Urgent review

hi everyone,im on first level but n4, heard a lot about wanikani but not sure about full subscription because im a student, living in a country suffering from dollar inflation, so i have to save up money. but if its worth it i’d invest in every single thing i have. i need an honest review on wanikani. youtube videos are not reliable. so far im doing well but if you’re halfway through here or higher etc, please let me know about your experiences. i hope i’m not violating any rules by asking that. thank you!

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Hi there! My first question is what are your goals for learning Japanese? That may help others who find themselves in similar situations answer your question.

For me, I’m learning Japanese for fun. I bought the lifetime subscription because I see this as a lifetime endeavor, which I can reset if needed. It took me a year and a half maybe to get up to level 60, and I’m slowly whittling things away and resetting individual vocabulary as I see fit. WK has helped me be able to read simple manga (Prince of Tennis) and play visual novels (again, Prince of Tennis) but I still am weak in listening and speaking practice. Also, while I can read simple things, my grammar is still very weak. There are other tools available for those.

That being said, I really found WK to be useful because it accomplished two of my main goals, to be able to read manga and play video games (albeit easy ones lol). But I know other things like textbooks, Bunpro, having a tutor, etc. are going to fill in the gaps that WK doesn’t.


There’s plenty of free resources that do what WK do but you have to put a bit more work in yourself. I’m in a fortunate position where the monthly sub isn’t a huge expense to me so I’m willing to pay WK for the convenience it provides.

WK is really good at what it does however I don’t think it’s an essential tool especially if money is potentially an issue (it would probably one of the first luxuries I’d cut out if I had to). You can set up Anki and download decks that copy everything off the WK website (you’re also not gated from learning new things if that’s your bag).

WK is also not a one stop shop, it’s purpose is to teach you kanji. You still need to study vocab, grammar, listening, speaking, reading etc etc (depending on your goals of course) which WaniKani is not designed to do.


Try contacting support. No guarantees, but they might be able to help with cases like these.


Thank you so much :blush: it’s pretty good explanation.

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Oh right! Thank you :blush:

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I was learning for fun too, Thank you for explaining and recommendations, recently I just found out I can understand anime without subtitles and i can read manga :joy: it just boosts my mood and I’m taking it seriously now.


Sounds like you already have a certain proficiency in Japanese? I think WK could be below your level.

It’s designed as a beginning tool to learn kanji, starting from essentially zero. If you’re at a point where you’re reading manga and watching anime, you’ll probably end up wasting 10 months just getting WK up to your level.


lvl 1 I had the same questions,

but after hitting lvl 3 I realized that was the studying method I have been looking for many many years and subscribed for a year (I just hit my second year here in WK).

So wait for the next 2 levels and if you like the srs.


Exactly this is what I’m afraid of! But I’ll hit the level 3 and I’ll decide :slight_smile:


:heart: thank you ! So far I like it though ! I’ll decide after level 3. Thank you for the explanation :blush:

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while youtube reviews arent all that reliable, coming to WK forums asking about what people here think about WK will be quite biased as well - if people didnt like this service they wouldnt stick with it (granted we have few people who use just the forums without doing/liking WK)

Although i think WK is the best tool to get into learning kanji period, i wasnt financially limited when i got into learning jp. Anki and other SRS tools are only slightly worse than WK (at least in my opinion - they still have their own strengths and eventually its best to use Anki for vocab anyways, its just harder to stick with them because its a bit uglier and it requires some customisation unlike WK which requires very little effort) and if using WK instead of them would meant big change in my lifestyle, i wouldnt think long about my choices.

I paid over $1000 for tools, textbooks and immersion methods and out of all of that, WK would be very high on my list for stuff to replace just because of how easily it can be replaced - i see it as luxury, not neccessity.

Feel free to try those 3 free levels to gauge if you even like the system, maybe even check peoples level 60 posts - theres a whole category for that here where plenty of people described their journey through WK or learning japanese in general (me included), this one especially My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK 📖 ) , but i would personally lean towards not buying something you cant afford that has free alternatives (or at least tried anki first to really confirm its not for me)


Thank you it helped a lot 🫶🏻

WaniKani has a sale around Christmas time where subscription prices are significantly lower. (I used it to convert my year subscription into a lifetime subscription last year.) I recommend focusing on finishing the 3 free levels first, then worry about paying later.

