Question about visual novels

Hi everyone I was wondering what level I need to be at to be able to start reading visual novels in Japanese?


You don’t need to be a specific level to read visual novels (or anything else, for that matter). What’s more important is your grasp on grammar and your tolerance for lookups and leaving things unknown, both vocab- and grammar-wise—and then, how comfortable you are with any specialized vocabulary in the specific VN you want to read (and, again, your tolerance for lookups and leaving things unknown for that). A modern romance VN vs a mystery/detective VN vs a fantasy VN are all gonna have different specialized vocab. A samurai-era VN will also likely have some older grammar as well.

Really the only way to know if you’re ready is to just give it a go. Then, too, you’ll see if you have any areas you want to work on before you pick it back up if you decide it’s too much for you right now. Reading is its own skill that’s very different from learning words and grammar in a virtual vacuum.


In addition to everything @enbyboiwonder said, we also have a Visual Novel Club here in the forums, so make sure to check them out:

They are currently voting on the next visual novel they will read together, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this as everybody helps each other with any questions that may come up. Also, the visual novels that are currently being voted on have been proposed with a short description and (I think) a rough difficulty assessment, so you can get a better impression on what to expect.

Enjoy! :+1:


Hey, I made that aforementioned VN club (thanks @NicoleIsEnough ) – one of the biggest things I’d recommend is looking into the tools available to make reading VNs easier and more useful for learning. We have a guide in that club under resources to setting up texthooking, a way to get instant word definitions, and if you like making anki flashcards, you can even get them instantly created.


Thanks for the replies everyone . i’m not quite sure how text hooking works, but I will try to figure it out .


It’s not the most intuitive thing to do, and unfortunately some VNs simply won’t support it, but a lot will. If you have trouble, feel free to ask in that thread and I’m sure someone will help.

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If you haven’t looked into it already, you can use to see a word list of different VN’s, books, games whatever. You can sort by difficulty. The easiest VN still requires a lot of vocab.

You’ll notice that you need around level 20-30 for a large portion of vocabulary. And additionally, you will notice that many words use what Wanikani teaches Kanji wise, but not the actual vocab word. So you can add it to kamesame for study if you want to pre study before attempting a VN…

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I was about your level when I started. If you want to, id say go for it.

Be prepared to struggle a lot, but know that’s not a bad thing. Good luck!


thanks, for the advice and website

thank you for the encouragement

Level 1! Just start and look up what you need. Obviously its easier the higher level you are but I wouldn’t recommend waiting around until you think you’re at the right level to start reading. If you did that you would lose all the info you got from WK and would have to basically start over. There is no better time than the present.

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Level one? Unless you’re already fluent speaking, that doesn’t make sense.

And idk what you mean by “lose” everything from wani kani. Again, if you aren’t fluently speaking you wont know an enormous amount of vocabulary required to read any type of native content without looking up every other word. If you do that, it’s just flat out discouraging.

Using SRS through kame same is the best way to retain and recall what’s learned here on wanikani that I have seen yet.

It doesn’t hurt to try while you’re learning. Being fluent at speaking wouldn’t make you fluent at reading either, its a different skill. Lose everything as in you won’t remember the stuff you learned in the early levels if you never used them or will have a harder time recalling it.

If you know where you are on the spectrum of learning knowing you don’t know anything is very different than going in and expecting to know everything when you don’t. I started reading My Hero not having a really good grasp on grammar, but picked up a lot by just starting to read alongside my study and it would retroactively click if I didn’t try looking it up on the spot (usually I did look it up on the spot though for Anki).

SRS only gets you so far in that you are practicing recalling what you learned here, but using it is why you’re doing it in the first place. Don’t get suckered into believing only doing flashcards will get you to fluency.

EDIT: There are plenty of success stories of people using VNs to get them to high levels of reading comprehension.


I mean, I started reading two months before I found WK. I had some scattered, mostly rudimentary knowledge picked up over the years, mostly from anime and character songs of all things, but I absolutely was nowhere near fluent (and my listening and speaking were and still are much worse than my reading), and I had zero formal learning beyond teaching myself kana in high school from a textbook borrowed from a friend and then never touched again, and my grammar was atrocious. But I picked a story I was interested in and was excited to read (from a series I love, although these characters were all new to me), and yes it was difficult and no I didn’t understand much more than the gist (if even that, in places) and yeah I probably spent at least as much time looking things up as I did reading, but it was really rewarding and I actually understood more than I thought I would, which was really exciting. After that, I was hooked.

Will everyone be able to do that? Absolutely not. That was a special case with me, and probably the best-case scenario if you start reading early. But WK level doesn’t really mean anything except how much of WK you’ve completed; it’s not an indication of how much Japanese you know or how ready you are to engage with native content. Someone who’s lv 30 on WK could be better at reading in Japanese than someone who’s lv 60 because they started reading earlier and/or read more. Knowing kanji definitely makes it easier to read, yes, but it doesn’t actually allow you to read, since reading is its own skill. It’s a completely different beast than SRSing kanji and random vocab in a vacuum. What’s too early to start reading isn’t inherent to any WK level, but rather dependent on the individual in question.

Worst-case scenario, you try reading at a low level and you find that you are absolutely not ready yet and are in way over your head. But then you’ll have a better idea of what you actually need to get started, and you can work on those areas before trying again down the line. You’ll know what to expect, which will make it easier the next time you make the attempt.


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