Japanese Quest

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about any Japanese learning resources that I have found, but this one was so cool that I couldn’t pass it up.

Japanese Quest is a Twitch/YouTube channel that teaches Japanese through video games! It’s run by an actual Japanese Language teacher, and runs on a pretty solid schedule, so there is TONS of quality content getting pumped out. Now, this isn’t really a “Japanese from zero” course that will teach you all of the grammar and stuff that you need. But it’s really more of just playing through games, doing live translation, and mining the games for interesting words to learn. There is a spreadsheet and Anki deck of the words that are mined.

I think this is mainly ideal for someone that has been studying Japanese for a little while already and learned the basics. If you don’t really know how to mine words and phrases from native material, this will teach you how. If you have tried to mine words from native material but given up because it was too difficult, this might show you that it’s actually not as difficult as you thought. And if you just don’t really mine words from native material because you are too lazy, well then it doesn’t get any easier than this! It’s so easy to just sit back and watch, and then import the words into Anki later on.

So far he has covered several games including Xenoblade 2, Super Mario Oddyssey, Breath of the Wild, and others. Here is a map which I assume shows most of the games that he is planning to cover at some point (though it is subject to change, as he has already done several that don’t appear on here):

I really recommend checking it out, and spend at least 30 minutes or so with it to see if it could be helpful to you!

Japanese Quest – Twitch

Japanese Quest – YouTube

 

Download Japanese subtitles as TEXT from Netflix using a Kodi plugin

Note: while this article is written from the perspective of obtaining Japanese subtitles, it should work just as well for subtitles in other languages.

My journey of obtaining Japanese subtitles from Netflix has been a long one, but I’ve finally arrived at the holy grail: downloading the Japanese subs as TEXT. We had previously discovered that you could download Japanese subtitles as images using a script in your web browser. You could then perform OCR to turn those subtitles into text. While this worked alright, the subtitles weren’t perfect, and would contain some amount of errors that would need to be manually corrected.

This new method is a little more difficult to get set up, but lets you get the subtitles perfectly without any errors. However, there is still one caveat with this method: available subtitles are mostly based on your location. So, this means that MOST Japanese subtitles are only available for people who are physically located in Japan, or who are using one of the few working Japanese VPNs. So the other method of downloading the image-based subtitles might work better for some people, depending on your situation.

I just want the subs!

I have already downloaded Japanese subtitles from over 100 shows and movies, including just about all of the native Japanese Netflix originals, and you can grab them all here.

I want to do it myself!

Shout out to Matt VS Japan for making this easy to follow video tutorial!

And here are the instructions in text form:

First, you need to download and install Kodi 18. At this time, version 18 is only available as development builds. You can download the windows 64-bit version here. You can find links to downloads for other platforms through the Kodi download page, just make sure to select the development builds to access version 18, because version 17 will not work!

Next, you will need my NetflixSubs plugin for Kodi (updated 4/8/2018).

Install Kodi 18 using the Full installation option, then Run Kodi.

Go to: Settings > Add ons > My add ons > All > Inputstream Adaptive > Enable

Go to: Settings > Add ons > Install from zip file

You will get a popup window saying that installing from unknown sources is disabled. Click the “settings” button.

Enable “unknown sources” and then click “yes”.

Return to “install from zip file” and select the modified NetflixSubs plugin to install it.

If you use Netflix in a language other than English, go to settings > interface > Skin > fonts > Arial based.

Return to the Kodi main screen, and select Add-ons > NetflixSubs.

Enter your Netflix login details. If you get a login error, please try closing Kodi and then open it and the NetflixSubs plugin again.  (Caution! It is never safe to enter login information into untrusted software. At the very least, you should not reuse your Netflix password on other sites!)

You should be able to browse through Netflix. (for ease of use, I recommend adding any shows you want subtitles for to your “My List” prior to starting Kodi)

Select an episode or movie to play. You will get a popup saying Playback Failed, but it should save the subtitle files. By default, I believe it will try to save inside the Kodi installation folder. You can change the location to save files from within the plugin’s settings, which can be accessed by right-clicking on the plugin from the Kodi home screen.

