Latest in the line of initiatives to get anime and manga fans learning Japanese: a new website from the Japan Foundation’s Japanese-Language Institute Kansai. The website offers illustrations, audio and quizzes to help learners.
The designers have tackled one of the problems Westerners have when learning Japanese – different levels of politeness and modes of expression – through use of character archetypes. Clicking on a particular phrase – introduction, invitation, apology – lets you hear how a particular type would express it. There’s even an Osaka dialect version. It’s no substitute for a good language class, but it’s a fun way to practise and try out different modes of expression.
The Love Words Quiz is timed to be of use to those romancing their Valentine in Japanese. A multiple-choice scenario involves reading Japanese phrases and choosing the meaning, then reviewing your answers and reinforcing the correct ones with illustrations. It will help even basic speakers learn the vital difference between getting confused and getting undressed.
Some fun links are on offer, including sites devoted to Hiroshima, Osaka and Kansai dialects, sites that will generate cheesy chat-up lines or “Dear John” letters in Japanese, and sites that will convert any Japanese sentence to the formal, finicky speech of an upper-class lady, or the slang of a streetwise “gyaru”. You can also link to a range of seriously useful language study sites.
The Japanese in Anime and Manga website is still in its early stages, so content is sparse at the moment, but more is being added. It can be a little slow to load at times, but is worth the wait. The JLI welcomes feedback from site users.