Month 7 of immersion: Watching to learn, instead of learning in order to watch

I’m pretty old school, in the literal sense. Not sure what the average age is here at these forums, but I’m well above that age, at least I think so. I’m at least old enough to remember Nurock being the popular thing in high school and going to Blockbuster on Friday nights. Another not as well known venture was the only anime club in my city that I knew of back then. It was called D.H.O.S. Stood for the Dimensional Hammer Otaku Society, which if anybody here actually knows what that is, I’d actually be shocked. For you old school peeps in Hawaii and Cali, it probably wasn’t that hard to get Japanese content back then. But for lil old us in Texas, you really had to have connections. The people in the group who were a little older certainly had those connections, and held meetings in rooms of desolate and now defunct malls and smokey bowling alleys. That was where I got one of my first glimpses of raw, unsubtitled anime the way I had never seen it before, commercials and all. We all sat there, glued to the CRT monitor like Melee players who refuse to move on to another game. Unseen future episodes of Sailormoon and Dragonball that were actually years old episodes in Japan. Back when we were stuck in rerun hell pre-Cartoon Network. We didn’t know what they were saying, but none of us complained either. We were just happy to be watching the original, uncut anime in Japanese. There were some older members there who had studied some Japanese and had even been to the country before. As much as we enjoyed what we watched, I’m pretty sure there was not a single person in that room who hasn’t studied at least a little bit, or wanted to learn to speak it someday.

In the following years, I most certainly put forth some effort into learning Japanese. My ideas and philosophies on how it would be learned have changed numerous times over the years as well. But if there is one regret I have, it was definitely not watching more anime and content in Japanese. After I started to learn Japanese, I started to view anime differently. No longer did I not know anything at all, I understood a bit. Very little, but even that changes your entire perspective. Now I was looking out for words, comparing what was said to the translation, on top of being critical about things I didn’t need to be critical about. It became a bit much for me, so I just didn’t watch it at all for a good while. I just figured, I’ll learn more Japanese, and then it’ll become easier for me to do this. But it never really seemed any easier despite how much I studied, even if I was understanding more.

I really felt that it got to the point that I started to feel jealous. Not so much of the people who knew Japanese and could understand it without subtitles, but those who could steamroll through an entire season in a weekend and not think twice about it. I knew that in their minds it was just entertainment, an escape, something to do. But me, I just couldn’t sit there and watch it. My pompous attitude had to understand as much as I could, had to dissect it, I had do show I knew more about it than other people. After all, I knew more Japanese and knew more about art and the creative process than all my friends and peers. It wasn’t just something I expected from myself, it was also an expectation from those around me. In a sense, I had created a sense of being ”cursed with knowledge”, as another forum member described it. There was even a period when I stopped watching and reading Japanese content all together. I remember playing Valkyria Chronicles completely in English which I sort of considered a falling off point.

I thought about how acquired English in the first place. Spanish is my first language and I didn’t learn to speak it until I was 5 years old. Still, being born in the USA most of the content I watched was in English. I remember watching so many episodes of Thundercats, I can recall remembering things they said. I might have not known how to speak, but I was understanding what they were saying. I didn’t understand everything, but I don’t think most kids would even understand a lot of the context and nuances of what the characters say in cartoons. Did it prevent me from enjoying them, not really. Same as when I watched raw Japanese episodes in that bright meeting room at the far corners of a desolate mall, I just enjoyed them for what they were. Creators have different goals for their audiences, but I think most want the audience to in the end, simply enjoy what they are watching. That’s something I needed to come to terms with before diving deeper into immersion. Thinking a little more like my 5 year old self who just wanted to watch Thundercats and not a masterclass on writing, cinematography, and foreshadowing. I certainly wasn’t thinking about those things when I was in the DHOS meeting either. I was just thinking, happy fun time with a bunch of geeks watching something almost none of us can understand. Geez, my head would explode if I knew how easy it would become just stream endless Japanese content.

