Manual Kanji Unlock


Forgive me if this is a duplicate post, but I couldn’t seem to find a post requesting a feature exactly like this one.

As every vocabulary learner begins during their kanji journey at one point or another, along with WaniKani, I have an Anki deck with vocabulary words I am months away from unlocking on WaniKani, but would like to learn sooner (for games, books, using my GPS, etc.,). As I learn the custom vocab words on Anki, I also try to learn the Anki kanji cards from the unofficial WaniKani deck which compose said vocabulary word. (Shhhh… don’t tell anyone! But yes, I am paying for WaniKani). I do this, because I really like the WaniKani system and would like to replicate it with my own vocab study.

I know that WaniKani works within their rigid level system to prevent people from burning out and provide little dopamine boosts, so I am not suggesting the team let users create custom vocabulary lessons. I’m not sure if that would even make the platform better.

The second best option would be to let users manually unlock whatever lessons they want. However, this would present two potential issues.

  1. users might unlock too much at once and burn out
  2. users could unlock lessons out of order (kanji before its radicals, vocab before its kanji…)

As for the first, we’re all paying for this tool so it doesn’t horrify me if users were allowed to use it as they see fit. But since I do appreciate the level constraints, I do think it might be kind of cool if users were given “freebie lessons” with each level up (after level 3). Users could unlock X number of lessons they choose from any level with their freebie cards. Getting more freebie cards would encourage users to try to level up the and work on the lessons they already have.

As for the second, you could divide “freebies” into radical freebies and kanji freebies and enforce proper order when allowing users to unlock new lessons (that is to say, you must get all radicals a kanji is composed of to Guru before using a freebie on a kanji lesson). Since kanji are usually composed of more than one radical, you could give users more radical freebies than kanji freebies on every level up. As always, when a user gets a kanji to Guru, they’ll unlock whatever vocab lessons they can now learn with whatever they have at Guru + that new kanji, so there’s no reason to have “vocab freebies”.

Of course, there is the question for what to do with users already at level X. I wouldn’t want to cause users to burn out, but I suppose you could just give them all their freebies from levels 1 through X-1 at once? Or maybe you could use some type of logarithmic algorithm that gives them their normal new freebies every time they level up, and then in addition, X% of the freebies they would have gotten already had this feature been added before they got to level X.

If whatever I said doesn’t make sense, I can reply and/or edit my post. I know it would take a bit of re-engineering on the backend, but I’d really like this feature. I plan on converting to a lifetime this Christmas, so I would appreciate it if the team would give it some thought.

Thank you!


I would just ignore the entry on wanikani until it comes up. If you’ve learned the item by then, that’s great, it’s an easy review, no need to learn the mnemonics or anything, you are just done with it.


This is what I already do and is ultimately the solution in the meantime. I think my suggestion is pretty much just a QOL suggestion. I don’t want to limit my learning to only the WaniKani order, but I feel pretty stupid paying for WaniKani yet having to resort to an unofficial Anki deck to learn kanji I am fully capable of learning.

While I don’t really think Wanikani needs this system as the method you currently use works perfectly fine from a learning perspective without too much extra effort, I do think it’s a really cool idea from a gamification perspective. Earning “freebies” as a reward would just increase that dopamine hit from leveling up. And the reward is motivation to learn even more kanji! It might also stimulate/reward reading and vocab study outside of WK because you’d feel like you’d be able to better utilize freebies on kanji you’ve encountered in the wild.

1 Like

I like your idea! Im learning vocab for books and games outside of Wanikani as well. Ive been using a different SRS for the vocab lists I assemble myself, and that SRS also breaks vocab with multiple kanji into seperate pieces, and radicals. But I find it harder to memorize with than Wanikani, especially when they both have different radical names. So I see and appreciate the use of your suggestion.

But Id like to suggest a different way of doing it. I love the freebies idea, but I think it would be more to the point to unlock vocab than specific radicals and kanji, especially as two seperate point systems. I think it would make more sense to “unlock” a chosen vocab. It would put that vocab into que as if that vocab was in your current level, so you would get the radicals first, then kanji, then vocab, guruing each step as usual. Just more to the point, without having two different types of freebies or having to add them individually.

Another possible feature could be a vocab goals list you set yourself, and then freebies unlock the closest level vocab, or radicals/kanji needed for the most vocab.

I like this suggestion, but I think it “shifts the complexity” from the front-end to the back-end.

What I mean is, with my suggestion, users choose the radicals and kanji they want, and the corresponding unlocks flow downstream from that. Once the kanji is finally at Guru, they might get quite a few vocabulary lessons, but this was always part of the plan, as they unlocked the kanji, not a single vocabulary lesson.

With your method, users will unlock the same radicals and kanji as usual, but they will be automatically selected by the vocabulary word the freebie was used on. However, once the kanji gets to Guru, the user may find five (or however many) new vocab words instead of one (unless you think the other “non-freebie” vocab lessons should stay hidden until the appropriate level is reached).

As long as the feature is presented as a macro for “Okay, you want this word? We’ll unlock these radicals and kanji for you”, I think your idea is fine.

However, I think there would need to be some testing done as to whether the other “non-freebie” vocab lessons available to be unlocked after a kanji is at Guru should or should not be unlocked early. I think, normally (under my original suggestion), such peripheral lessons should be unlocked, because, why shouldn’t they? The user can learn them now. However, if you make radical and kanji unlocks per freebie based off of vocab words, users may (intentionally or unintentionally) unlock jukugo compounds with four kanji in them and get overloaded with 20 lessons or something at once.

1 Like

You make a good point. I was thinking only the selected vocab would unlock. I think that might still work, as you answered the “why shouldnt they,” yourself (being overloaded with lessons.)

It also has the downside that kanji and radicals unlocked earlier would not be fresh on your mind when you actually get to that level. If youve really memorized them maybe thats not an issue.

I think there are some good ideas in the thread, and you should definitely shoot an email to to let them know about it.

They’re pretty responsive during the week.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.