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Japanese Shows with Chinese Subtitles


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Lately I have been watching a lot of Japanese TV shows that have Chinese subtitles. I'm doing this mainly because I think it will improve my reading speed. Watching Chinese shows doesn't help with reading speed since I can process spoken language much faster and I end up ignoring the subtitles. Reading novels mostly seems to increase my vocabulary, which cuts down on the time I need to spend looking words up, but doesn't actually increase the speed at which I recognize characters.

But why Japanese shows in particular, and not Korean or Cantonese? Here are my reasons:

- Japanese shows are much shorter. A typical season ranges from 10 to 12 episodes. Also the length of episodes is shorter, with many shows only running for 30 minutes.

- Greater genre diversity. For instance, there are more science fiction shows on Japanese TV.

- Slightly more interesting subject matter. Most Asian TV is terrible, but I feel like Japanese TV takes a few more risks, and this results in a few shows that are not quite as terrible.

- Easy to find. A lot of Japanese shows air on Taiwan/Hong Kong TV stations, ensuring that Chinese-subtitled versions are readily available on the internet.

I started watching Japanese shows as part of the Grand Chinese TV Watching Challenge, but I figured I should stop hijacking that thread. From now on I'll post new updates about my Japanese TV watching escapades here. If anyone has any recommendations about which shows I should watch next, I'd love to hear them. I'm mostly just randomly picking shows that appear in my PPTV index.

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This post basically just recaps some of what I originally wrote in the Grand TV Watching thread, except that any mention of non-Japanese shows has been excised.

I watched the first episode of 肌肉女孩 (a Japanese show with Chinese subtitles), and even though I was only reading the dialogue through the subtitles, I found the show to be willfully, aggressively dumb. I actually liked the premise, though: a financially struggling professional women's wresting club has three months to win a major tournament in order to pay off their debts.

克隆宝贝: A science fiction show about clones and stolen identities. A high school student wakes up in the hospital after being supposedly murdered. Over time he learns that not only has his mysterious birthmark disappeared, a stranger has taken his place at school and at home, with hardly anyone remembering who he is. This show has some promise, although I don't really like the high school setting.

另一面KARA: This show is a turd, although a very polished turd. A Korean girl group gets a new manager, who happens to be a futuristic robot butler that gives them "love missions" that require them to seduce hapless dudes. Truly bizarre and idiotic. Most of the dialogue is in Korean, although one character is Japanese and the female lead only talks to him in Japanese.

牙狼魔界战记: One of those tokusatsu shows from Japan, ala Power Rangers. Except this one is a lot of cheesy, breezy fun. A dude with a samurai sword has to defend Tokyo from demons. That's pretty much it. Oh, except he can transform into an armored golden wolf for 90 seconds. And he has a magic ring that talks. I want to see more of this show, although I don't have very high hopes for subsequent episodes.

堂吉诃德: A social worker and a yakuza boss switch bodies. This show wasn't too bad.

Q10: A high school boy finds a female robot in the science room of his school. I typically don't like shows with a Japanese high school setting, and this show didn't change my opinion at all.

父女七日变: A father and his teenage daughter switch bodies. I was pleasantly surprised by this show. It had a lot of weird moments that were actually pretty funny.

天堂之花: Post-apocalyptic sci-fi, done poorly.

漂流教室: Based on a classic horror manga, this TV adaptation basically changed everything except the basic premise -- a school gets mysteriously transported to an unknown time and place. I couldn't get much of a feel for this show in the first episode, since it spent most of its running time introducing its many characters and the transport only happened at the very end.

问题男人: A fun action show where a hapless do-gooder basically has the worst day of his life, as he falls into one bad situation after another. This was a very good first episode.

漂流网吧: A net cafe gets mysteriously transported to an unknown time and place. Sound familiar? It's similarly hard to figure out where this show was going, both figuratively and literally.

HUNTER: Nice little comedy about an air stewardess who, through various bizarre circumstances, becomes a bounty hunter. A pretty good first episode.

刺猬男生: About an alternate universe Japan where a race of hedgehog people exist alongside normal humans. Not a great first episode overall, but the ending was so weird, I feel like I just have to watch episode 2.

鹿男与美丽的奈良: The stylized subtitle font made this one hard to follow. It's basically about a research scientist who loses his post and has to move to a small remote town to teach at an all-girls high school. There are a lot of plot points in this first episode, from a mystical fish to talking deer, but nothing feels very consequential. Probably a good show that takes a while to build up.

MM9: About a paranormal animal investigation team. This was just OK. It doesn't seem like the kind of show that is particularly exciting.

圈套: A rather famous show about a paranormal investigation duo. I only watched about half of the first episode but it was very solid. Will certainly watch at least a few more episodes.

