The seemingly never ending challenge to make immersion actually work for you can seem daunting. Everything is too hard. You can’t find anything you will enjoy, regardless of your level. You are filled with frustration, and the often easiest solution is to decide that this just doesn’t work. So you give in and use subtitles. After all, so many other people do that. Maybe that’s what you were meant to do. Why follow this painful path to uncertain resolution?
I will not say “it’s easy.”
I will not say “just hang in there!”
I will not say “you’ll figure it out in no time!”
However, I will say
All it takes is one series to completely revolutionize your studying and empower you beyond your wildest imagination.
You may have gone through a dozen series at your level, with less success in each new attempt. You can’t understand. You can’t enjoy. You can’t understand. You can’t enjoy. You can’t understand. You can’t enjoy.
A dozen more series later, the same thing.
You’ve been through the recommendations here and elsewhere. You’ve tried the easy level stuff you are supposed to understand. You tried the easy level stuff people of similar levels say they understand (but you don’t). You’ve tried what you enjoyed before you started studying Japanese but don’t now. You’ve tried everything. After 25 attempts you decide that you need subtitles. You need something else. Immersion doesn’t work or at least it doesn’t work for you.
And then on attempt 26, your mouth drops.
You find a series, despite your level, that you enjoy immensely. You can watch with minimal understanding and watch your pleasure grow as that minimal understanding slowly increases. It’s a eureka moment. And once you finish that series, and enter it into passive studying you discover an even better sensation. Your next enjoyable series search doesn’t take 25 attempts to find. It takes 20. And the search after that takes 15. And then 10. And then 5. Each engaging experience with an enjoyable series expands your ability to find other new enjoyable series.
It makes you unstoppable.
But maybe you gave up at attempt 25. You went to subtitles. You were right at the immersion gates, but you didn’t give yourself the chance to open them. You didn’t even realize you had the key to unlock them.
It just takes one.
You may find it on the first attempt. Or the 26th. Or the 50th. Every failed attempt gets you closer to it. It doesn’t matter how long it takes anyone else to do it, or what was their gate opener. Your gate is in a unique location and has a unique key.
Find it. Open it. Never look back.