KaniManabu - Open Source WaniKani style SRS for macOS (Soon iOS)

KaniManabu is an open source WaniKani style SRS app primarily to study vocab and Kanji not covered by WaniKani.


I decided to create this app a week ago after a month of starting WaniKani. I have been studying Japanese for about 10 years, but while I get most of the grammar, the Kanji still remains the most difficult part.

Also, I find Anki rather ineffective as I find myself tapping the show answer button and tap good and not actually remembering it. After a month of doing WaniKani lessons and reviews, I think typing the answer is more effective than the Anki method. I want to look for a solution that can reproduce the WaniKani experience, but locally hosted and no subscriptions since I already pay for too may subscriptions. I did look into the WaniKani Anki templates, but it still feels a bit too much like Anki and not user friendly needing to press the Again/Hard/Good/Easy button after typing the answer.

Moreover, I need to have something that allows me to control my data and works on my Apple devices. I looked at Kitsun, but it’s too expensive and subscription based. Torii doesn’t have an iOS app and I don’t want to use Java apps on my Mac, so I went to the DIY route.

As for developing the app, it’s surprising that I got something that works after a week of working on it. I started with the macOS It only took probably took me a few days to reproduce the SRS algorithm, deck/card management, and the review interface since I have macOS/iOS app developing experience. Of course, all the data is synced using iCloudKit with Core Data. Not only that, it took a lot of my free time developing this app.

What is KaniManabu

The name basically means Crab Learn, which is an app that allows you to create custom Vocabulary, Kana, and Kanji decks and review them WaniKani style. Unlike Anki, new cards are learned seperately and not during a review session. It allows the user to learn their cards at their own pace. There is also an Anki mode, which is set on a per-deck basis under Deck Options for the deck.

Not only that, the user can preview the cards and take a test on them before it gets added to the review queue. During the learning session, the user can look up the word in the built in macOS Dictionaries app, Monokakido’s Dictionaries app, and other resources and play the TTS.

The learning interface:

Item info

Decks View:

Deck Browser:

The review session is like WaniKani as you need to type the answer in. It does allow for typos and alternate answers, which the Anki templates don’t allow. It will also detect if you accidentally type in alphanumeric characters for the reading or the Japanese word for the meaning and not mark it wrong.

The app is now available on the App Store, at least the macOS version.

While the app is free to use and also open source, there is a three deck limitation on the free version. It should be enough decks for most users who will use this app to learn vocab and Kanji not covered on WaniKani. If you need more decks, you can donate or support me on Patreon and support the development, or compile your own.

However, self-compling with full functionality requires a paid Apple Developer Membership to use the iCloud features without heavy modifications (e.g. removing CloudKit support from CoreData Presistant Container), which I do not intend to give support. I decided on this compromise as it costs money to distribute apps on Apple’s platform, and not only the time. However, the three deck limit is the only limitation I am putting on the compiled versions besides the nag message,

The current release can be downloaded on the Mac App Store.

Requires macOS Catalina or later. The app is compiled as a Universal Binary 2, and will work natively on Apple Silicon Macs.

iOS/iPadOS version will come later in the year, but it may take some time.

Github Repo: GitHub - Atelier-Shiori/KaniManabu: An open source WaniKani style SRS Japanese Studying App for macOS
Official Website: https://kanimanabu.app
Bug Tracker (requires seperate registration): KaniManabu Bug Tracker | MAL Updater OS X Support Forums

Feel free to give any feedback here. Bugs should be filed on the bug tracker as I will check this thread infrequently.


HRRmmm, I think this is great! Would love to use on my iPhone, but I use a chromebook for all things Japanese so keep us updated on when the mobile version comes available!

Neat looking, but I’ll probably just stick with KaniWani for now. It’s free & gives me my grammar fix, plus I don’t have a need yet to add a pile more cards. Good luck on development!

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KaniManabu 1.0 Alpha 2 is now released. It can be downloaded from Github


This is the second alpha release, adds ability to import to existing decks and fix syncing issues

New Features

  • Add ability to import a CSV file to an existing deck

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

  • Fix UI data refresh when an iCloud sync is completed.
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1.0 Alpha 3 is now out, which fixes a bunch of stuff with some new WaniKani features implemented. Note that software update is broken on this release, but I will try to get that fix before the next release, which will be a while.

This release can be downloaded at Github


This is the third alpha release with some fixes and WaniKani integration.

Requires macOS Big Sur or later.

