WaniKani vs Anki

I recently found a WankiKani anki deck with all ~2200 kanji and ~6000 vocab. WaniKani is kinda expensive and my parents are gonna need some convincing to pay 90$ a year for WaniKani. The Anki deck works well, I just need to manually select ‘good’ or ‘again’ if I am right or wrong.
Is WaniKani REALLY worth it if i can just use the anki deck instead??
BTW i’m a college student so I have other things to do so I might take like 3-5 yrs to master Kanji
(that’s 270$-450$)

Is it even legal/ethical to use such a deck? Maybe it would be better to use a anki deck created from scratch instead of using one with stolen content.


it is copyright infringement but…it’s out there and… 200$+ is a lot

Setting aside the “is it legal/ethical” argument, you will not get the awesome level up emails with the Anki option and that’s just sad.

Wanikani is structured to teach you everything in a specific order that really helps. You have a set of radicals, a set of kanji, a set of vocab, kanji, vocab and back to radicals. The growth feels much more natural. It won’t do you any harm to work on an Anki deck. If you’re concerned about price, buy a one year subscription and wait to upgrade to lifetime come the sale around November - January.


There are multiple other decks for Japanese on anki, not everyone is illegal. There are also other sites that will help you with learning - maybe consider jpdb.io if you don’t want to pay?


What Wanikani offers is the service, which includes the lesson and review structure, the web interface, and an API.

If you’re going to use Anki, there are more efficient decks out there and you’re probably going to be spoiled for choice. But setting up the structure of how you use the deck is now up to you.


An Anki deck based on WK is kind of just giving you the worst of both worlds. WK’s strength is its structure as a service. Anki’s strength is its flexibility and customization. The combination would include more weaknesses than strengths. Give me a deck with thousands of sentences any day over either one of them though.


Piracy is everywhere. It cannot and it will never be stopped. Up to you if you wanna use it as no one is gonna stop you Lol.

Wk is absolutely worth it but if you can’t afford it you can do anki for now and come back later when you have the means :slight_smile:

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I’m a university student too. I tried out the monthly subscription for a little bit before committing. I waited until the yearly sale and upgraded to lifetime.

For me, WaniKani has been the most effective way to learn Kanji and words using Kanji. It feels more natural then memorizing out of textbooks (i.e. Genki) and more efficient than using the Heisig books. I would definitely recommend paying for the subscription. (maybe you could ask for it as a birthday / holiday gift, if you can’t afford it.)

There’s also the whole ethical thing about pirating the WaniKani course, but several people above me have addressed it.


I may be wrong but Wanikani is for teaching kanji with vocab added to reinforce the kanji. The anki deck teaches only vocab.

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Literally :joy: .

Looking back at it I would’ve gone probably with one of the sentence-based integrated decks with audio like the core 2.3K deck which might be a reasonable alternative for an early learner. Perhaps later using one of the core decks with more words.

However, Anki won’t provide the steady kanji difficulty progression, tailored mnemonics, a transparent review schedule with counts of reviews per day, etc. which one gets by using the WaniKani app :slight_smile: . It would be a little challenging to replace that I feel.


For sure. That’s why I said WK’s strength was its structure. That structure is certainly beneficial to a lot of new learners. The landscape of Japanese language learning is an unwelcoming frozen tundra strewn with stiff textbooks, test prep materials that aren’t necessarily the best for achieving fluency, game-ified apps that all park you just under the pre-intermediate level, grind-y flashcard decks, and conflicting and often bad advice.

In the face of all of that, a little structure goes a long way. WK is either the fastest thing you’ve ever used, or overly restrictive in the speed it allows you to progress at, with little in-between.


Anki doesn’t force you to output so you can just hit “good” whether you were right or not. That’s why I ultimately came back even though that option existed.

Anki is great but the way wanikani does it is better and more effective.

You can create cloze entries for Anki. Also, it should be stated that Anki is only as useful as your honesty in using it. If you’re marking things as easy that you don’t actually know, you’re just wasting your time.

WK provides a lot of structure, and it’s certainly effective for a lot of people, but that comes at the price of efficiency.


Wanikani for me is invaluable for learning kanji, it’s well worth as it slowly builds you up to more and more complicated kanji. Don’t undervalue their mnemonics either.

If you you have your own memorization techniques or like building your own mnemonics then

It works similar to wanikani and is free, has reviews (like wanikani) and space repetition, etc. Big plus is the general jpl lists they have defined and the ability to lookup and add words you come across to your study.

I have just started and it seems like a good mix, both wanikani and kamesame.

I am going for the lifetime subscription as others have mentioned here too.

If the deck contains any of the content developed by WaniKani that is associated with with any given Radical, Kanji, or Vocabulary, then no, it is not legal. WaniKani retains the copyright on all such material.

More info here WaniKani API Reference

If the deck only contains kanji and vocabulary, and the standard definitions therein as found in EDICT, then it is not illegal. as WaniKani does not own that material, but I’d say it is not ethical to clone their list, likely by scraping via the API, and then market it as a replacement for WaniKani.

WK is, IMHO, worth every cent. Especially if you buy the lifetime during the New Year discount. Tell your parents you want this for Christmas and then just slow walk the first three levels.


I just took a quick look at the first deck that popped up on a Google search. Won’t link to it here because I don’t want to give them extra publicity, but it is a complete scrape of WaniKani’s database.

Definitely a copyright violation as it steals all of their intellectual property. I am not WaniKani’s lawyer, heck I am not a lawyer at all, but if I were I’d give consideration to filing a complaint with AnkiWeb via the instructions found here https://ankiweb.net/account/terms. The first bullet point under the Acceptable Terms section clearly identifies the deck as not allowed on the service.


I’ve tried Anki for years before completely switching to WK.

What I found was that I was cheating and abusing the “good” button a lot. Whenever I was tired and just couldn’t bother I would just skip through the cards or say “well, I guessed it SOMEWHAT right.” or “I’m tired now, but I would have gotten that otherwise. I will just say ‘good’ and hope I’ll remember it next time.”

In the end, I got barely anything out of Anki in the years I’ve tried using it. I’ve made more progress on WK in the 4 months I’ve been actually using it than in 3+ years of Anki…

Just want to add that you came to a forum of people who actually already pay for WK, so answers will be biased. They are already convinced that WK > Anki in case of Kanji learning, I guess (I’m aware some users still use Anki too, but you get my point).


I feel that WaniKani is better structured better, e.g. by levels and what level means, and radical>kanji>vocabulary ordering. [1] While it might be possible to make such structure in Anki, the users themselves become responsible for it; so the idealized structure would easily collapse.

About typing in and computerized checking, I think it has pros and cons. Probably an idea is to allow double-check to change to wrong, but not to right? Being more strict is usually better.

Kitsun is almost akin to Anki, but also doesn’t have leveling up. UI and syncing is generally better, I think.

Also, Anki’s SRS algorithm and default settings are different from WaniKani. I would adapt to make it closer to WaniKani’s, but it’s impossible to be that similar, and has a few problems rather than what is intended by the creator of Anki. (Depends on the settings, filtered decks may break it.)

  1. I like (radical/vocabulary) => Kanji better, but oh, well. ↩︎