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!

Here is how it’s done. (sorry for the rambling instructions, I’ll try to make it easier to follow sometime)

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 coexist 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.

37 thoughts to “Download Japanese subtitles as TEXT from Netflix using a Kodi plugin”

  1. Great news!!!
    The whole process it’s not too cumbersome for me using the original tool, except when using a VPN to watch Japanese Netflix (it can take ages depending of how many episodes there are). So I would be eagerly waiting for the VPN workaround 🙂
    Thanks!

    1. Just to let you know, it is working with VPNs. Turns out the one I was originally testing it on didn’t actually work with Netflix. Once I found one that actually works, there were no problems.

  2. This is amazing!
    I gave up on the OCR method and was thinking there no hopes of extracting netflix subs anymore. Then bam! This page popped up, I was blind not seeing this page first LOL This method is so fast to get subs on netflix~
    Thank you so much for your hard work ^^

    1. Hmmm, this is interesting. I’m not really sure why the arabic subtitles aren’t coming up now. I didn’t really change anything from the original AhmedBakfir code that should cause them to NOT show up. In fact I even tried reverting to that original code now, and I still don’t see them, even if I set my netflix to arabic.

      1. I already downloaded arabic subs with your script , but there is a a wierd thing
        the download only work in first time after installing kodi+script, closing kodi and opening it
        it won’t start downloading

        1. Looking at your log, it appears that it is failing before it even gets to any of my modified code, so I think it might be an issue in the netflix plugin itself. It’s really strange that it works at first, but then wont work any more when you restart kodi.

          After you exit kodi, have you checked the task manager to make sure that the kodi process is completely stopped? What happens if you reboot your pc and then try again?

          1. I installed the latest build of kodi 18 ,It works very well and twaeking the setting works also
            thank you

  3. When I tried this on March 22, it worked perfectly. However, when I tried to do it today, I could not download any of the subtitles. Nothing was appearing in the Subtitles folder anymore. Has this happened to anyone else? I tried over 15 different series and nothing.

    1. It’s still working for me. Is the file “Subtitle_urls.txt” in your Kodi folder getting updated when you try to download anything? Did you try to modify the file MSL.py to change any settings?
      You may need to try completely uninstalling Kodi (or maybe just the netflix plugin) and set it back up again.

      Are you trying to get a specific language, and what are a couple of the show titles you were trying?

      1. I actually reinstalled kodi after doing a permanent uninstall (kodi 18) and re-followed the instructions to install the netflix plugin. It still didn’t work lol. One thing I noticed was that the “Subtitle_urls.txt” is no longer there after the reinstall.
        I did not modify the MSL.py file.
        For the language I’m do Japanese (set skin font to Arial based because my Netflix language is in Japanese). Some titles I’ve been trying to download are: Attack on Titan, Ghost in the Shell, B: The Beginning, Erased (live action).
        I’m also using a VPN to get Japanese Netflix, though I don’t think that’s the problem as I had no issues a week ago.

        1. One other thing you can test out. Browse to your userdata folder:
          https://kodi.wiki/view/Userdata

          From there, go into the addon_data folder, then the service.msl folder, and locate a file called manifest.json.

          This file gets replaced each time you try to load a video in the netflix plugin. Open it up in a text editor to view the contents.

          Whenever I try using an unsupported proxy server, this file will end up containing an error message saying that I can’t access netflix through that proxy. But when things are working normally, I find a really long line of text containing some key words such as “viewables”, “videoenctrypted”, “texttracks”, “downloadables”, and so on, as well as some really long URLs.

          Perhaps this can give some insight into whats going on.

          1. I took a look but there weren’t any errors in that file. It was like you said with the long line of text. Thanks for helping me troubleshoot, hopefully I can figure it out sometime.

    1. Fixed my own problem. The bug—which may be Mac-specific if this didn’t happen for you on Windows; I’m on macOS Sierra—is in MSL.py, on Lines 50 and 52. (/Users/$USER/Library/Application Support/Kodi/addons/plugin.video.netflix/MSL.py).

      With `os.makedirs(‘Subtitles’)`, Kodi was trying to create a “Subtitles” directory where it didn’t have permission to do so. So that, and the corresponding `os.path.isdir(‘Subtitles’)` had to be changed to a different location. In my case I changed them to point to `’/Users/$USER/Downloads/Subtitles’` (replace $USER with your username). Saved, restarted Kodi, the error went away and I was finally able to log in.

      1. Thanks for your feedback, its a big help!
        I’ll see if I can’t learn how to implement the file handling in a more cross-platform manner.

      2. I’ve released a new version of the plugin that lets you properly select where you want to save the files from within the plugin settings menu. This should make it work across all systems. Thanks for letting me know about this issue!

  4. Can we carry the Arabic translation by adding a Netflix to the Cody program?

    If the answer is no.

    Can you modify the addition to download the Arabic language translation

    1. I’m having some difficulty to understand your question. You are asking about a translation for the interface of this plugin? Or about how to download arabic subtitles? Or how to play back video with arabic subtitles?

        1. Netflix decides what subtitles you can download based on your location.
          If you are inside a country that uses Arabic, then you should be able to download the Arabic subtitles. But if you live in a country where the primary writing is not Arabic, then the arabic subtitles will not be available.
          If you can’t see arabic subtitles, you might be able to use a VPN from an arabic location, and the subtitles will become available.

  5. One thing I care about more. I don’t know if it’s a kodi client’s problem. Long-term works only show up to 42 episodes.

        1. Thanks, I checked into it and it looks like this is a known problem in the Netflix plugin for Kodi. Once the bug is fixed by them, I will release a fixed version of my plugin. It has been posted on their issue tracker since february, so I don’t know when it will be fixed.

  6. I’m getting an error with the dependency script.module.pyrcryptodrome version.

    I cant get a capture of the full version but i tried ti pip install pycryptodrome and it still didnt work. Any suggestions?

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