I often joke that a full season of the original Sailormoon would be my reward for learning Japanese, or at least getting to a level that I felt I was very satisfied with. That hasn’t quite happened yet, but I have learned to watch several others without the need to necessarily understand every single thing. And that’s what in essence immersion is at it’s core. It’s watching to learn, instead of learning in order to watch. It’s something that took me a long, long time to come to terms with, or rather, I had to dig deeper into my past self to realize that I already had that state of mind at 5 years old. A state of mind that was altered into believing that the only way to learn anything properly was through books and route memorization, and not through Thundercats and anime. Both are important, but it’s better when they exist harmoniously.

July was a very hot month, not just for Texas but for the world. So I didn’t feel so bad staying inside, immersing and reading. I doubled down on Bunpro lessons. Doing 2 pomodoro blocks instead of 1 a day, and finally getting through all of N3. (When them N2 explanations coming?) Another member also directed me to Migaku as a browser and anki extension, and has it worked wonders. Continuing to watch anime, finally watching Erased. I remember a friend of mine endlessly complaining about the title being changed from 僕だけがいない町。Eh, whatevs. I don’t know if its just me, but the more Japanese I know the less I seem to care about those sort of things. But anyway, what a great series, I really missed out on it back when it came out in 2016. Also finished Hi-Score Girl which was very good. Did lose some focus in this last week by playing Multiverses on my lunch breaks instead of watching an episode. Thought there was a limited amount of time since it’s an “open beta”. Guess I’m old and just didn’t realize how these things work.


I am also in Texas (:hot_face:)and rented movies from Blockbuster on Fridays, but I refuse to accept I am “old”. Got my Netflix in the mail too :joy: I think there is a wide range of ages, experience, and walks of life when you look at people interested in learning Japanese - for various reasons too. For example, I’m meh on anime but love manga :woman_shrugging:t2:I think it’s great you are enjoying content for the sake of joy. Our brains learn best that way! Onwards and upwards!


Thank you for sharing your story.

I think taking the leap to immersing yourself in native content, be that anime, movies, books, games, etc, is always an important but daunting step. As you said, you really need to let go of the need to overthink and expect perfect understanding, and just learn to enjoy media & entertainment for what it is. No matter how much studying you do, when you dive in for the first time, it will be hard, no way around that.

Also Erased is definitely a good one! I remember watching it weekly when it was airing, and people being somewhat disappointed around the last few episodes because everyone was expecting some massive twist, with crazy theories going around. But then it ended up being not nearly as convoluted :joy:. But if you don’t get lost in those theories it is just a good anime! I guess my point is that maybe it’s a good thing you watched it now instead of when it was first released. I know for me, these days I much prefer just watching something after it has fully aired, without hearing about it and enjoying it without overanalyzing.


I’m 46 years old. You are NOT alone. :heart:


48yo here. There’s plenty of us!


Tengo 40 años y trastorno obsesivo-compulsivo. If there are two things I know, it’s being old and needing to understand everything! I felt silly for never thinking to do immersion practice too, but I’ve been doing it for over a year now and it’s been tremendously helpful to me too.

One other thing that’s helped me is LangCorrect. I was so, so trepidatious about output, but it’s actually given me huge gains with Bunpro. When I mess up an item here, I make example sentences with it there. Makes it a lot easier to remembr all the “very” words like かなり and なかなか and けっこう!

If you really want to get everything, you can also rewatch with English afterwards. That’s what I do when I watch anime and telenovelas: first time Japanese/Spanish; second time English. I’m trying to specifically learn Mexican Spanish and all the idioms and expressions are a beast. Plus I think Spanish subjunctives are actually going to kill me!

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Well, if you are in the US you’re learning the Spanish that will be most helpful to you. Always boggled me why a lot of classes teach Spanish from Spain.

I grew up with telenovelas since my family is Mexican, but don’t watch them anymore. I guess I watch Japanese telenovelas now, lol.

Mucha suerte y animo con tu inmersión.

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