And my teachers said watching anime would never pay off!

As a Japanese tutor, my students often ask about the JLPT — the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. It’s a standardized test held twice a year around the world, compromising five different levels (N5 being the easiest, N1 being the hardest). You pick your level, take the test, and pass or fail depending on your score.

In a nutshell, I’m not a fan of the test. It has the same problem that most standardized tests have, where passing isn’t so much a function of how much Japanese you know, but rather how much you’ve studied specific materials to pass it.

If you’re from the U.S., then it’s similar to the high school SAT tests. Is the math SAT is a good measure of your math skill? Kind of, but it’s more a good measure of how much you’ve prepared to specifically take the math SAT exam.

I’ve taken the JLPT myself, and there was a quirk during my test that was recently brought to the attention of the Japanese Internet thanks to Twitter user @SomniChina. Here’s what is was:

“Audio from the legendary listening comprehension question
from the JLPT level 1. Actual audio (images are added).”

Even if you didn’t understand a word of the Japanese, if you’ve watched the anime Evangelion, then you probably recognized it right away. While not taken directly from the anime, the dialogue is heavily inspired by the show. The characters are the same (“Commander” Ikari and “Asuka”), and the voice actors are pretty close too. The fact that it’s sandwiched between a robotic woman explaining that this is question fifteen and then giving answers to choose from at the end just makes it all the more surreal.

For those curious, the dialogue is basically someone telling the commander that a giant monster has infiltrated their systems, and the only weapon left to fight it is their own untested mech Unit 04. The commander says he’ll pilot the unit, but is then cut off by the girl Asuka who says she will pilot it instead, and runs off.

The question at the end asks who is doing what: (1) The commander is going in Unit 00, (2) The commander is going in Unit 04, (3) The girl is going in Unit 00, (4) The girl is going in Unit 04. So yeah, just your everyday Japanese being tested here.

▼ Some netizens were reasonably skeptical that this was real, but @SomniaChina
gave the date it was used (December 6, 2009), as did others who remembered it.

And as luck would have it, December 6, 2009 is when I took the JLPT level 1 (now level N1), and I vividly remember this exact listening question. The entire room, which had been silent the whole time, burst out laughing. Even the proctor had a hard time restraining herself. It was quite a bizarre twist, to say the least.

Here’s some more Japanese reactions from online:

“I was a proctor for that exam. My stomach hurt from not laughing lol.”
“My friend said the JLPT is hard for even Japanese people, now I see why.”
“Oh this brings back memories. This was the last JLPT before they changed the level system.”
“They called the ‘angels’ a ‘giant monster’ lol.”
“Haha, Shinji didn’t even make it into the dialogue. What a loser.”
“They went all the way with that: multiple characters, alarm sounds, everything!”
“A freebie question for the the otaku taking the test.”

In the end, if you’re planning on taking the JLPT, don’t expect any anime-based listening questions. This was likely just a fun thing they did to send off the old level system and is certainly not representative of what the test is like.

And if you’re on the fence about taking the JLPT, really think about what your Japanese language goals are, and how the JLPT will help you achieve them. For some, being able to put JLPT N1 or N2 on their resume will help, but for most, having a goal that’s more useful (such as “reading a manga cover to cover” or “mastering all the ways to say ‘oh my God!'”) would be a lot more beneficial.

Source: Twitter/@SomniChina via My Game News Flash
Top image: PAKUTASO