One of the great things about anime — aside from the insanely cute magical critters and copious androgynous hotties — is that if you watch enough, you start to learn Japanese.
Forget dubbed shows. Sure, there are some English-language voice actors giving excellent performances now that put the half-hearted, ’90s-era dubs to shame. But immersing yourself in another language is good for your head meats, and how often do you get to do so while hooked on fight scenes that grow exponentially more ridiculous?
So you’ve sunk 20-plus hours in “Cowboy Bebop” (or “Monster Musume,” or whatever, I won’t judge), and now you find yourself giddy with new vocab. Next thing you know, you’re speeding through Duolingo quizzes and learning the proper stroke order to write katakana. Best-case scenario: You gain enough confidence to take a trip to Japan and make amazing, cross-cultural friendships. Worst case: You destroy relationships with your constant, obnoxious exclamations of “Kawai desu,” “Baka!” and “Omae wa mou shindeiru.” Use your newfound powers wisely, my friends.
As a budding teenage weaboo, I longed to take Japanese classes, but my high school offered only French, German and Spanish. I took a couple years each of the latter two along with my younger brother, and our crowning achievement of that time was learning to communicate in a hybrid “Sperman.” Who knows what we could have accomplished if only we had cool Spanish- or German-language TV shows to supplement our studies?
That’s why I wish I could warp back and introduce 2001 Deanna to the show “Dark.” If this series flew under your radar because of the ambiguous, monosyllabic title, you’re not alone. Netflix’s first German-language original show is now a year old, but a second season has recently been approved for production, so it’s not too late to get in on the ground floor. In fact, the concept of “too late” may seem meaningless after you step into the labyrinth of this sci-fi drama. I don’t want to drop any spoilers, but certain space-time shenanigans are involved.
If you’ve been watching Netflix in English, the site will assume you want to see “Dark” the same way. Don’t do it! Now’s your opportunity to play with the subtitle settings and hear German actors speaking their native tongue in a breathy, seductive manner that may sound startling if your exposure to the language has been limited to angry Nazi stereotypes.
TV can be infinitely helpful when it comes to picking up pronunciation, but it’s not going to teach you how to order Oktoberfest beers in Munich. Don’t expect to become a charming conversationalist based on what you learn from “Dark” unless your idea of a good time is whispering cryptic spookiness like, “The beginning is the end, and the end is the beginning.” But watching this twisty thriller may inspire you to dig up an old high school textbook and resurrect dormant neural paths.
Now all I need is something similar in Spanish. If anyone can recommend a TV show along the lines of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” feel free to slide into my DMs.