*some* Radicals are bs

Don’t get me wrong on this one. I love the concept of radicals.

However, WaniKani completely fails in two kinds of ways:

  1. Why are there radicals of Kanji you learned before?
    Sometimes you learn radicals that are complete copies of Kanji you learned before. Why is it necessary to teach you a new radical when the SRS should ensure that the Kanji is already known. From level 10 onwards every third radical or so is just a copy. And there even is an easy way to fix this: Let Kanji be part of other Kanji. For me learning these radicals is a complete waste of time and I’m sure WK is competent enough to implement a way for Kanji to show up in the “Radicals” screen upon learning new Kanji. What is even worse is that some radical names don’t have the same meaning as the Kanji (Like with anti and devil).

  2. Why are some radicals unnecessarily complicated?
    The best example for this is ‘eat’. You learn the radical only for the Kanji eat, which is the same. This completely defeats the purpose of radicals. Shouldn’t radicals be the building blocks of the Kanji you learn? You could easily build ‘eat’ from the radicals ‘kick’, ‘sun’, ‘hat’ and ‘drop’. Yes, this may be also complicated but this way ‘good’ could also be a part of ‘eat’. You could build up ‘good’ from ‘kick’ and ‘sun’ and afterwards ‘eat’ from ‘good’ and ‘hat’. Also with the same fix I proposed above, the complexity could be further reduced.

I’m just scraping the surface on the issues of WaniKani. I’m not hating on WK here, I love the tool and the community, however, as time goes on I see so much room for improvement.


I think building a mnemonic from very many radicals would be really hard and confusing. Especially when you get to many stroked kanji.


Not that I necessarily disagree with you overall about the radical system (which from what I’ve heard they are making significant changes to), but it’s worth pointing out that ‘eat’ actually is in several other kanji. You just haven’t gotten to them yet. The point of the radical system in wanikani is so that every kanji you learn is made up entirely of wanikani radicals, which then have corresponding mnemonics associated with them. Based on that definition, it makes sense that there are some kanji in the lower levels that are entirely made up of one wanikani radical.

That being said, I personally do not really use the wanikani mnemonics system much. I usually ignore it unless the story is particularly strange and I can’t help but remember. Either way, it’s more the curated content levels and SRS system that are useful for me. If you feel like the radical system is not working for you, you could always just ignore it.


Yes, I know that eat is a part of other Kanji, this does not make my argument less important. If you followed my recomendation, eat would no longer be a radical on its own. Instead, as soon as you guru’d the Kanji eat, you would unlock all Kanji based on the radical eat (like drink)(assuming you unlocked the level) too.

The mnemonic system is also great idea, but not so well implemented. But this doesn’t belong to the topic though.

Like I said I hate learning useless stuff, and there are many improvements WK could make.

Yeah, some of the radicals are dumb. However, they comprise barely five and a half percent of all the items on WaniKani and take literally half as long to learn as anything else. It’s easy enough to add a synonym if you disagree with the name given.


Calling someone else’s work bs is not the best way to give feedback. You can criticize the work and talk about the flaws or what you don’t like without being rude. Someone put a lot of effort into it.


most radicals i just make up my own way of remembering it through a different synonym

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Well this is useful for example for not messing up on your reviews, you already have knowledge of the meaning of the component, so you’re less likely to fail… at least for me is a way to “control” the flow of Kanji thrown at you. And because some of them are really that important…

hmmmm… well because historically it means eat on itself. This is an evolution of a pictogram depicting a mouth over a bowl of food… and it’s really relevant to know, because it also gives the kanji meaning, just as the kanji meaning moon, which is also a radical and is also using as meat gives the idea that the meaning is related to some flesh or organ… just like that when you see the whole component meaning eat, then you know that is going to be related to food.

So particularly on that example, this is why it’s actually useful to present it as a whole… just because it is important.

I’m actually more in disagree with radicals here named as kick, superman, ent, and so on… because pretty much every radical has a historical meaning, and for me it begets confusion, but it’s a hard work and as said here before is something that they’re working on

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I think the benefits are twofold:

  1. Radicals that are replicas of kanji you have learned shorten the length of future mnemonics, making them less complicated. If a radical is made up of a complicated mnemonic and that mnemonic isn’t replaced by its kanji, future kanji with that radical are going to by stupidly over-complicated.

