WaniKani vs Anki

This thread has a ton of links to Japanese-learning resources, including a dozen or so sites that are specifically for kanji. I think most of them are free?

1 Like

Of course not. And you are free to create an Anki deck consisting of all the kanji that WK uses.

What you are not free to do is steal WaniKani’s intellectual property. The mnemonics, the meaning explanations, the reading explanations, the audio, anything that is their creation is the sole property of WaniKani and has been illegally scraped and stolen for the Anki deck in question.

The reason this matters to the rest of us, is that WaniKani has gone the extra mile to publish an API that grants users with a subscription to their entire catalog and the community has used this API to do some great things that enhance our usage of the tool without stealing WaniKani’s property. If property theft became a problem for WaniKani, they’d be more likely to restrict API usage to only items that a user has unlocked, or even worse, turn off access to the API entirely (which would completely break the 3rd party mobile clients), which would be unfortunate for the entire community.


Could I resume your post into “even if creating a anki deck following the wanikani path is legal, this may make wanikani apply restrictions on every account” ?
If I’m right you may know wk far more than I do, I can’t predict if that type of reaction would be preferred. I was just arguing about the legal aspect. I’m not sure but it seems to me that following the same path is legal. That said, intellectual property is sometimes inadapted (it is possible to claim that someone stole harmony, chord or melody in music) and it is quite possible for me to be wrong.

If understand correctly, here the problem is that someone scraped WaniKani’s item database (possibly via the web API) as-is. One could argue WaniKani doesn’t own individual words and kanji, but if the order of items is the same and on top of this the Anki deck contains WaniKani mnemonics, that’s ground enough for AnkiWeb to suspend or delete the infringing deck.


Thanks you, I dont know anki that much, so I wasn’t aware that it was possible to copy the wanikani’s mnemonics (thought there was not enough space to put all that text).
As I said earlier, I fully understand that Wanikani own their mnemonics, and maybe the order is part of their intellectual property.
That said, it would be quite strange to copy the mnemonics too (I’m not saying nobody did), as there are intricated in wanikani level system. As for I know, and I can be wrong again, anki does only have the “review” section. It seems to consider you to have seen the content of the deck. Wanikani, on the other hand, make you learn new radicals before going in depth with associated kanjis.
I resume what I said (I writed too much) : the mnemonics being linked to wanikani level system, a deck using it in anki may be quite uninteresting. And I just realized someone said that higher, sorry.

1 Like

IIRC you can still browse the levels and all items without a subscription. So I don’t think this counts as stolen content.

Yes, Anki lets you do a lot with the design of individual flashcards - you can attach audio files, images, etc. (basically anything that’s supported by I think latex and/or HTML), but in the end it’s just a flashcard app - there is no strict level progression and content gating to make the learning process less overwhelming which I think WaniKani does really well.


I think it would be cool if WaniKani could offer some kind of student discount down the line. I don’t think it’s a good idea to run afoul of copyright (and I question the wisdom of mentioning that you intend to do so on the original developer’s forum), but I’m not going to judge when I remember my own days as a broke, starving college student.

If you’re going to use Anki, then the smartest thing you can do at your stage is make your own deck from scratch. Especially if you’re taking Japanese classes at your college. You might look at pre-made decks to get an idea of how you should structure your cards, but making flashcards is a legitimately useful sub-skill anyway. You could use this kanji list if you want some structure.

I obviously don’t know your parents, but I don’t see any reason not to at least float the idea to them. If you’re an American college student, your college years are going to cost you a lot more than $485 anyway. In the grand scheme of ways for a college student to spend $90 in a year, this seems like one of the least worrying.

EDIT: Also, start doing immersion practice. You will hate it at first but it’s good for you.

1 Like

Not true. You can read WaniKani’s policy on this here


This is not how copyright works (aka intellectual property rights, IP). Just because you can view something for free, doesn’t mean you are free to copy it and do whatever you want with it. WK’s content (such as mnemonics and reading/meaning explanations) are their copyright/IP, and this means that copying it and making a publicly available anki-deck from it (without permission) is definitely copyright infringement/IP theft. So unless WK’s ToS or policies state somewhere that you are free to use their content to create derivate works or transformational works (or someone have asked and received permission to do so), it is stolen content.

Just because something is available on the web, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want with it.


Level up emails? I never got those, only a daily ‘you have 29493 reviews to do’ mails :slight_smile:


I think you are perfectly fine just using anki decks. WaniKani is helpful, but you do not need it. The important part is to find something that builds up little by little. WaniKani does that, but so does the Kodansha Kanji book and probably some other anki decks. Just pick whatever works for you.

1 Like

I guess I could speak up as one of the ones who uses KKLC/Anki over WK after trying both. And from that perspective, I would agree with others NOT to use the scraped WK deck on Anki. The value I get from reviewing kanji in Anki is creating my own cards and learning kanji for vocab I already know (I use Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course mnemonics and method among other resources). I trialed both (KKLC and WK), and discovered they are subtly but fundamentally different methods with various pros/cons. KKLC is what works for me. But if I was going to use the WK method, then I would definitely pay for WK because of the structure and smooth experience; as others have said, this is where the value lies.

so @ManavGanesh great question. I’d say your best options for kanji are WK or get the Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Course book and use Anki. On the other hand, if you’re a complete beginner, then what I would really recommend is to get a textbook like Genki, work your way through it (volumes I and II plus workbooks). If you think it will take you 3-5 years to master kanji, then I suspect using that time for grammar/vocab instead, it will take you all of your college years to get through Genki I and II: Then when you get a job, you’ll be ready to buy WK and go through it efficiently alongside joining the book clubs. At that point (post Genki I & II), I think you’ll get through WK a lot faster and retain a lot more because you’ll also be reading. Just my 2 cents.

Ethically, my philosophy: choose what kind of world I want to live in and contribute to it. I want to get paid for my work, so I foster respect for creators. To do this I buy their work. If I can’t afford it, I don’t use copies, but look for other legitimately-free options. The great thing for Japanese learners: there are abundant high-quality, legitimately free or low cost options. For example, if Genki is too expensive, the online Marugoto course from the Japan Foundation is a similar curriculum and really well done, plus free. The Human Japanese app is well-done and low cost.


As it was said by many people previously, an Anki “WaniKani” deck with the exact same mnemonics, examples, and so on is certainly a copyright infringement. Putting that aside, and the fact that no one will stop you from using it, a WaniKani subscription is worth it, so much so.

As you say, Anki allows you to make your own design. In the same way that addons exist for WaniKani, so do they for Anki. However, adding audio, and pictures, if the premade deck doesn’t have them, is a pain, and it is really time-consuming. That being said, I’ve been using Anki for almost two years, yet I never felt the same satisfaction going through my daily reviews as I did with WaniKani.

I strongly agree. While you can personalize your Anki deck, doing your reviews and lessons on WaniKani just feels better. As you have said, WaniKani lessons are well made, with good mnemonics and interesting (and quite often funny) examples, and on top of that, you can follow your own schedule and the app’s system will adjust to it. You won’t have that with Anki.

Ultimately, it all comes down to how badly you want it, and what price you are willing to pay for your fluency. At the end of the day, you will most likely spend money on your way to proficiency… So why not spend your money wisely?

It is also what you make out of it. If you won’t use WaniKani regularly, then paying 9 bucks a month might be too much. However, you can tell your parents that the cheapest Netflix subscription is more than that. I believe it is a small price to pay for such excellent service, but it is all up to you.

1 Like

Fair point. However, I don’t think that should be an issue, since what matters is the quality of the arguments layed down. Besides, I don’t think we are necessarily making the argument that WK> Anki.
I think those two are different in what they are offering to you. WaniKani is more suited to those who have already learnt Kana and some basics but are still beginner and want to achieve literacy in the “easiest” way , with the most comprehensible lessons possible. (Even if WK is also great for those who just want to enhance their vocabulary /kanji knowledge , while already beginning advanced or fluent in Japanese).
In my opinion Anki requires some sort of experience in language (Japanese) learning in general. It is better suited for those who want a more personalized way of learning.
I am not trying to argue that complete beginner should not use Anki, but those with already solid foundations can utilize better Anki’s features.

I’m not agree with your last paragraphs. The author pointed the fact that price was very next to the expenses he could afford, depending on his parents he has to convince them, which they aren’t ready to pay for wk for now.
I’m not sure but what you said was “if you think your motivation worth 200$, pay 200$”. According to the op situation it seems that he cannot pay 200$. Maybe can he, but with difficulty.
What I say is quite obvious but don’t put yourself in a bad situation for an online tool. I may be wrong but I see wanikani as a strong bonus, some other ways exist, wanikani is just adapted to a lot of people. Wanikani can help you keep your motivation (I think about the level up), wanikani is thought to be easy to learn in, but wanikani is nothing more than a shortcut (and it depends on users).


I never said the mnemonics are good, though. I only implied the WaniKani app offers features which would be difficult to reproduce in Anki. I actually don’t like WaniKani’s mnemonics, because I find them oftentimes misleading and too reliant on a specific English pronunciation.


I might have been too superficial and you are correct in pointing this out. I didn’t mean to imply that you cannot learn without it. It is a very useful tool, one of the most useful I have used, but it remains one and you can learn kanjis and vocabulary without it.

Ultimately money cannot replace your motivation and effort you put into studying. And do go broke because of WK.

I will be closing this since this is approaching going against Goal 5 of the Community Guidelines. Since there is also some uncertainty about whether or not things like these are legal, I would recommend reading the WaniKani ToS to be sure.