刑警犬子 - Utterly ridiculous show about a young female detective with a spectacular sense of smell. This was OK, but the show banks too much on the charm of its star, and unfortunately I don't think she's quite charming enough.

SPEC - It seems like just another quirky police procedural, until the final act twist that reveals the criminal to have superpowers. This was actually quite good, and pretty funny to boot.

摔角妖精宫殿 - One day Japan will make a decent show about female professional wrestlers. That day hasn't come yet.

富豪刑事 - Crappy police procedural about an aristocratic heiress who becomes a detective. To watch this is to have your intelligence insulted roughly every 30 seconds.

华丽的间谍 - A convicted con artist gets recruited by the Japanese government to be a super spy. This was pretty good as it introduced viewers to its Austin Powers-like world, but the second half devolved into a poor reenactment of Speed. It's a shame because the male lead in this show is quite funny.

黄金猪 - A convicted con artist gets recruited by the Japanese government to be a tax fraud investigator. Not bad, but not very good either. Includes a nut-grabbing scene that is a bit hard to watch.

勇士闯魔城 - A gentle satire of Japanese RPGs. About as good as you'd expect, which is not very.

性感声音和ROBO - A middle schooler with a sexy voice and an anime robot otaku team up to solve random cases. Even though it's based on a manga, this show's pacing is sloth-like and the story unfolds in a meandering, dopey way. About 3/4 through I started reading a book.

牙狼魔界战记 - Because this week's crop of episodes was a bit weak, I broke my own rule and watched episode 2 of this show. I really like the leanness of the storytelling. It's a silly action show, and doesn't waste any time trying to convince you otherwise. I wish Chinese wuxia shows were more like this.

妖怪人间贝姆: Sci-fi/fantasy about three science experiment mutants who are trying to find a way to become human. Sort of an inverted tokusatsu show. Strange but mediocre.

怪盗Royal: A heist show starring pretty boys and girls. Maybe I didn't understand everything, but the amazing heist at the centerpiece of the show didn't seem all that amazing. Might watch the second episode to see what the deal is with the machine gun toting nun.

傻大姐 - Office romance drama with a touch of 姐弟恋. I guess it isn't bad for what it is, but it's not for me.

和恶魔契约的女人 - Revenge thriller. The weird twist in this show is that the investigator finds the killer right away. But clearly more people are going to die, so how is the killer going to keep operating while under scrutiny? It's an interesting premise, but I don't really like the slow pacing of this show.

灵能者小田雾响子的谎言 - An amusing comedy that tries to answer the question of whether parkour and fake spiritualism can be combined to create an unstoppable crime-fighting force. The answer is apparently yes.

临死江古田 - A somewhat lowbrow comedy about a nudist who works as a hostess. Either it's not very funny or I didn't get the jokes. I think the former is more likely.

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This is good for those who don't know any Japanese. I tend to ignore the Chinese subs on Japanese shows because I'm working on my Japanese listening instead! lol

Asian TV isn't terrible... it's the reason I started Chinese and Japanese! ...major deja vous, I think I had a dream where I wrote a reply on a forum like this. (shows how often I read forums..)

I tend to prefer talk-shows/variety shows to drama though, except a few really good dramas. I got tired of the same plots used over and over, probably from watching so much anime. I actually prefer American movies and shows dubbed in Japanese, since I know them so well already from watching the English as a kid, I can compare and contrast, and reflect on what I've learned about the language.

If you want to improve your reading speed, I suggest playing a lot of Pokemon/Dragon Quest/Final Fantasy etc... There is a lot of scrolling, repeated text, and I'm sure you can find a Chinese version of them somewhere.

It's also a good way to learn vocabulary you wouldn't normally hear, since it's more of an inner dialogue when you do things like search a treasure chest, etc...

Either way, so many random battles in DQ will get you reading FAST.

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I've played a lot of Japanese video games with Chinese text, and it hasn't helped much at all. Most games don't force you to read the text quickly, and if they do, then the text is likely not integral to the gameplay. Whereas if you don't read the subtitles on a TV show, you'll have little idea of what's going on.

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Part of my struggle has been getting over "whether it's important or not."

The way I see it, EVERYTHING is important. That way, you force yourself to pay attention to every bit of text you see.

Just saying, it's an exercise in order to increase your reading speed. Don't worry about content until later on, when you're fluent enough to skip stuff.

That's just me though.

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Turn down the volume?

That might work if I could only turn down the voices. Most shows would suffer if stripped of their music and sound effects. Actually, I think they would suffer without voices, too. So, if there was some software that could transform all spoken dialogue to "blah blah blah" like in Charlie Brown, that might work.

Eventually you're going to start picking up Japanese, and then you're going to start ignoring the Chinese

There's no danger of that happening. I've been watching anime for more than a decade, and I still basically understand no Japanese.

