Ever watched a Japanese anime and wondered what they were saying? Okay, well you’ve probably watched it with subtitles, but what exactly do the words really mean? And how can you learn and apply them?
For many, learning Japanese is common, not only in the U.S where anime has taken off with stunning alacrity since its debut in the 80s but in many countries around the world. Still, progress can be slow and catching on to exactly what your favorite character is saying can be harder still with a large vocabulary, slang, and the speed of normal or accelerated speech. It certainly isn’t classroom learning. However, many people pick up a fair deal of Japanese just by watching anime or other Japanese movies. The trouble comes in when learning the exact meaning or how to actually use the terms or phrases. For this purpose, I have created a guide on basic “anime Japanese” and tips on how to use it.
Japanese is spoken with various degrees of formality depending on a person position, age, and relation to you (the speaker). As such, casual phrases should be used among friends and people one’s own age. More formal speech should be taken with elders, teachers, and the like.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it can and will prove extremely useful on the road to learning and speaking basic conversational Japanese. That alone is enough to push you in your studies and encourage practice with other Japanese speakers. Try getting a Japanese penpal. There are a great many websites that deal with language exchange and your pen pal can help you with Japanese and expose you to a more comprehensive study of the language. In turn, you’ll be able to expose them to the same benefits of the English language. It’s a win-win situation.
Watashi: I (casual)
Anata: You (This isn’t used often as it is usual in Japan to refer to people by their name
instead of you.)
Konbanwa: Good Evening
Moshi Moshi!: Hello (said on the phone or used to get one’s attention).
Ohayo Gozaimasu: Good morning. (Can be said without “gozaimasu” in casual speech).
Otto: Sorry! Oops!
Itai!: Ouch! It’s painful!
Yattaa!: I (we) did it! Yippee! (Can also be followed by “ne”)
Uso!: You lie!
Commonly heard words:
Akunin: Villian, Enemy
Baka: Stupid, foolish
Kawaiku nai: Not cute
Shikashi: But, however
Commonly heard expressions in anime
Abunai!: Danger! Dangerous. (Commonly used in the context of yelling to someone to
watch out. Ex: someone can use this phrase if a friend is walking close to the
road and a car is passing close by. To prevent injury they would say “abunai.”)
Arigatoo: Thank you! (Informal)
Arigatoo Gozaimasu: Thank you! (Formal)
Chigaimasu: No it isn’t. It isn’t true.
Chotto matte: Wait! Wait up! Wait a second.
Daijyobu desu ka: Are you all right?
Daisuki Yannen: I like you! I love you! (Used to express a very strong like or love.)
Dakarananda: So what? Who gives a damn?
Damare!: Shut up!
Dame desu: It’s no good.
Doo desu ka: How is it?
Doo iu imi desu ka: What does it mean?
Doo Shimashita ka: What happened?
Genki desu ka: How are you?
Hayaku: Hurry up!
Honto ni: Really? Is it true?
Ikimashoo ka: Shall we go?
Irashaimase: Welcome. (Usually used when entering a shop or restaurant.)
Itte kimasu: I’ll be back
Kawaisooni: How pitiful. (Japanese kana literally translate the romaji into “kawaisouni”
the “o” sound is long and is as such spelt “kawaisooni” in many resources.)
Ki o tsukete kudasai: Take care. Be careful.
Mada desu: Not yet.
Mairimasu: I’ll be back
Masaka: Ridiculous! It can’t be!
Mita, mita: What a pain.
Mochiron: Of course!
Naruhodo: I see.
Oshisashiburi desu: Long time no see.
Shiranai yo: I don’t know (Casual)
Shirimasen: I don’t know. (A more polite form)
Shizukani shite kudasai: Please be quiet. (A more polite term)
Soo da to omoimasu: I think so.
Soo omoimasen: I don’t think so.
Sore wan nan desu ka: What is that?
Uso deshoo: Are you kidding? Are you serious?
Urusai: Shut up! (Literally noisy or loud, but is used as a term for shut up in most animes.)
Wakarimasen: I don’t understand. (A more polite form)
Wakatta: I understand. (Casual)
Wakatta no: Do you understand? (Casual. Said with a rising intonation)
Yamero!: Stop it!
Yare, yare: Well, well
Yokatta desu ne: How nice! I’m glad! (For future event)
Yoku Dekimashita: Well done.
Yorokonde: With pleasure.
Zannen desu ne: How disappointing, that’s too bad. (For future events)
Zannen deshita ne: How disappointing, that’s too bad. (For past events)