The Dangers Of Netflix Japan

I just got through saying how amazing Netflix Japan is, all the excellent material that is awaiting you, and why you need to get started with it immediately. Now that I have been using it for a month, I found something incredibly dangerous which made me cancel my membership.

The Dangers Of Netflix Japan 2

The power behind Netflix and watching American TV and movies dubbed into Japanese is that you introduce both material that you are familiar with and very addicting TV shows that you would want to watch anyway. Being addicted to a Japanese TV show is a beautiful thing. It means you are addicted to studying, which as you can imagine provides incredible rewards.

Until that addiction turns you away from Japanese studying.

I am pretty disciplined. While originally my English TV viewing was at absolutely 0 for a number of the early years, I later on occasionally introduced a show that I just had to watch. I pretty much had completely avoided the “binge watch” craze that was brought on by streaming video, and any binge watching was always Japanese TV making it a positive.

The last thing I expected was Netflix Japan to turn me on to English TV binge watching. For the first time in a decade I binge watched multiple American TV shows in English. Why?

Well it started off innocently by watching some Japanese dubbed versions of new American TV shows I had wanted to see. I’d finish a season fully addicted, and then what does it show?

No more seasons… in Japanese.

But there are 1 or 2 more seasons in English, as the Japanese dub is usually 1-2 years behind the broadcasting schedule of the original show. Modern TV is engaging to say the least, and when you reach the season finale of a show you fall in love with, and find there are no more Japanese episodes, the temptation to continue, even if in English, is compelling.

And that’s what I did. Before I knew it, I had just introduced a major new time drain on my life.

The Dangers Of Netflix Japan

Now there is nothing wrong with watching English programs, or binge watching in general. But when you are very busy, and when you want your Japanese to get better, it’s an obstacle that must be dealt with appropriately. To me, any value that Netflix Japan had provided had been completely been taken away by this new enemy.

Two solutions

Not all is lost. The two ways to counteract this is to stick with

  1. Movies, or
  2. TV shows that have already ended and have all seasons dubbed

If you follow this, you should be okay. However, you leave yourself with the temptation of thinking “well I’ll just watch season 1 in Japanese, and then wait till the later seasons come out in Japanese.” I failed that temptation test which was quite surprising to me.

Fair warning

I’m not sure if anyone else has dealt with this yet (maybe I’m just not disciplined enough after all), but I thought that I’d share my experience as it completely caught me off guard.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


The Dangers Of Netflix Japan — 20 Comments

  1. 少なくとも日本語字幕があるだろうか。(本当は分かんないけどw

  2. Video gaming. Another evil, addictive time sink. I’ve had to cut down my gaming considerably, as the ratio of gaming to studying was completely out of whack. I used to study as if it was my only reason for living and nothing else mattered. Then I made the mistake and bought a PS4. I had to tame the gaming beast and make sure the study sessions come first.

  3. Mm i haven’t experienced this personally. But definitely something to keep in mind. So far it’s had a huge effect on my amount of raw listening immersion. Thanks for the warning!

  4. Surely by now Adam you would be at a Japanese level where no amount of English binging would be detrimental to your Japanese ability?

    Once one is fluent in a language is it possible to forget it? What about ones mother language? If I move to Japan forever and speak nothing but Japanese, would I forget how to speak English?

    • I can answer this!

      – Fluency in a language does not guarantee performance. If I stray away from English (I am non-native)for too long, I start making some silly mistakes. The words that come out of my mouth start sounding a bit “off”.

      -You can NEVER truly forget grammar and listening skills of your mother tongue, but you can forget vocabulary. The grasp over it weakens over time. Sometimes when I try talking to folks back home, I have to think “What did that word mean?, What did he say?”. Conversationally, I can speak like a native (as expected of me), but don’t expect me to discuss political, scientific or marketing terms.

    • It is possible to forget your mother tongue. It’s very rare, but it does happen.
      I’ve met people who have lived overseas for decades, and their English suffers. They find themselves grasping for a word and even using their second language to try to make themselves understood.

    • As someone who is French but raised in the United States and speaks both English and French fluently, yes, you do lose words and phrasing if you don’t constantly maintain your languages no matter whether you are native or not. And even being native in French, I do not use a lot of the phrasing the live-in-France-French people use so already it makes me look less French. The positive side though is that, being native, it comes back quickly when you do make efforts to maintain it.

    • As everyone has already answered on the fluency/native issue, you won’t ever “forget it.” It’ll just very slowly degrade over time with lack of usage. The longer you go without using it, the more it’ll suffer.

      The only extreme cases I’ve heard of people coming close to “forgetting” their native language are those who moved at a young age to a foreign country and then never spoke their native language again for 50+ years. But who knows what their circumstances were.

      As for me? It’s true that English binging wouldn’t be directly detrimental to my Japanese. However, I’m not stopping at my current Japanese level and am continually working on improving. So I don’t want to waste large chunks of my time on something with little value to me personally. Also since I haven’t lived in Japan for years, it becomes easier to slip into that English TV mindset which I don’t want to do.

  5. To help me not browse away in 英語ランド, I actually pre-set a handful of movies and shows in, so I just click a bookmark and get randomly taken to a movie/show. It also saves me a bit of decision fatigue (wasting mental energy trying to decide what to watch). [note: this also lets you consolidate your Netflix, Crunchyroll, and whatever other online queues you might enjoy.] If I’m really into a show, I just make a bookmark with it, so I have no reason to browse elsewhere.

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