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推理要在晚餐后: Another entry in the "hyper-competent butler" genre. This time the master is a female detective with an aristocratic background (gee, sounds awfully familiar) who employs a butler with genius detective skills. Mediocre.

家政妇三田: Another entry in the "hyper-competent housekeeper" genre. Think Mary Poppins but much more robotically efficient. This first episode was actually quite interesting, since it's hard to see where the show is going. There were some humorous moments but also some slightly creepy moments. The main character herself is still a complete cipher. I'll probably watch at least one more episode.

绝对零度: Standard cold case police procedural. Absolutely brutal to follow, as the characters talk fast while throwing out forensic terms. I managed to understand the gist of the plot but didn't find any of the characters compelling.

牙狼魔界战记: I watched another two episodes of this show. They were a little disappointing. I was expecting the central plot to move forward a little bit more, but these two episodes were almost completely self-contained stories. Basically, Kouga fights on a bike, then he fights in a casino.

美咲NO1: Typical "inspirational teacher from an unusual background" show. This time the main character is Roppongi's number one hostess, who takes charge of a class of problem students at an elite private high school. Silly, but not very much fun. The student characters in particular are insufferable.

潘多拉: Crime thriller with a medical theme. A scientist takes on a homeless girl for his experimental cancer drug trials, but the girl has some connection with a recent murder. Surprisingly easy to follow, since I usually have trouble keeping up with medical and forensic terminology. Unfortunately the science character is just too much of a spaz.

灵异女孩月子: A heartwarming comedy about a girl with the ability to see and converse with spirits. Mediocre.

面探型男: Slapstick comedy about a noodle stand run by three handsome dudes. Maybe the jokes are just untranslatable, but they wern't funny at all. I quit this show after watching just ten minutes.

明天的喜多兽男: Some sad sack wants to kill himself in 11 days. Before doing so, he attempts to tie up some loose ends. Way too sappy, and the main character is unbelievably pathetic.

佐佐木之战: Romantic comedy about two lawyers who marry and divorce, then somehow get back together again. I guess I didn't give it a fair shake but I just can't stand the lead actress in this show.

我的太太是魔女: This is the Japanese version of Bewitched. It's probably about as good as the original American version. In other words, it's goddamn awful.

全职主妇侦探: A detective comedy about a housewife who becomes a private eye. Another comedy starring that one actress who keeps getting comedic roles even though she's not funny.

我的天空 - 刑警篇: Hot-blooded rookie detective show. The "twist" is that the detective comes from an aristocratic background (this is seriously becoming a cliche). Started off with a fun, goofy scene, but then got too serious for its own good.

名侦探的守则: A parody of detective shows. This is the kind of show where characters keep breaking the fourth wall to discuss how best to satisfy the audience's expectations. The premise is clever, but the end product is merely tolerable.

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女警: Mismatched police partner comedy. One is a seasoned detective, the other is a rookie who's terrible at everything except sharpshooting. Will they be able to overcome their differences and blah blah blah? This was just OK.

我的妹妹: Family drama about a college medical professor and his money-grubbing sister. Boring!

牙狼魔界战记第5集: Kouga has to fight a monster who's been installing demonic manhole covers around the city. He duly fulfills his civic duty by lighting his big-ass sword on fire and cutting the monster in two. I'm honestly not sure why I'm so determined to finish this show.

Mr Brain: A police science comedy that has Van Halen's "Jump" as it's theme song! This was really hard to understand, since the main character is an expert in cognitive science and basically just throws out science terms like crazy. I didn't even get how he manages to prove the criminal's guilt. Maybe I'll revisit this one again later.

完美报道: About a super-determined reporter who's also an excellent bowler. It's better than it sounds, but not by much.

I didn't watch many TV shows, because I spent quite a bit of time watching movies.

宇宙战舰大和号: The latest outing for the vaunted Space Battleship Yamato franchise. This was not too bad! Although this is sci-fi, it was pretty easy to understand. A ton of heroic sacrifices throughout. But you know you have character development problems when the most moving sacrifice comes from the robot character.

鬼神传: An animated fantasy movie for kids. Very easy to understand. Started out OK, but got pretty bad by the end. Although this is a Japanese production, it looks like a lot of Chinese people worked on it.

铁拳-血之复仇: Another terrible Tekken movie! Unimpressive in just about every possible way. The only enjoyable thing in this movie is the panda character, and she has no lines.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks, but maybe you can help me with my search method, since I am new to searching for Chinese programming. To tell you the truth, I am still mostly in the dark when searching for Japanese stuff, even though I've been doing it longer. Practice makes perfect, but is there a standardized way of naming files on internet sites such as Youku or Tudou? I seem to notice some patterns, but I'm unaware of all of the internet-isms of Chinese websites.

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