Saturday, April 11, 2009

old TV dramas and cartoons

In my quest to be the best, I have passed a milestone. That is, the 500-hour mile marker. I now have 530 hours of viewing Chinese TV. I have done the 500 hours in 6 months. I wonder what my ability to understand Chinese will be like after another 500 hours. It's hard to say exactly, but I feel that overall, I am understanding about 25% of the language now. So I miss out on the details of what is being said, but there are so many phrases that are used over and over that I understand, so perhaps it's not surprising to get about 25% comprehension after 500 hours.

Since my last post, I have watched the complete 39 hours of an old TV drama and 19 hours of Doraemon in Mandarin Chinese.

The old TV drama is called The Legend of the Condor Heroes and is based on a novel. This TV series was aired in 1982 and is not the only one that was made from that popular 1957 novel. The drama I watched is actually a Hong Kong drama in Cantonese but I have the Mandarin dubbed version. It says in the Amazon China page as well as is printed on the discs that the product has Chinese subtitles when in fact there were none! I was glad that the subtitles were missing. The only bad thing was that the audio would sound like your speakers were breaking whenever an actor would yell or hit a syllable loudly. But I think it was not my speakers because even adjusting the volume of my speakers did not affect the problem. It was not a big problem though.

The Mandarin dubbed over the the Cantonese speaking actors matches up very well. So well, in fact, that I was able to forget that it is dubbed. And since this was a period drama, there were no English words or phrases used like there was with the modern drama that I watched prior to this one. I've gone through several pages of listings for the HK dramas on Amazon China and apparently they don't sell bilingual Mandarin/Cantonese dramas.

I placed an order yesterday for 1 item and I realized that the shipping is not 80% of the item price. It appears to be a flat 20 RMB per item which is about 294 JPY.

After finishing the 27 year old TV drama, I started watching a Japanese cartoon in Chinese. The cartoon is called Doraemon. This is some kind of 36 year anniversary pack or something. It has 6 discs in all. 3 of the discs each have 2 90-minute Doraemon movies on them was well as old episodes of the cartoon as a bonus.

So far, I have watched the first 5 discs. Not all of the episodes and movies have included the Japanese audio and not all of them can turn off the subtitles. It seems to me, that in the older episodes, Doraemon has the same name as in Japanese. But in other epsisodes, which looked newer, he goes by a different name.

In one of the movies which has both Chinese and Japanese audio, there was a short silent period and then when the sound came back it was out of sync. Then a funny thing happened. The voice of Doraemon changed. I thought it was strange that his voice would change in the middle of a movie. Then I noticed that his new voice was speaking Japanese! I hadn't noticed it right away. And shortly after that it went back to the Chinese audio and everything was back in sync.

Amongst the various episodes and movies of Doraemon, the voice of the characters was not done by the same people. I found that to be really odd. Especially in one of the movies, the Chinese voice for Doraemon does not resemble the high-pitched Japanese voice at all. If Doraemon doesn't have the right voice it just doesn't sound like him.

Most of the cartoon episodes seemed to be about 6.5 minutes. I found this short span to be ideal. You get a lot of different situations which is ideal for language learners. Also, what is happening in those episodes is pretty transparent. I think you don't need to understand the language at all to be entertained by it, which is probably important for toddlers watching them.

I was pretty bored by the Doraemon movies. In a way, they are completely different from the regular Doraemon episodes. You see, in the episodes, Nobita is always trying to take advantage of something that Doraemon has given him. His plans always backfire and get him into trouble which he hadn't considered before getting carried away. But the storyline in the movie is long and drawn out.

I think I will rewatch only the first 2 discs. It will likely be the last couple of days in a month when I don't want to start on a long drama but I want to get a few more hours in. I will just update my spreadsheet but I won't write a post everytime I rewatch Doraemon.

I have one more Doraemon disc to watch which is 8 hours long, but I am going to go onto the next drama first. The next one for me is a Korean drama which I will only be able to watch 78% of because of the problems with the last disc. I put it in my spreadsheet as 19 hours but the real length of the series is longer.


  1. Thanks for the continued updates. Your numbers are pretty inspirational, since i've only clocked 22 hours of german listening so far (some with star trek eps, some with audiobooks). It's a struggle, but i'm trying to reserve judgement of my progress until i'm up in the hundreds of hours like you. It's hard to trust my brain just to absorb things, when i'm used to the short-term results of chapter-by-chapter vocab from the classes i took.

  2. @languagefixation
    Personally I love audiobooks, but so far I understand the TV method is all about seeing picures and linking them to the spoken language. With audiobooks you're pretty much clueless when starting out, so do you it's a wise thing to do as a beginner (I'm assuming you're a beginner, correct me if I'm wrong).


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