My Japanese Coach – Because I’m too lazy to actually study the language

by eternal on October 25, 2008

For those of you who have yet to hear about this little gem of a DS game, My Japanese Coach is the latest in the “coach” series, which is yet another one of Nintendo’s ploys to ignore the hardcore and sell to the masses. However, this time I’m not complaining, because as you well know, any self-respecting anime blogger or otaku should learn at least a little Japanese in their lifetime – and if they can do it through a video game, then why not?

As always, the usual gaming sources can provide a much more in-depth look at how the game works than a blogger can, but to sum it up, the game isn’t half bad. Basically, you read through a short lesson that introduces a few words to you, play a few minigames (drawing cards for kana, flash cards, whack-a-mole [don’t know how they thought of that], etc), and when you “master” all of the words by playing enough minigames, you unlock the next lesson.

Sound simple? Well, it is – and to me, that’s a good thing. Depending on your level of knowledge of Japanese this game will probably be either really easy or really hard; obviously, a person who has actually gone to classes probably shouldn’t be playing a game like this, but to anyone else it should prove to be a useful tool. True beginners might have a little trouble, seeing as basic words are thrown at you right off the bat and kana is introduced within the first 10 lessons (out of, I believe, 100), but practice makes perfect – and I doubt any of us are that amateur anyhow.

On the downside, I don’t believe that the game works as a real learning tool, despite it’s appearances. Discussion has, of course, been going on, and a certain review was posted by an ex-fansubber (not that ex-fansubber) who apparently used to edit for the now-defunct No Name Losers. On a totally irrelevant sidenote, skimming through what is evidently now GipFace’s personal blog and discovering that NNL is actually based in Toronto, I’m struck with a sudden urge to get involved in the translation community, but I neither know how to read Japanese nor how to do any of those fancy techie stuff, so all I’d really be good for is…well, actually, I wouldn’t be able to help out at all. Oh well. I suppose ef will have to remain untranslated until I miraculously start studying Japanese and form my own translation group. …Yeah, that’s definitely not going to happen.

But getting back on topic, as you can see, the game has both pros and cons. From what I’ve heard, it fails to replace or supplement textbooks and classes, but all honesty, who actually expected it to replace them in the first place? I know I didn’t. While MJC (evidently) might not be able to properly teach you Japanese, it does force some basic knowledge into your skull, and it does it a lot better than pretending to learn through anime like all the kids do. If you’re like me and you don’t want to take several hours out of every weekend to go to class, then this game – because yes, it’s still technically a game – will definitely help you out. I’ve hardly played it yet, but I already memorized a few things (albeit irrelevant things), and I know a bit more grammar today than I did yesterday. It’s far from flawless, as I’m sure anyone who actually speaks Japanese can tell you, but hey, it’s a game – and some knowledge is definitely better than no knowledge.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

M12 October 26, 2008 at 5:12 am

Haha, that’s a hilarious software. I wonder if it’ll be a FUN game?

M12s last blog post..Zomfg do it now!


Optic October 26, 2008 at 5:29 am

Might pick it up on my trip. It good learning on the go. ^^

Optics last blog post..Another figma dilemma


FuyuMaiden October 26, 2008 at 10:52 am

Ah, I should get this game. Maybe this would be a DS game I’d actually play for more than a week. I doubt it’s that fun for me (I hated games when I was learning Spanish), but it’s better than what I have been doing these past two months (nothing).

FuyuMaidens last blog post..Shugo Chara!! Doki – Episode 55


Rin October 27, 2008 at 12:17 am

Well, it’s a game I think I should look into…
Learning Japanese is needed if non japanese otaku goes to Japan…
I learned that the hard way…
I say that game could come in handy someday…

Rins last blog post..Was It Worth It…Yes…


Blowfish October 27, 2008 at 12:36 pm

This sounds actually quite good to get a grip of the basics but it wont beat a class or real self study^^
Is it just an American or worldwide release?

Blowfishs last blog post..Someone stop me!


ETERNAL October 27, 2008 at 9:12 pm

@ M12: It’s not too bad in terms of “fun”, but I wouldn’t really consider it to be a video game, either.

@ Optic: Actually, I was thinking that I should do the same thing on my trip next week :P

@ FuyuMaiden: Indeed, it’s much better than doing nothing, and that was my biggest reason for deciding to get it ;P

@ Rin: Yeah, I’m sure that it would be pretty hard to wander around Akiba without being able to read the signs (as well as the stuff you’re buying). I’m not sure when I’ll end up in Japan myself, but hopefully I’ll at least learn survival Japanese in the next two years.

@ Blowfish: I never bothered to check (I’m sure GameFAQs has the answer), but as far as I know the DS isn’t region locked, so as long as you can understand English (which you obviously can) you should be able to play it.


Kairu Ishimaru October 28, 2008 at 4:34 am

Is that available in the fckin’ country of mine, Philippines?

Kairu Ishimarus last blog post..Toradora, Kannagi and Hyakko: Episode 3


Americajin October 29, 2008 at 7:30 pm

I picked it up… its been helpful up till now even cause I only been using Pimsleur CDs to learn Japanese…
But I do like these kind of products and want more! :)

Americajins last blog post..Women of Warcraft


ETERNAL October 31, 2008 at 6:16 pm

@ Kairu Ishimaru: Well, it came out today in Europe (evidently), and it’s scheduled to show up in Australia in November, so I’m guessing you should be able to get your hands on it.

@ Americajin: Pimsleur…I should probably check that out sometime :P


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