Where to Watch Japanese Dubbed Movies and How You Can Learn From Them
Dubbed movies suck. Right?
They’re dubbed, not dumber!
While hardcore movie buffs say subtitles are the only way to enjoy foreign films, dubbed movies can be an invaluable tool for Japanese learners who are working on improving their listening and comprehension skills.
In this guide, I’ll share some of the best places to find Japanese dubbed movies, as well as tips for studying with them.
- Where to Watch Japanese Dubbed Movies
- Japanese Movies to Watch
- How Dubbed Movies Can Help You Learn Japanese
- Methods for Learning Japanese with Dubbed Movies
Where to Watch Japanese Dubbed Movies
There are plenty of video-on-demand services available in Japan that offer dubbed films as well as the latest TV shows, but these VOD options are technically unavailable outside Japan. To access these outside of Japan, you’ll need a top-notch VPN service like HideMyAss!
Before you start searching for a specific movie, it’s worth finding out what the movie title is in Japanese. In some cases, movie titles are simply katakana versions of the original title. But many movies are given an entirely new title, complete with all that difficult kanji.
Blu-ray.com is a great place to start looking for Japanese dubbed movies. In their search window, you can select “Japan” and then type in the movie title. This will bring you to the Japanese version of the disc, but make sure to check that the disc specifies that it has both English and Japanese audio tracks, not just Japanese subtitles.
Clicking to purchase on Blu-ray.com actually leads you to the corresponding Amazon.co.jp page. The site just makes it a lot easier to find the movie you’re looking for because it’s all in English.
2. Amazon Japan
Amazon Japan carries a wide selection of content. You can either browse through their selection of gaikoku eiga (外国映画 / がいこくえいが, foreign films) on DVD or on Blu-ray, or you can type in the name of a specific movie in their search window.
Once you find the movie that you’re looking for, make sure it actually has Japanese dubbing and not just Japanese subtitles. Just scroll down to check the DVD details and see if next to “Language” it has 日本語 (にほんご, Japanese) written next to it.
Before you buy, remember to check the region the disc was made for. The U.S. is Region 1 and Japan is Region 2. Although some discs are region-free, many are only viewable on Region 2 players, so make sure you have a compatible machine or software on your computer that’ll enable you to watch it.
3. Amazon Prime Video Japan
The well-known Amazon Prime Video offers a wide variety of films and TV, and its Japanese counterpart is no different. Its library of exclusive shows and Japanese dubbed movies is quite vast, providing endless hours of entertainment… oops, I mean study!
With the same interface across both languages, even newcomers to Japanese will be able to navigate Prime’s website without too much hassle.
A tried and true favorite for watching videos all across the world. YouTube is a wonderful source for Japanese dubbed movies, though please be aware that not all of these uploads are legal.
Many Japanese dubs of popular films and music can be found easily. Why not start with “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen 2”? Additional favorites like the classic “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and hit series “The Mandalorian” also have Japanese versions available. Again, not all of these films are legally uploaded, so keep that in mind while you’re browsing for resources.
It naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You’ll learn real Japanese as it’s spoken in real life.
Just take a look at the wide variety of authentic video content available in the program. Here’s a small sample:
You’ll discover tons of new Japanese vocabulary through these great clips.
Don’t worry about your skill level being an issue when it comes to understanding the language. FluentU makes native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts.
Tap on any word to look it up instantly.
You’ll see definitions, in-context usage examples and helpful illustrations. Simply tap “add” to send interesting vocabulary words to your personal vocab list for later review.
FluentU even uses a learning program which adapts to your specific needs to turn every video into a language learning lesson and get you to actively practice your newly-learned language skills.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
GYAO! is a video streaming service through Yahoo! Japan that offers dramas, news, music, and more.
This free site offers movies and TV shows dubbed into Japanese, as well as a collection of subtitled media. Though the selection isn’t the widest out there, it’s hard to beat that price tag of $0.
U-NEXT is one of the first video subscription services in Japan and continues to offer the largest collection of media in the nation.
It has a wide variety of Hollywood movies—Disney/Pixar, Classics, Academy-Award-winning films and more, all dubbed in Japanese. They also offer Japanese dubs of foreign TV shows, including hits like “Supernatural” and “Hawaii 5-0.”
