How to consume media/immerse correctly

Hello, I have started getting into watching anime only in Japanese with Japanese subtitles. At first I was just freely watching without pausing it and wasn’t getting anywhere but now I have been setting my media player to pause after every subtitle. I will try and work out what the sentence means and then move onto the next one. I have finally made my way through my first episode of anime doing this (it took me nearly 4 days). I am just not sure if this is right or not.

… I have also been giving Chat GPT the Japanese sentence and typing in what I think it means in English just to see if I’m close or not, again I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing

Any advice?


I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to immerse, but it sounds to me like you’ll discourage yourself going at that pace.

I try to set aside two kinds of media: those where I’ll stop and translate everything (for me, this is usually video games or light novels) and those where I’ll just let the words wash over me (usually TV shows).

I try to save automatic translations for a last resort, or to check work I’ve already done, or for those cases where I understand all the words but I can’t tie them together. I usually use DeepL myself. I’d be wary of ChatGPT. It’s probably fine for some tasks but I’ve seen it be factually incorrect about some horrifyingly basic stuff.

EDIT: With anime or TV shows, what I usually do is watch once without English and give the show my full attention, then watch again with English to get closure or check how much I understood. I fully know I won’t learn anything on that second pass, but sometimes it helps me get context for the next episode or I’m just really curious.


Surprisingly it’s not discouraging me, I am finding that I am getting quicker at processing what’s being said and some things I don’t even need to try and work out I just know it and skip to the next thing. It gives me a little buzz when that happens :smiley:

I guess I am doing something similar, I will read the subtitles one at a time and then I have just the audio on my phone playing on repeat while I’m in work so the words wash over me. Since I have already worked out what they are saying it makes it easier to listen to and understand

I have never heard of DeepL, I’ll have to give it a go cos I’ve even noticed sometimes ChatGPT gives insanely wrong answers

Oh that sounds so hard! I have just been watching things I have already seen before with English subs so I don’t have to worry about what is going on since I already have a sense of it

Thanks you for the response!


I think it’s good to try to have a decent chunk of the stuff you read/watch/listen to at an easier level.
(whether tv, podcasts, youtubers, textbooks, etc.)

If you can, listen to something for 30 mins which you understand 80% of it’s vocab/grammar, but there’s a handful of words/grammar you don’t understand and need to either work out from context, or lookup.

Compared to something which maybe you need to look up 50%, it’s a lot quicker, and I think more likely for the words you do look up to stay in your head.

That said, if you’re really keen on something, and don’t mind that it’s a bit of a slog to get through, then do keep at it!

Maybe if 20% of the media you consume is a stretch, and 80% is easier - that could be a good balance.


I have just been watching Pokemon since I haven’t seen it since I was a kid and I assume it wouldn’t have complicated topics. I feel I know maybe 30-40% of what’s being said.

I am just trying to trust in the process and hope it gets easier over time :’)

This paragraph is a mess, it’s pretty hard to summarize what I do, it’s pretty organic and not organized at all lol

Most of the anime I use for immersion feels like I have 70% - 90% comprehension. Then, to extract the most of it without boring myself to death, I keep watching, and pausing or rewinding ~5 seconds to re-read the subtitles, most of the time with a second through reading I can understand it, but mostly I need to lookup a few words. Sometimes there’s some complex sections, where I watch the entire thing once before coming back to make sure I haven’t lost anything. A few times I use the translation available in the file to check my understanding, it’s better than translating on deepl, most of the time. I open the translation file in my browser on a second monitor, so it’s pretty quick to check unknown words using Yomitan, but I need to scroll down to find the timestamp. I take almost an hour per episode, but there’s episodes way harder than others.

If you could take anything useful from this, I’m glad :bowing_man:

Thanks for the response!

When you first started were you still watching anime with 70-90% comprehension or has that improved over time so that you select harder stuff with about that much understanding?

Also what’s a translation file? Like the English sub srt file or is it something different?

I didn’t start too long ago. I watched Usagi Drop completely, 5 episodes of Wataten and 6 episodes of Isshuukan Friends. My comprehension % has increased a little on average, but I’m becoming faster, and I “unlocked” quite a lot of common spoken language structures/words so far, the kind of thing that Bunpro and similar resources will not teach you, only immersion.

Also what’s a translation file? Like the English sub srt file or is it something different?

Yeah, but for japanese. I get them on They need a little of correction on the timing sometimes, but I use a hotkey to fix it.

At this point I’ve watched hundreds of hours of Japanese TV and YouTube, closer to a thousand than to zero. It gets much easier, don’t worry. I had many of the same doubts when I started as well.

I wouldn’t worry too much about efficiency and instead just focus on enjoyment and paying attention. Some intensive pausing and sentence mining etc is fine to do, especially at the very low levels of comprehension, however it’s also worth watching stuff at normal speed just so you get more exposure to the natural speed and sound of the language. My experience was initially just being able to catch words or very simple phrases here and there and then eventually you catch sentences and so on and so on. Obviously it’s personal how much you can tolerate not understanding stuff but it’s also a skill that can be trained in itself. I personally allow reading time to be a lot more intensive and when listening I will look stuff up on my phone whilst watching or on the rare occasion pause to check something (normally cultural and not linguistic). You don’t need to know every word and it is more helpful and psychologically easier to go for low hanging fruit (phrases you think you’ve head before, words with kanji you know if you have Japanese subtitles on, etc). Occasional machine translation is probably fine but if a sentence is essentially incomprehensible to you then just move on - you’ll understand it eventually, don’t worry.

