Having subtitle scripts from TV shows that you are watching is an excellent study aid. Not to mention that they can be used with Subs2SRS to easily import sentences into Anki! These days, many people tend to watch Netflix more than a lot of the traditional media. I’ve also seen numerous people talking about how the Netflix Original “Terrace House” is great for Japanese listening practice, because it is unscripted and captures natural dialog.
When I originally wrote this post, it was because I had discovered a way of ripping Japanese subtitles from Netflix, which to my knowledge, no one else had figured out how to do at the time. My method was long and clunky though. But thanks to the help of several users, we have eventually arrived at newer methods that are MUCH easier and better. So now, it is really quite simple to rip subtitles from Netflix, to the point that just about anyone can do it.
Download Subtitles I’ve Already Ripped
I have already downloaded subtitles from over 30 Japanese shows and movies that are available on US Netflix, and you can grab them all here.
How to rip Japanese Subtitles from Netflix
Getting the subtitles from Netflix is quite simple now, due to a tool that does all the hard work for us!
First, you will need to download an addon for your web browser which allows you to run userscripts. One such addon is called ViolentMonkey, and it works with either Firefox or Chrome (as well as some other browsers). There are several other similar addons as well, such as TamperMonkey and GreaseMonkey. These all mostly do the same thing, so just pick one. A simple Google search for any of those titles should easily lead you to a page that lets you install it in your web browser.
Next, you want to install the Netflix Subtitle Downloader. After installing it, you will notice some new options appear inside the subtitle selection menu on the Netflix website. Simply select the subtitle language that you want, and then click on one of the download buttons. It’s that simple! You might need to give it a moment after clicking the button while it begins downloading.
Note: On my system, I have run into some issues where the subtitle downloader will sometimes try to download the subtitle for the previous video that I was looking at. If you run into this issue, this can be resolved by hitting the “refresh” button in your browser after loading a video.
For many languages, especially ones with simple character sets like English and Spanish, the subtitles are downloaded as SRT files. However, for languages with more complex character sets like Japanese, Chinese, or Korean, the subtitles are stored as images. So in order to convert these into a text format, you need to perform OCR (optical character recognition).
To assist in performing this OCR, I have created a tool called PNG2SRT which makes it simple. You can see how to use PNG2SRT here.
New Method (download as text)
There is now a new method of downloading the subtitles directly as text rather than as images. However, the new method doesn’t work on every show. The method listed above will work on any show that has Japanese subtitles, so it is still useful in many cases. You can read about the new method of obtaining subtitles here.