Japanese with Cardcaptor Sakura

For Cardcaptor Sakura, I’ve decided to do something different than the standard episode commentary. One reason is because I’ve already seen the episodes, and know everything happening in them. This is also why I’ve chosen to handle Princess Tutu episodes as a reference of music used in each episode. As mush as I would love to do analysis on an episode-by-episode basis there, my having seen the whole series would lend better to a (perhaps multi-part) full seires analysis.

But this post isn’t about Princess Tutu, this is about Cardcaptor Sakura.

I haven’t gotten very far with my Japanese grammar posts, and my studies are lacking because of it. Since I do spaced-repetition vocabulary review using the cross-platform Anki software, once I’ve learned a word, it shows up less and less. Once I comfortably learn all the words I’m studying, my reviews are down to one to five words each week. I need more than that! Unfortunately, my quest to pick up more words watching two series of Ojamajo Doremi didn’t work out very well. I did pick up new words to be sure, yes, but not many. Not even one per episode. Now that’s just sad. Watching without subtitles forced me to pay attention to the words, but that was split between also paying more attention to the animation. It’s amazing how much subtitles can distract, even if you’re a seasoned subtitles reader. Sometimes you don’t even notice it until you’re watching a well done dub.

Oh my, how did Cardcaptors get on here?

No, this post isn’t about any Cardcaptor Sakura dub, thank goodness. I plan to work my way through 70 episodes (and maybe two movies) of pure Japanese, no English subtitles Cardcaptor Sakura.

“Subtitles” is not a bad word when it comes to learning new Japanese words. It allows you to see which words are being used, so you can re-watch a scene, and listen carefully. If a word isn’t spoken clearly, you can look up the English subtitle in a translation dictionary and find the Japanese versions, then use this to more clearly understand the word as spoken. If you don’t know what’s being said, it can be more tricky to pick up on what characters are saying when it comes to words you don’t know. You instead have to pick up on rules of grammar, such as English words ending in the “-ing” sound being one form of verb.

I think the reason I failed to pick up many wods from 100 episodes of Ojamajo Doremi is because I didn’t have any expectation to pick up words. I think I walked away from those 100 episodes with less than 20 new verbs learned, a bad showing indeed. With Cardcaptor Sakura, it’ll be in the context of “Let’s see how many words I can recognize, and how many new ones I can pick up.” Anyone reading the posts can pick up new words and recognize old words from their own learning, giving me an extra incentive to continue. I have to “do it now” if I want to increase my vocabulary. Obviously reading a list of words isn’t going to be enough for me. I need visual mnemonics.

Wakatta. Understood.

Rather than watching an episode through, then trying to pick out words, or remember what I heard, I expect I’ll use a “stop and go” method. When I hear something I want to include in the post, I’ll stop, take a screenshot or three to visually show where the scene is, re-watching the scene as many times as necessary to type out the dialogue and its translation (including refering to my Nintendo DS and a Japanese dictionary with English words if need be for new-to-me words), typing out any related translation commentary, then continuing on watching. I can easily do this as I’ve already seen the series, so it won’t be jarring or holding me back from enjoying the series. The only issue I’ll have is a complete and utter lack of Japanese subtitles.

Before posting something for the first episode, I decided to try translating Cardcaptor Sakura‘s opening theme song, Catch You Catch Me. This didn’t go as well as I’d hoped for me, but I’ve always had trouble with song lyrics. I’ll still post it (across multiple posts, about one a day) before posting on the episodes.

Past posts of mine have shown scenes from an anime series with a transcription and translation of the dialogue in the scene. These work for me because I’m able to put the words into the context of a scene and the characters involved.

Whereas I’ve previously put kana and romaji side-by-side on similair posts, I’ve decided to drop the romaji for this series of posts. Others may use these posts as a learning aide, and anyone planning on learning Japanese needs to be able to read kana. Having romaji is only a crutch, and a harmful one at that.

The same can be said about kanji, but my kanji knowledge is limited. I’ll try to add in a kanji here and there, but I may make mistakes.

Let's break this wall of text, shall we?

I’ve decided to put all names in kana, rather than romaji, when using the name in an English sentence (excepting full-sentence translations). For someone struggling to learn kana, this would make for a nice amount of repetition of letters, a good way to become familiar with them. For someone who already knows kana, this can help with speed of word recognition.

I’ll also openly welcome transcriptions of scenes from an episode in that episode post’s comments, which I could add to the post. I’m sure there are many, many, many out there with better Japanese understanding than I have.

This is not a fansub project. This is not an attempt to do a full series fan translation of Cardcaptor Sakura. This is a learning experiment.

(By the way, whoever said Tomoyo is subtle about things obviously never asked her to break a wall of text.)

6 Responses to “Japanese with Cardcaptor Sakura”

  1. Asuka Says:

    In terms of learning Japanese, I’ve found it useful to keep a Japanese diary, as well as talk to myself in this language. Learning a language isn’t all about listening to dialogues; it also involves actively constructing your own sentences. In terms of diary-writing, I start by writing entire entries in hiragana and katakana, with minimal correct grammar. This helps to consolidate the hiragana and katakana characters in my memory. Doing this also makes me more attentive of the vocabulary and grammar elements that I encounter while watching Japanese shows or reading Japanese blogs. I am thus motivated to learn these new elements so I can incorporate them into my writing.

    As strange as it may sound, I also randomly talk to myself in Japanese. An example would be “Hirugohan o tabetai na~” when I’m thinking about lunch, or “Ima, sentaku o shimasu” when I’m about to do laundry. If I want to say something but don’t know the word for it, I’d consult the dictionary and learn it for future uses.

    These strategies might not work for you, but feel free to try them out. :)

  2. Chris Says:

    The diary writing sounds good. I can understand various forms of sentence as I read them, but when it comes to writing I’d drawn several blanks quickly. That, and I have difficulty picking up and retaining vocabulary (in any language). I’ve also been told I should find someone else learning Japanese to practice with, but my schedule wouldn’t allow for going back and forth via instant messenger with any learner I may come across.

    But! I’m not one to simply complain about my lack of progress. Instead, I’m always coming up with various methods to try out. I’m hoping this Sakura method will lead to me seeing repeated use of sentence patterns and to adding more and more words to my daily review cards.

  3. Asuka Says:

    I draw blanks too when I write (not just in Japanese – it happens for English as well). That’s why I kept at the task of writing in Japanese, so the embarrassment of not being able to write proper sentences would propel me to learn the language.

    I have never tried to converse in MSN Messenger with another language-learning student, and I’d imagine it to be quite inconvenient unless you can find someone of equal or higher ability (otherwise they won’t be able to catch your mistakes). A lot of people have also recommended finding Japanese friends to practice with, but this kind of backfired on me because 1) I ended up worrying about accidentally offending them, and 2) they were equally interested in learning English. Now we just talk in mostly English with a few Japanese words thrown in here and there.

    Sometimes I do what you do – rewatch an anime episode so many times that I can practically recite the lines. It helps. :D

  4. Merc Says:

    Good again,brilliant work. <3

  5. Merc Says:

    By the way i used to watch Cardcaptors when i was little…but not the original one.

  6. shakira Says:

    i love carcaptor sakura so much, ilove shaoran Le blushes when she saw sakura ad he’s a kind person right?