When you Can’t Find Anything you want to Watch or Read
There are several lifetimes of native Japanese material out there for you to enjoy, regardless of what level you are. Taking into account your Japanese level, your interests, your age, your background, your likes/dislikes, you should be able to find a never-ending supply to keep you occupied. So you do what everyone does when you need material. You start searching, you listen to recommendations, and then you start sampling a few minutes or a few pages of everything that catches your eye.
But you can’t find anything that you like. The 5-minute rule (of giving up new material 5 minutes after trying it out) has turned up all negatives. You don’t like anything. You’re stuck.
I’ve been there more than once. It took me a while to figure out what went wrong. I would be in a situation where no variety show would interest me, or every anime I tried was dull and uninspiring, and every sample I tried of a new book had me quickly trying yet another new one. The more I searched, the more frustrated I got.
“Why can’t I just find some material that I can enjoy for the next several hours or days or weeks,” I thought to myself. I just need something. Anything. Nothing sounds good. Am I done enjoying Japanese material? Do I not like it anymore?
Then a day (or several) days later, everything was back to normal. I was finding new material again no problem, and enjoying it. I was immediately able to absorb myself and have fun again. It’s like whatever was blocking me before had completely disappeared. After experiencing this multiple times it made me come to a simple conclusion:
Sometimes right now is a bad time to search for something new.
It could be stress. It could be fatigue. It could be you need a break. But at this moment, no matter what you search for won’t be appealing. Even your favorite shows or long running series you’ve been following may seem lacking any excitement. The more you try to find something new you want to engage in right now, the less enjoyable everything becomes.
If you keep searching while in this mode, you slowly start eliminating everything you might have liked if you had searched at a regular time. For example, you go through an entire sampling of the new season of J-drama while tired, and find absolutely nothing. You may have convinced yourself in this bad moment that there is no J-drama you want to watch this season.
A few days later, even when you have the energy, and you may have found stuff you would enjoy, you’ve unconsciously told yourself that you’ve already tried those series. You don’t like them, so there is no point in spending an extra second of thought on them.
It’s simple. If you find yourself being interested in no new material no matter how hard you try, including stuff you normally find yourself enjoying, temporarily stop your search. Take a break, and do something else. Or go to sleep (as this phenomenon often happens at night). Or come back later when you are in a better mindset.
If it’s too late, and you’ve already eliminated a lot of possible material you might have actually enjoyed, then give them another sampling when you are in a more optimal situation, because you may actually like them.
This in no way means that every time you find something you don’t like, it means you need to try again later. But if you find no matter what you read or watch now just isn’t generating even a spark of interest, continue that search later.
Have you ever been stuck in a “nothing interests me” moment? How long did it last? Did it eventually go away?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
This happens to me on a fairly regular basis. I have ADHD so sometimes my brain just isn’t in the right mindset to enjoy a new show (or any show) and everything is frustrating and not fun. Honestly, the best thing to do then is for me to either admit I’m too tired to concentrate and go to sleep, or get up and go for a run or something active. I also just generally find it difficult to find shows I really like; perhaps because I get frustrated at not understanding what’s going on. Jdramas are better than anime for this I find – probably because there’s more acting and scene cues to pay attention to – but they’re also harder to find streaming (crunchyroll has a very small set of them).
Yeah, it’s best to choose a time when you are more likely to be open to new shows, and focus your searching then.
And I agree that it is easier to find J-dramas that you’ll understand over anime (anime for the most part is inherently harder)
It’s worth highlighting that I think, because I think I assumed that since so many anime are produced for older kids/younger teens, they’d be easier to understand than dramas which are usually for/about adults.
Not so, apparently (unless you end up in a legal drama or something).
Viki is the only other site I know of that has legal Jdramas. Not a huge set, and there’s some overlap with Crunchyroll, but it is another option.
Thanks for this comment – the search for something legal is quite difficult.
I do the same except go on a walk! It happens fairly often that literally nothing appeals to me, whether japanese related or not, and whenever I feel like that I go for a walk and after 30 minutes – 2 hours I usually find something that I want to do!
Try Amazon Prime Japan with a VPN, tons of drama. I love Viki, Crunchy and american Netflix too.
I’m not sure if this is quite the same phenomena you’re describing, but I find my tolerance for watching and listening to material I don’t understand varies widely over fairly short timescales. Some days I can ease myself into something where the voices and/or imagery are pleasant, other days it all just gives me a headache. For the most part I haven’t found a better solution than “wait it out.” Although the one bit of advice I might offer is to check out forms of media you haven’t before, things like drama CDs, audio books… and games. Right now I’m obsessed with a mobile game that, although it’s a rhythm game at the core, has a lot of text all of which is fully voiced.
What’s the name of the game? I love rhythm games and if Japanese is involved then I can give myself permission to play!
“Girls Band Party” (https://bang-dream.bushimo.jp/), it’s part of the “BanG Dream!” multimedia project which also includes an anime, CDs, live concerts, a novel, a couple of manga series, etc. The “Love Live” and “iDOLM@STER” franchises — both of which I love — have similar games which I always resisted for fear they would consume all my free time, but if they also have embedded stories with ample amounts of text I might reconsider!
It’s a similar phenomenon, because the same outside factors (tired, fatigue, frustration) can lower your understanding, and make it less likely you are going to enjoy whatever you are sampling.
You bring up a good point though, that sometimes it’s because you are singling your search too much to one type of material, and the freshness of another can make a difference in sparking interest.
Something that helps me fight immersion slumps: I keep a YouTube playlist called ゴミ箱, to hold random Japanese “trash”/brainless candy (comedy, clips, music) that amuses, feels nostalgic, or otherwise motivates/reminds me of the joy of learning.
A peek inside my ゴミ箱 (I’m sorry? ^w^;;;;):