I am always on the lookout for Japanese listening practice materials. Listening is by far my worst Japanese skill, lagging badly behind the others. Actually I sometimes find English hard to hear too, so this is a general problem for me.
I have just discovered a new resource for easy listening practice in the Paboo Project. This is a series of free anime for young children. As it is intended to be free, it probably won’t be taken down from YouTube the way Anpanman and other favorites continually are.
The show is actually centered around romaji letters and English words, but don’t let that worry you. The English content is actually tiny – a very brief introduction to today’s moji (English letter in this case) and some letters and a word acting as the dea ex machina near the end,in the manner of Popeye’s spinach or Anpanman’s atarashii kao (new head*). Other than that (and the shop signs) the show is 100% Japanese and excellent for easy Japanese listening practice.
The show features an endearing cast of characters as well as a dastardly couple clearly based on Baikinman and Dokin-chan – but not so villainous and not so regular. They only appear occasionally. The shows deal on the whole with much more everyday situations, so they are good for everyday Japanese listening practice. A little childish of course, but then this site isn’t called Kawaii Japanese for nothing.
Here is a sample to enjoy.
* Kao is regularly translated as “face” while atama is “head”. Here is an example of the fact that words are rarely exactly equivalent in nuance across languages. “New face” does not convey what is meant by atarashii kao in Anpanman. In English we need to say “new head” to get the same sense.