Cleaning up leeches/items and I'm frustrated that its taking so long

I’m not sure what exactly the point of my post is, I think I just want to share what I’m experiencing and see what others think.

I have enough time in my day to manage 200 apprentice items, but I realized that I have a ton of leeches. I just leveled up to level 13. I haven’t done any of the level 13 lessons because I want to clear out all of the level 12 and below items to at least Master.

My thoughts are that if I can move the majority of the previous level reviews out of the way, then when I learn the Kanji for level 13 I can focus on using the vocabulary to reinforce what is happening at that level, rather than drowning in vocab/kanji from previous levels. I’m not interested in just rushing through levels, but I do want to learn quickly.

What I’m finding frustrating is that in the short term I just want to move on to level 13 and get going! But I hope that this clean-up of previous reviews will help long-term with focusing on learning new stuff rather than dragging crap along from previous levels.


You might want to decrease your apprentice items. While you may have to time to handle it, you might not be able to actually remember all of the reviews properly. Having less apprentice will mean less reviews but you could be able to retain information about the ones you keep failing.


I think so too, at least until I clear out the old stuff. Most of the new stuff im able to remember, its just a bulk of old stuff that I can’t seem to grasp.

I want to tidy up my wanikani routine to try and make it more efficient in the future.


fair warning you can search my posts … leeches are huge problem on WK…and there is no built in method to manage them … many have used scripts and other things but ultimately it’s a deficit of WK that they really need to address…

that said…if you are at death by leeches mode now and you are only level 12…I never usually suggest this…but I’d recommend resetting to level 2 and starting over and keeping your apprentice items around 100 (or some other manageable number…sucks going slow but that may be your best bet IMO)

…there’s no easy way to fix the leech problem and overall you’ll be overloading yourself when all the master/enlightened items come around for burn…will be a very painful wall you run into shortly if you haven’t hit it already…resetting now while it’s early and going slower is probably your best bet…


Did you take a long break from WK? We’re the same level, and I’m going pretty slow (two weeks a level), and have only just started to burn items, compared to your high number of burns.

Here are my stats for comparison:

If you took a long break, or did some of the earlier levels very sporadically, you might be struggling to remember a lot of things just because you took a lot of time off. I’m sure that your memory will start coming back if you take some time to tackle that review pile!

It might benefit you to do some extra studying of the items that are messing you up. I would open up all the pages of the items you missed at the end of the review session and review the mnemonics, and maybe attempt to figure out what exactly is tripping you up (if you’re confusing them with other items, or forgetting the reading, or the meaning, etc.).

You could also try the leech training userscript or other scripts that were made to help take care of leeches. I run through the leech training quiz every day to try to keep my leeches in check before they become a problem. So far, I only have a few leeches that keep coming back, but I do put in extra studying outside of the WK intervals by drilling with the leech training script, and also by using the self-study script to drill all of my new lesson items immediately after I do new my lessons.

How did you balance your lesson workload before this? Were you doing lessons in huge batches, or were you spreading them out by doing a steady number every day? If you haven’t tried it before, I recommend doing a set number of lessons each day (10-15 will let you progress at a nice moderate pace). It’ll even out your daily review workload and help keep your apprentice item count from spiking due to large lesson binges. Even if you have the time to go through that many reviews, if the material isn’t sticking, you’re much better off going slower and putting your time into learning the items more thoroughly.

I also recommend looking at the WK level of your leeches. If a lot of them are from the past few levels, it’s probably worth resetting to a couple levels back.


Thanks for the feedback. I’ve been keeping the apprentice at around 100 until about 2 months ago when I started to have some more free time. I’ve been using self-study quiz script a bit for leech study. Before I consider resetting back to level 2 I want to try a few things. I’ve been practicing writing a bit, so I’m going to try some good old fashion line writing for my leeches. I’m going to write down everything I get wrong during my reviews like 20 time each and see what happens.


Thanks for your reply.

I wasn’t doing lessons in a methodical way for most of the time I’ve been using WaniKani. Normally just keeping the apprentice items at 100, but over the last 2 months I bumped up to 200. I’m not going to do any more lessons until I move everything out of apprentice I think. I really don’t want to reset my progress, I’d rather just not do any new stuff for 2-4 weeks and clean up the leeches. I’m going to start writing down everything I get wrong during reviews and writing it like 10-20 times.

I did level 1-6 really sporadically and slow you can see my times per level here:


That sounds like a good strategy to manage the current problem! Going forward, I would recommend trying to do a consistent number of lessons a day. Even though it seems like it should slow you down to limit how many lessons you do in one day, my daily workload is substantially less than yours, and my level up times are shorter, so a little consistency can make a world of difference! If you try this out and really hate it, you can go back to doing what you were doing before, but I think it might help prevent this situation from happening again!

If you haven’t read it before, I also recommend reading the ultimate guide to WK. There are a lot of tips in there about building a schedule that’ll allow you to be more efficient while saving yourself some stress.


Thanks, I’ve read the ultimate guide before, I’ll go for a reread I think.I think I’ll try to do a better job of creating consistency this time around.

I moved to Japan right when I started doing WK. Life was nuts for the first year here, which is why the level-up times were so long and all over the place.

I’m going to use this thread as a way to log what I’m doing and see if my thought process makes sense long run.