  2. Another point is that kanji used as mnemonics further cements the kanji into ones memory.

On the down side, sometimes I remember the individual radicals and not the replacement kanji radical which means I can’t identify the character in my review - which does suck :slight_smile:

"Remembering the Kanji progresses in the way you mentioned. Once you learn the kanji, you unlock all related kanji. There are benefits to the system for sure, maybe check it out on youtube in wanikani isn’t working for you.

Saying that, I prefer wanikani’s SRS and simple interface. It’s not perfect but what it’s already done for me in a relatively short time is incredible.


They’re retooling the radicals.

This has been in the works for a long time.

Because it is a huge thing that requires a ton of effort.

One day they will release it and we can get some different complaints.


One could make it so that every kanji you have learned automatically becomes a radical (with the same meaning as the kanji), that you never ever have to review. Is that what you propose… something along those lines? That would make it more efficient. But I don’t think efficiency is everything. It is really important, but not all there is. The gamification is also important. You have a natural flow of the levels. You get some kanji and some radicals, and when you complete the radicals you get a second wave of kanji. And when those are gurued you complete the level. There are a couple of vocabs that aren’t particularly efficient either. Top of mind is “three machines” and “42nd floor”. My point is, efficiency is important, but most important in general is to keep people engaged. I appreciate that you wish for wanikani to be better. There is lots of room for improvement for sure. But exactly how to go about it is probably more difficult than it seems at first glance.


I have a similar viewpoint to Raphael.

Many radicals are good. They carry meaning (or pronunciation) across multiple kanji. I could have learned the kanji directly, but the radicals help. That being said, I don’t think it justifies an entire radical system. Most of them should just be kanji with a couple additional notes on how they look and signify.

However, WK’s invented non-historical radicals, or radicals with totally bogus mnemonic, have been worse than useless to me. They don’t align with any learning or use anywhere outside of WK. It’s especially jarring given that I know a bit of Chinese, and I always have to check every radical to see if I can use my existing knowledge or if WK is gaslighting me.

This very strongly put me off of using WK in the earlier levels. Ultimately I decided to just grin and bear it, as the rest of the SRS system was still worthwhile, but I would be much happier if the BS radicals were eliminated.


This is not going to change. The radicals here are not the same as the kangxi radicals, and any new version will always have ones that are not in the kangxi radicals, because you can’t make every kanji from just the kangxi radicals, since they aren’t a list of all kanji components.

In other words, WK uses the word “radicals” because lots of places do, but they are just “components for use in mnemonics” and the complaints about them not aligning with kangxi radicals won’t have much impact on the staff.


I don’t deny that there are kanji components that are not traditional radicals, and I agree that some of them are interesting enough to pull out and identify separately. I don’t like the mnemonics on most of them, and every time they come up in a lesson I immediately stop in order to add my own mnemonics synonyms, but fine, I can live with that. Although I’d be happier if you could add mnemonics synonyms during lessons.

These are a minority of the useful radicals, though. And why is it necessary that all the components of a kanji are introduced before the kanji itself? Learning works the other way around too.

I’m looking forward to your kanji learning site :wink:


Yeah and also I literally use the ignore button every time I get a radical wrong because it’s just not that big of a deal. I still find them to be useful on the whole

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Yeah you do see some inside joke stuff like “42nd floor” which is a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference. “Three”+counter also makes sense to me for the most part because of the rendaku in “300”, but the “three machines” one is a bit arbitrary as well.

Me too :slight_smile:

In all seriousness, making my own learning resources for kana was a big stepping stone for me early on. Kanji will take a little while longer, may depend on how vexed I get at WK…

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To OP: The radicals in WK are used for pacing. There are just not enough graphical elements to fill more then 10–20 levels, all later radicals are another kanji and kanji are formed from kanji and a “real radical”. It is a fundamental principle of kanji.

I would like to see 2, max. 3 parts in each kanji. Look for example at , everyone should see that dividing it into 冫+疑 is better than splitting it into a bazillion parts just because you don’t want to reuse kanji.

People are whining that the kanji in WK are soo irrelevant. If you start with the basics of the compounds you will see more of that. WK gives priority to JLPT levels and the ordering in the school curriculum over kanji construction (arguably it’s very easy to learn the kanji when you got the radical with the right meaning).

In principle yes, although this is more than occasionally violated on WK. On the other hand I think 4 has been the max I’ve seen so far.