Almost twenty years after its first season, Ainori, the road trip reality show where people search for love while exploring other countries is back! And in April the revitalized series, now called Ainori: Love Wagon: Asian Journey, was finally released for US Netflix audiences.
Similar to other popular Japanese reality shows being picked up by Netflix in the last few years, Ainori is about a group of young people who interact on camera, and then a panel of commentators discussing the show as they watch. The hope is that drama, I mean, love occurs and everyone can say they were there when it happened.
The conversations are real, not staged, and they revolve around travel and romance: two things you, as a Japanese learner, may be interested in. If those two things don’t appeal to you, I’d skip this show. And, admittedly, it’s a bit rougher around the edges than shows like Terrace House, so it may be hard to transition from there. But even with a lower production value, and slightly trashier content, it still offers a lot of the same Japanese-study benefits:
- Non-scripted dialogue helps you see and hear how Japanese is spoken in everyday life, especially if your only exposure to the language is in class or through scripted pop culture like music and anime.
- Built-in Japanese subtitles, similar to those you’d see on Japanese variety shows and daytime television, are present throughout each episode. This can help you get used to listening to Japanese as you read or reading Japanese as you listen (depending on what you've studied most until now).
- Japanese and English language subtitles can facilitate beyond the hard subs, letting you see English on screen alongside Japanese only when you feel like you need it.