I can now comfortably follow a large variety of things and I have 99% comprehension for easier youtube and TV shows. One caveat is that I live in Japan so my listening hours are probably higher than I realise just from real life listening but that doesn’t change my advice.

At the end of the day you need to work out what works for you personally as part of this is a matter of personal inclination and interest but don’t worry too much and keep going and it will start to come together. Good luck!


Imo if you want to read, open a book and read. TV is good for listening so constantly pausing it seems like a bad idea to me. You don’t need to look up every single word either. Turn off the subtitles and just watch it and work on developing your ears.

If you want to improve your vocab, read a book.


I find a mix of listening at my level/definitely can understand (Japanesepod101, Japanese with Shun podcast sped up a bit) and things that are a challenge (normal youtube vids, anime etc) really helpful, as it’s really gratifying understanding and being able to focus on the few small things I don’t understand, and then letting the more advanced waves was over me and try to pick up what I can! it seems like a good balance.

I also most days listen to the Bunpro example sentences before reading them to check my comprehension. Love that there are so many for both grammar points and vocab.

If you’re using ChatGPT free it’s really dodgy; it’s not cheap to pay for the upgraded version and I do so for work reasons but it’s much better and there are custom Chats, such as “Japanese Proofreader” by Taiichi Hirano that’s trained to answer questions on Japanese grammar and goes into pretty amazing detail explaining things I come across or want to write in my journal. I can also feed it a grammar point and what I’m trying to say and it’ll give me that, or answer questions about nuance.

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I’ve bought a couple audiobooks in Japanese for stories I’ve read before in English (a while ago) so I don’t have to worry so much about figuring out the context and can focus more on catching as much as I can. I know Harry Potter really well so the first book is one of the ones I listen to and will repeat entire chapters a few times. I have the option to listen to it at 3/4 or 1/2 speed but I’m trying to get used to full speed audio. I also have Ascendence of a Bookworm, for some variety, since I’m reading the series in English.

For series I’ve watched many times before and know the story already, I turn off subtitles and try to just enjoy it. Realizing you understand a conversation between two characters is really motivating. Even if it’s only about buying and eating way too many apples before they go bad :apple:

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I want to do something similar, I’ve been actually just running full episodes without subtitles, and I understand maybe 30% of it, mostly based on context.

If you don’t mind me asking, where are you guys getting anime with Japanese subtitles? I’ve been mostly watching kids shows via IPTV (like japanese dubbed Disney shows). How were you able to set it up to pause every subtitle?

I find this way of learning way more rewarding because it actually feels like I’m making progress, rather than just bulk studying random words and concepts.

Animelon is one site I’m currently using. They don’t have everything but definitely a heck ton. Option for eng/romanji/jap subtitles with any combination of the three or none at all

No idea about the pause after every sub thing tho
Welcome to the community :tada:

You can download subtitle files on, or watch on animelon. I think sites like netflix include subtitles in most languages as well.

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I agree with Brand. Ones where you look stuff up are “active immersion” and ones where you don’t are “passive immersion”.
I look up words more often in Manga, cause I find it frustrating to pause all the time.
I personally just set my Netfilx account to Japanese.

both have instructions on how to run scripts that automatically pause every time the subtitle changes and export that information to anki, and a browser where you can use yomichan to make an anki card.
I followed tasumoto ren’s guide and made two anki cards this way. Subs 2 SRS looks easier to set up.

I’m not hard core enough to All Japanese All The Time.

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To auto pause I get my subtitle files online and my video files…… ripped from legally purchased DVDs :eyes::eyes::eyes: and then I use a program called Memento which is similar to mpv. On my mac I press command+P and it auto pauses at the end of each subtitle, Memento includes yomichan so you can hover over and use the dictionary on words

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Language Reactor allows you to pause after every subtitle:

For example, on YouTube:

You can use the AP toggle on the right which is labelled: “Automatically pause playback at the end of every subtitle [‘Q’ key]”.

Note that the automatic furigana on Language Reactor isn’t always correct, so sometimes I double check it with Yomichan/Yomitan or Jisho.


Sorry if it seems obvious, but Japanese Netflix has a whole lot. If you’re subscribed you could try a VPN and check out the catalogue. The only disadvantage is that many of the items don’t have english audio/subs at all. My recommendation would be ‘Frieren’ its a pretty heartwarming slice of life in a fantasy setting if thats something you’re into.

I’m not a big media guy, a lot due to being busy often, so don’t take my opinion to heavily.

I never really liked how people call it immersing. You are not immersing yourself, you are subjecting yourself. You are actively choosing to force yourself to do something that your brain is going to resist
But I always thought a good way of going about it would be as follow.
Find something that is native to japanese, that has a full english translation. Preferably shorter form (10-15 minutes). Watch the content in japanese, while pausing and rewinding when you inevitably start to lose focus, and then mull over it for a minute or two. Then watch the English (or which ever native tongue you have) version. Then rewatch the japanese version, this time pausing after every couple of sentences to make sure you are still following. This way you familiarize yourself with the content (and give yourself a chance to understand it in japanese) in japanese. Then you understand it, and see if you had any bad on the fly comprehensions, in your mother tongue. And finally you connect it all by reviewing. Just what I always kind of thought at least

Also, I always thought songs would be a good way to do it.

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