Learning Japanese Through Final Fantasy

As readers may recall, I am a big fan of the Final Fantasy series of games, and have been since I was 10 years old playing the original Final Fantasy for the NES. One of my favorite games in the series of Final Fantasy IV, which was originally released in the US as Final Fantasy II.

I played this game a lot in high-school, and sometimes I would cut class with my friend and play at his house. I was really into it. Thankfully I managed (barely) to graduate school, but as an adult, I wasn’t able to play the game anymore. Recently, someone bought me an iTunes gift-card for my birthday, and I used it to purchase the iPhone version of this game. The newer iPhone version is much improved over the original version I used to play as a kid, plus they fixed all the translation mistakes.1

But the best part, is that you can play the game in Japanese if you switch your phone to Japanese mode:


Here’s me (the handsome character in the middle) talking to someone in town:


When I first played, I kind of struggled a bit. I knew how to play the game because I played so many times before, but I couldn’t read the dialogue easily, or the different commands. Many of the items and magic spells are not quite the same as in English, so I had to gradually figure out what does what. Plus, I had to use the dictionary. It’s not practical to look up every single word I don’t understand, so I only used the dictionary when it was necessary to understand something (or I kept seeing it), but I learned a lot of words this way.

But since I enjoy this game so much, i found that I kept playing and playing despite the language challenge. I think this is what AJATT means by doing what you like doing but in your target language. If you like playing Nintendo games, why not play them in Japanese? It doesn’t feel like work at all, yet you are learning the language you want to learn.

Similarly, I found that of all the Japanese podcasts I used to listen to, the only one I still consistently enjoy listening to is a Japanese podcast about Korea. Because I get to learn more about Korean culture and language through Japanese conversations, it keeps my attention. I stopped listening to other podcasts because they were usually just inane conversations about someone’s daily life or about politics (which I dislike). I wasn’t really learning anything useful.

So, the point is: if you want to learn a language, and stick with it, find something you already enjoy, and just do it in that language. 🙂

1 I also own the Sony port of the game for the original Playstation. It is more like the original, but the dialogue and translations are much improved.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

2 thoughts on “Learning Japanese Through Final Fantasy”

  1. I completely agree with you that doing what you like in a language you are learning is a great way to become fluent in it. I have played games, read books, listened to podcasts, and about everything else I can think of in Japanese, and it’s really helped me learn all sorts of expressions and help my listening ability.


    1. Yeah, I found that if I didn’t like the podcast in general, I just never had the motivation to keep it up. So motiviation is a huge, huge factor in keeping up with language studies.


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