I can smell the level 30… it’s closing in slowly… is the grass greener on that side…? Can you finally read manga while compherending most what’s going on…? Is the learning by immersion enhanced significantly…? Can you actually read light novels and get the full story instead of just some tracks and traces here and there…?
When you can read depends mostly on when you start to. If you pick out a manga that isn’t very hard, you will be able to understand it, you just need patience. Level 30 is only a milestone in the sense that most words you encounter, you will have seen on wk. But will you recognize them at first when they are only written in hiragana? That’s a different story
The main barrier to reading comprehension is grammar, as opposed to vocabulary, I think. Vocabulary is relatively quick to look up if you don’t know it, whereas if you don’t understand a grammar point, that can take more effort to learn. Of course, the more vocabulary and kanji knowledge you have, the easier it will be to tease out meaning from a sentence, but if you haven’t been studying grammar as well, that is the biggest barrier, in my opinion.
I joined the Absolute Beginner Book Club (at the time, the selected book was Teasing Master Takagi-san) at around mid-20s in WK, and armed with knowledge of most N5 and N4 grammar points, having studied using videos like those from Cure Dolly or, more commonly (the voice of Cure Dolly was just too grating for me), Japanese Ammo with Misa.
I recommend to join one of the book clubs whenever you start to read; it’s been the single most helpful thing in jumpstarting my learning. Of course, this is only true if the selected book catches your interest, as caring about what you are reading means you’ll be more determined and patient in figuring out meaning.
Also keep in mind that if a book you want to read has been selected as a club in the past, you can always post in the threads anyway, even if the club is technically finished with the book. Often, people will have the threads set to watching and will be happy to come back and answer any questions you may have!
Imo, the issue is if you don’t have the most common vocabulary down, is that while grammar might be harder to look up, there are way fewer grammar points, and especially way fewer common grammar points than words being used. So you might spend a lot of time on looking up grammar, but you will memorize those faster, than the hundreds of words coming your way every book. For example I’m mainly struggling with words, having to look them up pretty often, but grammar is rarely an issue
I guess that goes to show it’s a bit different for everyone! Grammar was my biggest struggle when I first started to read, and vocabulary always came fairly easily to me.
Even now, if I don’t know a word, 9 times out of 10, I can guess the meaning and look it up to confirm later. Some grammar points I can do that with, also, but there are also some that I just am not totally sure of their role in a sentence, and I actually have to stop and look it up to figure out what is meant. Vocabulary just doesn’t, and didn’t, slow me down the same way at all.
That is to say, I do agree that if you are missing a bunch of basic vocabulary for whatever topic the book covers, that will make it a lot slower and a lot more difficult, so both can definitely be troublesome.
I’m gonna be real with you. Reading manga is not all about kanji, not even mostly, it’s about grammar and vocabulary. While WaniKani does help with the vocab, there are a lot of common words that don’t come up here.
I’d recommend starting whatever you want to read/watch and using that as practice.
I think people usually recommend level 10 to start reading.
Grass is not greener on the other side, but rather, it is sparse – that is, gain decreases for Kanji.
As I see, grammar is required to make sense, segment the sentences, and pick up vocabularies at all. A lot vocabularies are still required, even if they are not in Kanji, or in Kanji with random long readings (probably plus Okurigana).
Still, Kanji foundation does help with guessing meaning for new vocabularies (that WaniKani don’t teach), even if they are spoken (not written). But of course, not so much with grammar.
Another thing is, knowing too many Kanji before everything else can backfire too – not really knowing the depth of Jukugo vocabularies, nor focused on the full meaning of the sentences. That is, superficial reading; and can’t read less complex stuff as well (as natives won’t put in as many Kanji).