from civilization, living like a monk, until Bulma, a teen girl, invites him to join her in her quest for the seven Dragon Balls.
The Dragon Balls summon a wish-granting dragon, making the seven orbs widely sought-after objects.
In Son Goku’s adventures, he makes several other friends, starts a family, discovers his alien heritage, and combats many villains, most of whom also seek the orbs.
The characters of Dragon Ball are the best-known creations of Akira Toriyama.
Every manga enthusiast regards Akira Toriyama as one of the artists who changed manga’s history since many of his works are famous and highly influential.
Many manga artists cite Toriyama’s art as a source of inspiration for their work.
Dragon Ball brings learning the Japanese language to a whole new level.
It contains light conversations containing formal Japanese, and it presents some informal vocabulary for piquing your interest in the language.
Don’t forget to bring out your pen and notepad so that you can list down all unfamiliar terms and find their meanings after enjoying every episode.
7. Detective Conan
If you think you are gaining more Japanese language skills and approaching mid-intermediate knowledge, you might want to practice with Detective Conan.
More popular in the US as the TV series called “Case Closed,” Detective Conan tells Shinichi Kudo’s story.
Detective Conan is the creation of Gosho Aoyama, one of Japan’s renowned manga artists.
Shinichi Kudo mysteriously transformed into a child while he was investigating the Black Organization.
He keeps his true identity a secret, and he lives with his childhood friend, Ran Mori, and her father, Kogoro Mori.
Kogoro Mori is a private detective, and Shinichi Kudo impersonates Kogoro to solve the cases himself.
Kudo leads a double life as an elementary student. Here, he makes friends with a group of youngsters who create their very own Junior Detective Club.
As a high school detective, Shinichi Kudo solves many cases while still impersonating Kogoro Mori.
Detective Conan contains intermediate difficulty Japanese conversations that include formal topics akin to the professional level of communication.
While some conversations are full of informal words and phrases, many detective work scenes and crime-solving situations include formal Japanese discussions.
Teleport to the Sengoku period of Japan while watching the action-filled episodes of Inuyasha.
“Inu Yasha” translates to “dog yaksha.” These are a broad class of typically benevolent but sometimes mischievous nature spirits.
Yakshas have a connection to water, fertility, trees, wilderness, and natural treasures.
The original Japanese manga series Inuyasha is a creation of Rumiko Takahashi, and the anime version started in 1996.
The story of Inuyasha begins with Kagome Higurashi, a junior-high-school student from present-day Tokyo.
Something mysterious transports her to a parallel universe in the Sengoku period after being dragged down a well within her family shrine.
She meets Inuyasha, a half-dog, half-human entity living in the period.
The story unravels as Kagome realizes she is a reincarnation of a warrior priestess in possession of the Shikon Jewel.
As many evil entities try to take the jewel from Kagome, it shatters into many shards that get scattered across Japan.
Inuyasha starts as one of the demons trying to claim the jewel, but he changes into a reliable companion for Kagome in reclaiming all the shards.
Watching Inuyasha may help you learn more traditional Japanese terms as you go along with the series.
However, it may require the higher end of intermediate Japanese language knowledge.
On the day of Naruto Uzumaki’s birth, a nine-tailed demon fox attacks his village, taking his father’s life, who seals the demon in his son’s body.
While growing up, Naruto trains as a ninja to control the demon and become the village leader and protector.
Naruto is the creation of Masashi Kishimoto. He also started as the protagonist in a widely acclaimed manga series.
The anime series Naruto is an excellent TV show for honing your Japanese language skills as soon as you accomplish an intermediate language level.
We would not recommend Naruto as a learning ground for people with no prior Japanese language experience, though.
The conversations used in the series are too complex for a beginner, leaving them more puzzled about the language.
10. One Piece
One Piece tells the story of Monkey D. Luffy and his crewmates, who embark on a journey to find the world’s biggest treasure.
It is a series about pirates making a family for themselves and embarking on perilous journeys while searching for the ultimate prize.
The original manga series One Piece is a creation of Eiichiro Oda. Like Naruto, Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine serialized it into volumes.
The manga became a media franchise, and it also has a movie and an anime series.
One Piece is famous for its storytelling, characterization, art, and humor.
The acclaimed anime series is another excellent way to hone your high-level knowledge of the Japanese language.
However, like Naruto, included Japanese conversations may seem too complex for Japanese language beginners.
What Anime Is Good for Learning Japanese?
Even if you have a good command of the Japanese language, going through the most basic authentic Japanese language anime series is always good practice.
For the low-intermediate Japanese language learner, Chibi Maruko-chan may be the best anime to learn Japanese and improve your vocabulary.
As you go into more complex anime series, it would help if you learn how to remember Japanese words whenever you hear something new.