New Features

  • Added TTS voice selector
  • WaniKani integration is now added. You can view the breakdown of each Kanji for vocabulary words in the item viewer and lessons. You can also check if you are adding vocabulary that exists on WaniKani. (Free WaniKani accounts are limited to content in Levels 1-3)

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

  • Fixed the CPU usage issue when user changes decks when there is a large amount of cards in the database.
  • Answering Kana questions in review will now play the Japanese reading of the word, when enabled.
  • Fix bug where a wrong item in the learning quiz is immediately put on the review queue.
  • Add sidebar toggle button in the Deck Browser review toolbar
  • Fix crash with the text box shake animation for invalid input during a review.

1.0 Alpha 4 is now released, which fixes a bunch of bugs from the third Alpha release. I fixed the issue with Software Updates not working properly.

This release is mostly fixing existing bugs found since Alpha 4. Note that Alpha 4 now works with macOS 10.15 Catalina.

The release is up on Github. After adding the study forecast and the ability to learn/review items for all decks in the queue, the macOS version should be ready for Beta stage. That is when I will begin work on the iOS version.

New Features

  • Added back macOS 10.15 Catalina support
  • Added link to report bugs in the Help menu

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

  • Fixed Deck Importing (Importing a deck as a new Deck was broken)
  • Primary and Alt-Reading for Kanji is now renamed to On’yomi and Kun’yomi. The preferred answer is now determined by the Primary Reading Popup Button
  • Fixed Deck List Refresh when a deck is added, removed, or options updated
  • Fixed crash with WaniKani intergration

1.0 Alpha 6 is now released, adding a bunch of new features such as the ability to learn more items, how new cards are introduced, Microsoft TTS, built in IME and more.

Change log is below. This is probably the last Alpha build. The next release will be going to beta and hopefully a final release in early spring.

This is the sixth Alpha Release. This release adds support for Microsoft TTS, ability to learn more items, a new built in IME for readings and more.

You can download this release on Github

Requires macOS 10.15 or later.

New Features

  • Added ability to set per deck new card limit
  • Add option to override global new card limit
  • Added setting to determine how new cards are introduced per deck.
  • Added ability to type kana without enabling IME for reviews.
  • Added Online Help

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

  • Score and Correct count should not appear in Learning Mode

KaniManabu, at least on the Mac is now in Beta. Also, the app’s website is moved to a seperate website. The Mac version will launch sometime early spring. We plan to start developing the iOS version soon and the final release will be late spring.

The change log is below.

Beta 1

This is a beta release of KaniManabu, which implements a bunch of refinements.

New Features

  • The next SRS stage is now animated
  • Allow the ability for user to reset a burned card back to Enlightened SRS stage for rereview.
  • Added Markdown support for notes (Note: You cannot use both HTML and Markdown)
  • Add percentage correct to Item View

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

  • The readings with WaniKani integration is now shown in one line per reading type instead of individually.
  • Added missing meaning mnemonic for WaniKani Intergration
  • Improved deck monitoring with iCloud in regards to syncing, adding cards to learn queue and data refreshes

Beta 2

This is the second beta release, which fixes some bugs.

Requires macOS 10.15 or later

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

  • Removed Kana Readings field from the card editor. Kana for Vocabulary and Japanese for Kana Vocabulary will be used for TTS audio
  • Fixed deck importing.
  • Updated the URL for the app’s homepage to the new website.

1.0 Beta 3 is now released. This is probably the last Beta release until the final release comes out on the Mac App Store. Just minor fixes and support for IBM Watson TTS.

Change log is below

New Features

  • Add play voice toolbar button for reviews (Vocabulary and Kana only)
  • Add support for IBM Watson TTS (Subscribers do not need to configure before using the voice)
  • Add sample recordings of TTS voice
  • The question prompt background will change depend on type of question asked
  • Moved API settings for TTS voice to the Advanced Preference Pane

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

  • Fix crashes
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The app is now officially on the Mac App Store for download. Note that a subscription is optional if you are going to use only three decks. This limit will be increased to four when the “Other” deck type is added, which is a front/back (answer) deck type, which allows users to use screenshots, audio, or study grammar points, which I plan to add in the near future. The iOS/iPad version will take some time as iOS development is a bit, different.

If you are using the Beta version, allow the current version to sync to iCloud before switching over to the App Store version. Once you launch that version, it should automatically download your decks and progress. You will get notified once the process is complete.

Requires macOS 10.15 or later

Bug Fixes and Enhancements

  • Add Deck Version check (for future compatibility)
  • Analytics and Crashes are now opt-in
  • Fix setting of New Cards in learning queue when the deck’s learning queue is full. It will advance the date instead
  • Minor fixes
  • (Non App Store version) Modify notice that non-patrons should use the App Store version.