It’s all about exposure: sure, in the beginning, most kanji’s meaning will have to be looked up, along with what the word is that they belong to. However, as others have mentioned, just make sure that you do 2 things: 1) keep studying through WaniKani (and other sources, if applicable) and 2) patiently do your best to read the content that you challenge yourself to do. Yes, constant lookups are annoying and, yes, it gets tiring, but if you remember the reason that you’re looking up and, ultimately, learning Japanese, you’ll find that it’s a labor of love rather than a labor.
Also, as you learn things and they stick, what once was a chore will become more of a pleasure and you self-confidence will also boost as well. Although I’m low level on WaniKani (for now), I can speak from experience that, as I (sometimes painfully) looked up things constantly, I kept in mind that this is part of a) getting exposure that will add to b) learning a language that I love to learn, that ultimately leads to c) getting more enjoyment of said language that will help me reach and maintain my goal of why I’m learning it in the first place.
To be honest, as I’m sure you and most (if not all) the others in this thread (or even students of Japanese in general) were first scared and discouraged at the amount of kanji available. However, I personally find that now, without having kanji, that reading is more difficult as the whole point of kanji is to picturize ideas and take the guesswork out of an intended meaning. Yes, there are a lot of kanji (way more than the letters that comprise the English alphabet and probably more than the characters that make up other languages), but, as I mentioned, they are ultimately there to help and, as you get exposure to them, they will become more of an aide rather than a hinderance.
It’s like how Japanese people view learning English: ugh, I have to learn this weird aspect that doesn’t line up at all with mine? I’ll NEVER learn English… However, they will, they just need the PATIENCE of learning the material and the FOCUS on why they’re learning English in the first place. Same applies with Japanese learners.
Also, don’t fret over memorizing the kanji to the point of being able to write them. Even native Japanese can’t do this for every kanji. Instead, it’s from seeing 常用 jouyou kanji so many times that they can’t help but know what it means and how to pronounce it because they’ve been exposed to it so many times. It’s leik ni Enligsh wehre you dnot see teh indviudal lettres, but teh ovreall wodrs taht givse teh maening. Otherwise, how in the h e double hockey stick would anyone be able to use, much less, understand kanji and their associated words?!
And, speaking of meanings, don’t fret over meanings too much. Over time, as you learn and get exposure to the language, you’ll start to get a real feel for the meaning, its context, and real life practical usage. Again, in short, get as much exposure as you can with the things that you love to do. For example, personally, as a Nintendo and Apple fan, I read about and try to interact as much as possible with the things that are associated with them. I read articles online about them in Japanese as much as possible; I play Nintendo in Japanese as much as possible (unless you play games like Splatoon 2 that, for some reason don’t let you choose Japanese as a language grrrr); I use certain apps that relate to my studies in Japanese and I even use my work iPhone in Japanese to see and reinforce what I do know and look up what I don’t to be able to master that through exposure (seeing it again and again until I can’t help but know what it means from interacting with it so many times).
See where I’m going with this? First FOCUS on your Japanese study reasons, then PATIENTLY interact and look up the unknowns for the content that you have interest in in Japanese, and make sure to keep up your EXPOSURE to said studies and content so that you can reinforce what you’re learning and using. Japanese people are able to do so through years of exposure with Japanese, we English speakers are able to do so through years of exposure to English, and you (along with all other students of Japanese) can too through years of exposure and the patience to go from ugh, another annoying unknown that I have to look up to NICE! I KNOW THIS!