NetflixSubs Changelog

Download latest version

4/8/18

  • Moved all settings into the plugin’s settings menu, including allowing you to select which folder to save the subtitles to
  • Changed the plugin name so it can co-exist with the normal Netflix plugin

3/31/18

  • When mutiple subtitles exist for the same language, the plugin will now download all of them but just keep the largest one. The extra files were generally just a subset of the largest one.

PNG2SRT (tool to OCR image subtitles)

Download on Github

This is a tool that can perform OCR (optical character recognition) on XML/PNG subtitles and output the result as an SRT file. This can be used for subtitles obtained from DVD, Blu-ray, and Netflix. The Google Cloud Vision API is used for the OCR, and it has very good accuracy. This program is based on a python script originally posted by zx573 on the kanji koohii forums.

Before using this program, you may need to get your subtitles into the XML/PNG format. I have previously written a guide on extracting Netflix subtitles here.

For DVD or Blu-ray, I’m not going to write a detailed guide on ripping subtitles from the disc, as there are plenty of other guides out there on the internet. It is assumed that you can figure out how to obtain your subtitles as SUB/IDX or SUP format. From there, I recommend using a Windows program called Subtitle Edit to convert them into XML/PNG format. There may be other software that can do this, but Subtitle Edit is the one I am most familiar with.

Using Subtitle Edit to convert DVD or Blu-ray subs to XML/PNG

The File menu in Subtitle Edit has several options to import your Subtitles that are in SUB/IDX or SUP format. Just choose the appropriate one, and then you will come to an import screen. From here, you just need to right-click on one of the subtitle lines, then select Export > BDN xml/png.

Then on the next screen then comes up, you just want to select “export all lines”, and select a folder to save to.

Now you should have a folder containing a bunch of PNG images and an XML file. The next step is to create an API key on the Google Cloud Platform.

Create an API Key for Google Cloud Vision API

Google’s OCR is by far the most accurate I have seen, and works quite well. It is also free for a limited amount of use each month. According to their current pricing structure, you can OCR up to 1,000 items per month for free. My program can batch several PNG images into a single item, so you should be able to do several episodes or movies in a single month without having to pay anything. Google also offers a great trial offer (at least at the time I write this). You can get $300 of free credit when you sign up, and you have no obligation pay anything or continue using the service.

If you sign up for the Google Cloud Platform, then after logging in, you need to enable the Cloud Vision API and generate an API key.

  1. In the left hand menu, select APIs & Services > Dashboard
  2. Select Enable APIs & Services
  3. In the search box, type “vision”, and then select Google Cloud Vision API.
  4. Select Enable. It may walk you through setting up a billing profile at this point if one has not been created already. Again, there is no obligation to actually pay anything, as you can use this API a certain amount for free each month, and you may get free credits when signing up.
  5. Back at the APIs & Services Dashboard, select Credentials > Create Credentials > API Key.
  6. Once you have generated the API key, be sure to copy it or keep it open in your browser so you can access it later.

Use PNG2SRT to OCR the images

Now, we can use PNG2SRT to send the subtitle images through the Cloud Vision API.

Download

Version 1.0.1 – May 12, 2018

Download on Github

Download the appropriate version for your computer, and then extract the archive.

Next, you need to paste your API Key into a text file named API_KEY.txt located in the same folder as the application (the file should contain ONLY your API key, and no other text).

When you run the application, it should look like this:

First, you need to make sure that your API Key is displayed correctly in the top area. If not, make sure you did the previous step correctly.

Then, you just select a folder containing XML/PNG files, which is what will be converted to SRT.

Note: You may get an error if the folder name contains unicode characters. In that case, please rename the folder to use English characters.

There is also an option to select the language that you want Google to recognize. It defaults to Japanese, because that is what I use, but you can select whichever language you need. You can find a full list of language codes here.

The only other option is the chunk size. The default of 15 is usually fine. If you press the start button, and the program appears to begin working but then gives you an error message part way through, you might need to decrease the chunk size to a smaller value like 10 or even 5. I had previously stated that higher values here will use less of your credit/money on Google; this was false, I apoligize for the confusion.

After you press start, if all goes well, the program should run and it will output an SRT file inside your input folder.