Once you Can Binge Watch Japanese you Win
I’ve talked repeatedly how the path to fluency hinges on a race to immersion – getting to enjoying real Japanese before you burn out on too much studying. However, just because you reach immersion doesn’t mean it’s all clear sailing from there. Far from it as you’ll feel a constant tug-of-war with understanding and not understanding whatever you are trying to enjoy.
Recently, I’ve seen that it’s not just a race to immersion, but a race to something which will signal an even higher change of victory. A race to binge-watching.
The modern trend of binge-watching TV is probably not the best thing for your health, but feels so good. When it comes to Japanese, I said that binge-watching has the best of both worlds, feeling good and being good for you. However, in addition to just being a lot of Japanese practice, it signifies a turning point.
If you can binge-watch something in Japanese, you will become fluent
When you think about binge-watching as a phenomenon, it’s pretty amazing. Watching multiple seasons (a dozen+ hours) of a TV show in one weekend. All this time spent on one focused activity, with concentration maintained without effort.
How many people would love to be able to say the exact same thing for Japanese? If you can binge on Japanese-TV, you can. All that time spent watching Japanese TV rakes in your Japanese ability experience points. The more you binge-watch Japanese, the better your Japanese gets, making it even easier to binge watch more Japanese.
Once you get into a natural addicting cycle of Japanese like this, fluency will be within your grasp. You almost can’t help but get there. The people I see that get addicted to Japanese TV shows early on, who can then do it for dozens or hundreds of episodes, make it.
But I don’t understand enough to binge enjoyably?
Your Japanese doesn’t need to be perfect to binge. It starts with finding the right show for your level. You may be able to binge at 80%, 70%, or even 60% understanding. If you are at a loss for where to start as a binging beginner, two popular easy to binge romance-variety-shows are Terrace House and Ainori.
If this doesn’t work for you, go for anime, j-dramas or other continuous story variety shows. All you need to find is one bingeable show. After finishing it, you’ll find that it is easier to find the next, and the next, and so on.
But I don’t like binge watching TV…?
You don’t have to binge-watch TV. There’s binge-reading. Whether that’s manga or novels, the same “I MUST keep reading” is present whether that’s Overlord or 宇宙兄弟.
When did you first binge something in Japanese?
Do you remember your first true binge-watching or binge-reading Japanese experience, where you couldn’t tear yourself away from it for hours on end? What was it?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
My first binge watch was a pretty lame series; Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s lol. Cannot say that I recommend it to anyone, but it was the first show I could watch and pretty much understand everything so it was a great feeling to keep watching.
The latest thing I binge watched over the summer was 斉木楠雄の災難 (The Disastrous Life of Saiki Kusuo). Hands down the funniest show I have ever watched. And it’s on Netflix too if anyone is interested.
It took you long enough to get to 斉木楠雄の災難! You should have started 4 years ago (https://japaneselevelup.com/5-manga-wont-able-stop-laughing/) :P
How far along were you in your studies when Yu-Gi-Oh made sense? Just curious.
It was a long time ago that I watched it so it’s hard to say exactly but I think I was around level 40 on the Jalup scale.
But I loved Yu Gi Oh 5’Ds Jonathon!!! I first saw it in spanish and tryed to find it in Jap but could not. Ended up watching Boku No Hero Academia but stopped midway.
It is on crunchyroll if you’re still searching for it.
yes is in crunchyroll
The ultimate easy binge show!
In regards to gaining fluency, what is the latest recommendation on watching Japanese shows without Japanese subtitles or with them? If I use them right now at my level I can understand about 60%+ of many shows. If I don’t use them it’s more like 10-20%. I really want to improve my listening when I am immersing, but if I understand so little (without subtitles) I worry I’m not learning as much than if I used them. But if I use them I worry I’m not listening as well. Thoughts?
I have been watching some terrace House with them and I follow it more or less. I have been watching food wars anime without them and follow it mostly because it’s simple and I read a synopsis first. Both I enjoy about equally meaning I can watch an episode or two at a time.
I think binging with Japanese subtitles is completely fine, if you can’t binge otherwise.
If you haven’t already seen this article, check out: https://japaneselevelup.com/okay-to-use-japanese-subtitles/
I can’t remember the first show I binged because when I started out, there’s a limit in how much I could watch (slow internet and daily shows).
What’s your opinion on listening to Japanese songs? Do they help in improving your listening or understanding skills? My playlists had always been 80% Japanese songs.
Japanese music is great for motivation (and is just plain fun to listen to).
Any Japanese helps improve your listening skills, but music is probably on the lower end of the scale in terms of efficiency. It’s just that 1) lyrics are hard to hear, 2) it’s easy to ignore the lyrics and focus on the music 3) there’s just not that much language in the span of a song.
So if you want it to count as “studying,” I’d use it in moderation. If you are just listening to it to pump you up and motivate yourself, then go wild.
See the following 2 posts for reference:
Only problem I’ve found is that most of the Japanese shows (at least on your drama list) are very short with only 10-12 episodes. A lot of times I find a show I really enjoy but then it’s over compared to a lot of American tv that has 100 episodes.
That is true, that multi season shows are much less common. Some good ones I can think of are Gokusen and Trick, if these types of shows interest you.
I, on the other hand, absolutely love the Japanese shows having only ~10 episodes. The short running time (with usually a single season) means that the writers typically can’t leave blatant loose ends and also can experiment (less of a loss if it does not work compared to US-like series). It is also much more friendly to the viewer’s time.
I believe that shows akin to the excellent character exploration in カルテット we were treated to last year would not be greenlighted in the US. And we still get the occasional second season, such as the upcoming 下町ロケット2.
There are two sides to the “number of episodes” debate. :) Maybe there is also a hidden esoteric connection with the quality of fleetingness being appreciated in Japan on a whole different level compared to the west (i.e., cherry blossoms)?
I don’t watch TV, so I think it was the manga イムリ (currently at 23 vols.)
It is not for the faint-hearted, but once you get through the first volume or so you will not want to put this down. Genre is political/psychological thriller + sci-fi + a bunch of mind-control and other magical abilities.
Probably someone at an intermediate/upper-intermediate level could read this, but do be warned the violence is intense and often disturbing.
Thanks for adding in the recommendation!