“Kanji are tough. Kanji are challenging. Kanji are mysterious and fun and maddening. Kanji comprise one of the great stumbling blocks faced by Westerners who want to become literate in Japanese. But kanji have nothing to do with grammar or sentence structure or thought patterns or the Japanese world view, and they are certainly not the Japanese language. They are just part of the world’s most clunky writing system, . . .
To this, I can only add that banana skins provide one of the best surfaces for writing kanji if one is using a ball-point pen. Since this book is intended to help with an understanding of the Japanese language, it will have nothing further to say about kanji.”
-Jay Rubin, Making Sense of Japanese
Wanikani isn’t going to teach you Japanese by itself. You should be doing some intensive grammar study right now to learn the actual language. Plenty of young Japanese children know Japanese quite well but know little to no kanji. Prior to the 20th century most Japanese people were, in fact, illiterate, but I’m told their Japanese was still quite good. There’s plenty of material aimed at younger or general audiences that you can read with only kana knowledge, provided your grammar and vocabulary are strong enough.
should I look at learning Kanji and learning Japanese as two seperate studies?
I would look at them as separate, but related. The more kanji you know the easier it is to find reading material you’re comfortable with and enjoy, which in turn helps you practice grammar and pick up more vocabulary. The more vocabulary you know the easier it is to relate it back to the kanji used to write it and remember those kanji. A language is composed of grammar and vocabulary, so to learn a language you need to study both together. In the context of Japanese vocabulary is probably best studied along with kanji since it’s more efficient, and that’s exactly what Wanikani does.
Is WaniKani even a tool for learning Japanese at all
Sort of. It teaches vocab, but that’s only part of the language. You have to pick up the grammar on your own.
Just keep up with Wanikani and your vocabulary and kanji knowledge will just keep increasing, almost in the background. Start studying grammar alongside it. It’s ok for grammar study to be somewhat inconsistent since once you really grasp something it tends to not leave you, but you really need a structured system if you want to learn kanji effectively and that’s what Wanikani provides.