Thanks for your feedback!


tldr: I wanna do the fun thing that gives me a short term dopamine rush and not do the responsible unfun thing that will help me in the long run
get your reviews done mate! :slight_smile: even if it means writing out your leeches and memorizing them separately…


I’m not sure what you mean. I do all my reviews everyday.

Maybe I should have titled this thread something else haha. I guess I’m cleaning up items/leeches and not reviews.


Just popping in to say that this is a concern that I have, given that on my study log I’m trying to whittle down 1140 reviews XD

We’re in similar boats mayhaps :wink:

1 Like

yeah maybe I misunderstood… anyway, my point is, if you have trouble with reviewing or retention (like, leeches) at level 12, you’re gonna have a bad time at later levels… so whatever you do, don’t just race forward and let the leeches overwhelm you (I hope I got it right what you meant). I got especially screwed because WaniKani changed their mnemonics back when I was like level 20 and it slowed me down so much … I had a lot of items that I only half-remembered but was able to guess … now without the old mnemonics, I can’t even go back and review it, so I slowed down like hell… if I had focused on it and remembered everything perfectly, I’d be alright, but I half assed it and now I regret


Thanks for your reponse!

I think I screwed myself on some stuff at around level 6/7 that’s where the bulk of my leeches are. The new level stuff is fine (so far).

I think waiting to do level 13 stuff until I have all the current items under control is the right call. Just sucks haha. Thanks!

1 Like

I wouldn’t look at the apprentice count as an indicator how fast you are going. As long as you do your kanji as soon as they become available, you will be going as fast as possible. You can adjust from there. Only thing you are doing with increasing your apprentice count is increasing the momentary burden. Even when I was going max speed my app. count was pretty consistently under 150. Of course if you have some bad streaks that number can creep up.

That said, I also think the leech issue is real and is the main reason I stopped WK after some months at 60. I was just left with leeches, and hammering at them with self-study is not what I think is an efficient use of my time. While leveling it’s probably unavoidable, unfortunately. I think of it as “Here are some leeches that are frustrating and leeching your time, let’s throw even more time at them!” Better to let those words come to you when you are ready, IMO.


Hey :slight_smile:

I’d advise you to use the Self-Study script to review your most recently failed items every once in a while. From my experience and from seeing others doing it, I find it to be the most effective way to fix the leeches, and it doesn’t take that long :slight_smile: A few weeks of doing it every couple of days, and you’ll feel much better already.

Here are the links for the scripts:

You need the 1st one installed as it is the self-study script itself. The 2nd script adds the filter of “most recently failed items” to your self-study tool.

Let me know if that helps :v:


My review strategy is very simple (and slow): I review for 30 minutes every day, give or take, and that’s it. Leech management is a problem with any SRS system like WK, but at the end of the day managing them is on me, and I’ve gotten past most of them over the years through pounding them into my skull, though I still get routinely fail the final review on them ahead of burning. Oh well. They’ll stick eventually.

More generally, it’s far more important to be consistent in your reviewing than it is to manage leeches or whatever else you think is going to improve your learning. Lots of people on here are trying to min/max WK like it’s a video game, but ultimately your brain is only going to go as fast as it’s going to go (though ime learning speeds up appreciably with time, though I couldn’t tell you exactly when it happened). There’s really only one way to move the needle on reviews, and that’s time spent reviewing while your mind is untaxed. I found it easiest to review consistently 30m a day - others will differ - but you have to find what works for you. Beyond that I wouldn’t worry about it. Memorization is a grind, so just grind it out.


Have you started learning grammar and reading native material yet? You’ll find a lot of what you’re seeing by level 12 comes up fairly frequently, so getting into reading will help reinforce it.

Granted, if you haven’t done reading native material yet, it a huge uphill battle to get started. But it will be regardless of when you do it, so it may be better to tackle it sooner rather than later. The more comfortable you are with reading native material now, the more likely you are to see words you’re learning in WaniKani later.

One great place to start learning is with the Absolute Beginner Book Club, which is part of our WaniKani community book clubs. It’s best to know at least some basic grammar going in, but then you find much of the book club discussion is on grammar (especially for the Absolute Beginner and Beginner Book Clubs).

My favorite leeches are the ones I see in a manga, then get right on every subsequent review because I recall the scene I saw the word used in.


It’s really helpful if you can figure out why you’re getting the leech wrong.

  • Are you always confusing it for a similar (or not so similar!) word/kanji? Write them both out together and come up with a mnemonic or visual trick to tell them apart.
  • Are you always confusing the pronunciations for two kanji that mean similar things? (like 森 and 林) Write them out together and, again, figure out a mnemonic to link the right pronunciation to the right one.
  • Is your brain just going “nope, bunch of squiggles, I give up”? (I started having this problem around level 9 or 10.) Slow down, look for the radicals, try and remember the story … unless…
  • Having trouble finding the WK radicals in there in the first place? Figure out what is popping out at you and make a new mnemonic about that (Like 暑 doesn’t look like sun+someone to me, it looks like 2 suns that are stuck together, so I’m just gonna run with that!)
    Don’t be afraid to add new mnemonics on top of old ones (or instead of old ones) if that helps.

Thanks for the message. I’ve started reading a few things but always feel like its over my head. I’ve been using satori reader lately, and it seems decent. I think I’ll give the book club a try! I live in Japan so the most native reading I’ve been doing is menus!

Thanks for the link to the book club I think it’s just what I need!