When I started with the free levels of WK, I did a lot of research to try to find out how good WK was, how fast people complete it (speed run vs slower pace), which subscription tier they picked, etc. I really thought that I had everything figured out, but reading someone’s experience VS experiencing it yourself are very different. (EX: I thought I could speed run, which I did in the beginning, but “life” kept happening to me/slowing me down.) In my opinion, there’s a big difference in difficulty/workload between 1-3, 4, 1-10 (Pleasant levels), and 11+ (Painful levels).

I really like WaniKani even though I passed N2 recently and already know a lot of the kanji. I read Heisig’s “Remembering the Kanji” in the past, but it doesn’t teach pronunciation. WaniKani has a lot of funny stories to help remember radicals/kanji/vocab/pronunciation.

There are free alternatives such as Anki decks with mnemonics similar to WK, but the thing that I enjoy the most from WK is Third Party API. The add-ons you can get make WK even more fun/easier to use. My top favorite ones are WK Dashboard Cockpit, Back To Back, and WaniKani Show Specific SRS Level in Reviews. But there are many more that affect the appearance and information of the dashboard, lessons, reviews, and forum.


You’re amazing :star_struck: thank you for sharing your experience 🫶🏻

This. From higher level users I’d expect mostly recommendations.
There are multiple ways of learning kanji. For me, WaniKani worked because I need the computer to tell me if I got the answer wrong or right (with Anki decks you have to indicate this yourself, and similarly with book/list based methods). The SRS keeps throwing reviews back at you, so after doing the lessons, the system determines what to look at, rather than having you decide for yourself what to rehearse and what not to repeat. (This is the same with tools like Anki but not with book/list based methods). Again something I needed.

With prior knowledge of kanji, following the strict sequence of WaniKani can be frustrating in the early levels. While I’ve heard from other users that this quickly fades, and that a refresher doesn’t hurt, those are of course again people that stick with it!
Then of course there are WaniKani’s mnemonics. I found myself relying quite heavily on them initially, but less so in the later levels (although I have used them throughout).

At this point, when dealing with the official proficiency tests, I’m pretty much unperturbed by the kanji portion (I’m still sorely lacking in other areas though). Do note that WaniKani teaches kanji recognition. It does not teach recall nor writing.


While I love WaniKani and would absolutely recommend it, if someone is struggling financially, then I can’t find it in me to do so. Like said above, Anki does exist. With WaniKani you’re pretty much paying for structure.


thank you all for kindly sharing your experiences and recommendations. i got all the answers i need . :pray:

It’s probably a best and easily approachable Kanji learning tool, as far as I know. Vocabularies reinforce Kanji learning very well. However, I am quite critical of it.

Perhaps some of my criticisms would be

  • Reliance on English-based mnemonics, probably even American-centric. I think it might be a better idea to try to connect to other Japanese words, especially at higher levels.
    • Vocally, Japanese-based mnemonic might be better.
    • I believe Kanji and Radicals can be considered for connecting to Japanese words as well.
    • There aren’t only English speakers using the website. And sometimes English speakers as well pronounce differently.
  • English-based meanings that are strictly pre-defined. Synonyms can be added, but they would be unchecked. In the end, English meanings are less relevant at some levels in actual reading, anyway.
  • On the website, Userscripts are a lot, but they break easily if aren’t actively maintained. Wanikani team continually update the website, and occasionally silently. Mobile apps, which aren’t maintained by Wanikani team (third-party), usually have most requested features, so don’t suffer from this.

What I like

  • Simple SRS system. Easier to comprehend of the progress than Anki.
    • Check out kitsun.io as an Anki alternative.
  • Level-based, so easy to understand if some progress has been made.
    • Not really though. Burned Kanji along with totally burned related vocabularies, may miss some useful readings, and sometimes meanings.
  • Strictness
    • But this is a double-edged sword. Mistyping with wrong meanings can be done until Burned as well. Even with correct typing, English words can sometimes be misunderstood, understood in a different way, or just forever misread.

you’re amazing ! ikr mnemonics are english based , i’m not native but almost native english speaker. so they make sense :slight_smile:
reviews were important to me for the right decision, also it works great i love the teaching methods i noticed i read and speak faster, plus i have extra vocab. so i’ll subsribe without hesitation :slight_smile: