Want to Play Pokemon

One of my primary motivations for learning Japanese is that Japan is the center of the universe for many of the things I love. Anime, video games, trading cards, manga… all of it comes from Japan. One of my dreams has always been to play through a Pokemon game in Japanese. I’m wondering what level I would expect to be on Wani Kani to recognize 75% or more of the kanji (even at an excruciatingly slow pace). I have a great deal of patience for this kind of thing; when I was learning Spanish I read through Harry Potter and Twilight books after only two semesters by using a Spanish dictionary and a Barron’s verb book to help me with the verb tenses I didn’t always recognize.

Many thanks for your insights and advice!


Well, there’s actually a prompt to opt out of the kanji and play it with hiragana/katakana only, so you could always do that. But if you wanted to play through with the kanji @ a 75% recognition rate, I’d take a wild guess at level 25-30. Considering you’re only at level 2, I don’t want to discourage you, but that’s just my guesstimate. You could, of course, go through it the way you did with Harry Potter in Spanish, and use Japanese dictionaries to look things up, that’s up to you.

There’s also this thread: Translating Pokemon Black (Until First Gym) - 31% Done

I’d encourage you to take a look. It’s kind of right along what you’re trying to do.


Thanks for the response! I have previously gotten to around level 7 but recently started over because I took some time away and it made it hard to get back into it. I didn’t know about freezing my account, and i just felt underwater so I took the nuclear option and started fresh.

I understand that leveling time has changed over the last year or so, but I gather I can expect to level up roughly every ten days if I take things at a human pace, right? I also don’t know if levels go more quickly or more slowly at the beginning. But assuming that pace, I’d reach level 18 by the time Pokemon comes out in November, and if I go even just a little bit faster, I could be 2-3 levels higher and come in at the low twenties.

I definitely want to play with the kanji; that is the entire point of learning all of these! And while wanikani is engaging enough on its own, being able to apply what I’m learning to one of my goals would be a huge boon too.

I think it would be really neat to experience this for the first time in Japanese, but I could also always play it in English first (I’m a Pokemon freak, so when the first main-series title to hit the switch comes out I can’t wait to play) and then go back and play it in Japanese later on. I just don’t want to end up leaning too hard on my knowledge of the plot from an English playthrough, if that makes sense.

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I’d agree with this, and would encourage you to play it through Japanese on your first time. Assuming you endup playing again in English later on, you can grade yourself on how much you actually understood through your first (blind) Japanese playthrough – I think that has a lot more value to it than doing English then Japanese.

Correct, give or take a day. The speed at which you can level varies on the level you’re at – some levels you can level-up in 7 days, some 9, some 5, it depends, but in general, a 9-10 day pace can be achieved relatively easily.

Sorry to hijack the thread but I just came back and I didn’t know the levels’ duration had changed. Can you point me to where the update is explained pls?

I just saw in some other thread that the way radicals progress changed and therefore it got slowed down some. I don’t know where to direct you, sorry! =[

I also want to play the new game in japanese and as you can see we are barely at the same level.

Let’s do it!

(Do you have any previous knowledge of grammar? Even if you understand the kanji without grammar is quite hard to understand things correctly, even tho most people recommend starting grammar when you reach level 10)

Just keep in mind that the Pokémon games do not have any furigana (which would indicate how to read the kanji in the game). It’s preferable to play with the kanji option (even without furigana) rather than the hiragana/katakana version, since there are a lot of homonyms in Japanese (words that read the same but don’t mean the same – kanji are there to distinguish them).

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This guy has a series of videos for learning Japanese through Pokemon games.


The level-up time actually decreased semi-recently, so people are able to level up faster now. Previously, reviews to Guru your kanji would appear after 3 days, but now that review occurs after 2 days, thus saving people a day in levels.

Also, the first couple levels are faster than usual due to their halved SRS intervals. You can complete them in 3-4 days, though it all depends on the rate at which you do your lessons and reviews.

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I agree with the reasoning and in general for working on overall reading comprehension, but playing in kana-only (which is the only option for imported games before gen 5 I think) has definitely made me a bit less reliant on visual recognition of the kanji, and instead remembering the words as a whole. I still have a ways to go, but I think it can be useful if you find yourself sounding out the on’yomi of each kanji to get the reading too often, as opposed to associating the reading it with the entire word/meaning.

I like to think it also will help in listening for similar reasons, but I don’t actually practice that or play Pokemon enough to make that assertion.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire (to use an existing game for reference) has over 37,000 kanji, but is actually comprised of only about 837 unique kanji, 826 of which are covered by WaniKani.

Getting to WaniKani level 10 teaches you about 25% of the unique kanji in Alpha Sapphire. At level 21, you’ll know just about 50% of the unique kanji in the game. Level 36 gets you over the 75% mark. When you reach level 60, two of the kanji covered in WaniKani will round you out at knowing 98.69% of the individual kanji in Alpha Sapphire.

The remaining 11 kanji are (with a sample sentence from the game):
  • 慌 「さすがの ホムラさんも て ふためいて しまいましたよ」
  • 楼 「ポケモン勝負とは 砂上の閣!」
  • 灼 「この すさまじい 熱は ルネの 上空にある 熱球を 中心に 広がっているのか……」
  • 煌 「輝く お日様……? めく ビーチ……?」
  • 絆 「そう アタシと ポケモンの とっても 強いんだ!」
  • 臆 「……いいか コンマ1秒も すること なく グラードンの 背中に 飛び乗るのだ!」
  • 蓋 「ここで メシが 出てくるとき ってよお ヘンな 鉄のに 入ってるだろ?」
  • 蘇 「現世に らせるのだッ!!!」
  • 賜 「なん……じ 我が 願いを 何卒 何と…ぞっ かなええ…っ……」
  • 蹴 「だれかが マグマ団を 散らしてくれた らしいんだ!」
  • 逐 「駆せよ」

Edit: It looks like the individual WaniKani level that gives you the most knowledge for Alpha Sapphire is…level 5, which covers 3.46% of the game’s unique kanji.


Knowing at least N5 and a good amount of N4 grammar cannot be stressed enough. Or else, be prepared to spend a lot of time learning it early on in the game (which is okay if you keep at it and don’t give up).

Here’s a line from Pokemon Alpha Sapphire:

「こんにちは! 花を 世界に 広める フラワーショップ サン・トウカです!」

  • 花 (level 4: flower)
  • 世界 (level 9: the world)
  • 広 (level 3: wide)

Grammar to know: particles を and に, as well as that the words containing the kanji are modifying the noun フラワーショップ.

「花を世界に広める」 = “spreading flowers to the world”.

In English I might go with, “Hello! The flower shop spreading flowers to the world, San Touka!” (This is the Pretty Petal flower shop in on Route 102. Laziness is getting the better of me on starting up the English version of the game to check what it says.)

this is an incredibly helpful post!

(also wow, WK doesn’t teach kirameki or kizuna? kinda surprised! but it’s vocab you’ll pick up really quick if you read/play… like, anything lol)

I know, right? (= me pretending like these are words/kanji I know, and everyone knows)

Actually, きらめき is one I’m sure I’ve encountered watching various anime, but I otherwise don’t know/recognize it. The kanji 煌 isn’t on the jyouyou list, so that may be why WaniKani doesn’t cover it.

I’m not familiar with きずな, but 絆 appears about 15 times in Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, which is enough to convince that I should learn it…one day, in the eventual future. Maybe. If I come across it a few times.

Actually maybe I mostly see Kirameki in hiragana, come to think of it. I associate it with things for children, so that would make sense.

Kizuna is everywhere though, in games and anime, but also in real life. It’s common to see it on signs in schools, or for students to write about building bonds with their classmates and stuff.

(it’s also the name of my favorite character in the Shield Hero novels, so it has a special significance for me!)

Where did you get all this data? It’s awesome! Did you translate all of Alpha Sapphire or something?

If you really want to play, and the option to play with hiragana only exists, I’d go for that. But you will have to have some grammar knowledge to process the meaning.

I didn’t know themeaning of 広める but still the worst part was reading and understanding all that katakana :sweat_smile:

Also it’s the first time I see this kind of expresion so thanks for explaining it!

My grammar is still around N5 level so… might need to improve on that.

As many have said in this thread, Wanikani covers most kanji you can find in the game but what about vocabulary ? In my short reading experience I noticed that vocabulary is what I lack the most.

I suggest finding a way to learn the most frequent words in the game in addition to Wanikani.