Disney+ is the streaming service that’s home to a range of Disney movies and shows.
You have the option to watch with Japanese dubbing across a selection of films and programs, and you can also choose which language you would like the subtitles to be in, making it a useful learning resource.
Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services across a range of countries, and depending on the country you’re in, a range of different content is available, from movies and TV shows, to documentaries and more.
Just go to the audio/subtitles section while watching something and select the Japanese audio if they have it. You may need to use a VPN to widen your options.
Lemino, short for Docomo TV, is a video streaming service provided by Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile phone carrier.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to have a Docomo phone plan to use it! For a cheap monthly fee, you have access to over 12,000 titles, including Japan’s top hits. (Some episodes and films are even free!)
11. Hulu Japan
This option reportedly works in the U.S. when used with a VPN. But as it’s a paid monthly service, you most likely won’t need it unless you plan on doing the majority of your TV and movie viewing in Japanese or with subtitles.
Streaming video is the cheapest (i.e. free), and most legally dubious option. Trying different search engines with the Japanese expression for 日本語吹替え版 (にほんごふきかえばん, Japanese-dubbed version) should produce results, although they’re kind of random. A double feature of “Patch Adams” and “Men in Black,” anyone?
Searching for the term 洋画 (ようが, Western movie) may get you closer to what you’re looking for, or your favorite movie title followed by 吹き替え(ふきかえーdubbed). Also, a search for 吹き替え映画 (ふきかええいが, dubbed movies) brings up a collection of Western films with Japanese dubbing on Niconico, a Japanese video streaming service similar to Youtube. Try watching “Alien” or “Star Wars: Episode 3” in Japanese!
Japanese Movies to Watch
Movies are a great way to increase your Japanese language input, so if you want to expand beyond dubbed content, you can check out these modern Japanese classics.
Or, if you want to make your way through some culturally significant films, you can take a look at the 25 best Japanese movies of all time.
Not to mention the wealth of iconic Japanese animated movies that are sure to keep you entertained, as well as improve your Japanese skills at the same time.
How Dubbed Movies Can Help You Learn Japanese
The best thing about watching your all-time favorite movie dubbed in Japanese is your familiarity with the story—you don’t have to guess about what’s going on in the story at all.
Another great reason to watch the dubbed version of “The Empire Strikes Back,” or whatever movie you’ve seen 100 times, is that it taps into your inner Ebert. You most likely love to talk, maybe even argue, about the film. Make that passion work for you and it’ll help you convey your opinions in Japanese, as opposed to memorizing a standardized conversation from a textbook.
Having trouble finding eager study partners? Your Japanese friends are likely crazy about at least one movie. Find out what they like the best and then invite them over to watch the dubbed version.
They probably wouldn’t mind re-watching the movie with you. Meanwhile, you’re laying the foundation for a future conversation in Japanese with your friends about these movies.
Another idea for choosing what to watch is finding a movie with a protagonist who has a similar lifestyle or career as you. Since the situations are ones you can easily relate to, you’ll encounter a lot of useful vocabulary and phrases.
Methods for Learning Japanese with Dubbed Movies
1. Enjoy the darn movie.
The first time you watch a dubbed movie, whether it’s one you’ve seen before or a first-time viewing, just enjoy it. Give your brain a rest. You’re going to be re-watching it, so simply listen without trying to translate.
Eventually, you’ll begin to distinguish words and understand their meanings purely based on the context.
2. Watch actively the second time around.
Upon subsequent viewings, have a notebook ready. What key vocabulary from the dialogue would be necessary for you to adequately rehash the story for someone to understand? Hone in on those words or phrases and create a list that you’ll be able to look up later.
3. Parrot it all back.
Famous lines of Hollywood dialogue are also fun to repeat in Japanese. Put on your best Schwarzenegger impression and tell people “I’ll be back” like you’re a tough guy yakuza. Memorize a famous monologue and try out your Japanese acting skills. Toho Studios is always looking for the odd 外国人 (がいこくじん, foreigner) to cast in a film. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up being dubbed back into English one day!
So, now you have everything you need to get started with watching Japanese dubbed movies. You’ll be on your way to improving your language skills in no time!