What WK level should I aim for before...?

This is my first proper post here, so こんにちは、みんな! (Hopefully I got that right…)

I started learning Japanese “seriously” somewhat recently, even though I’ve wanted to learn it for a long time. My main motivation is to be able to consume Japanese media without needing a translation. In particular, I’m interested in manga, anime, music, and video games. That said, I’m curious what WaniKani level I should aim for before trying to read/watch/listen/play certain series in particular. I’m well aware that because of the way WK orders its kanji, I’ll probably need to look certain characters up even in the stuff made for kids, but I’m willing to do that occasionally. So here’s a list of Japanese media I’m interested in. If I could get your opinions on what level I should be at before being able to understand most of the kanji.

Manga:

  • Shirokuma Cafe
  • Shokugeki no Soma
  • Pokemon
  • Black Butler
  • Unofficial Hatsune Mix
  • Doraemon
  • Death Note

Anime:

  • Shirokuma Cafe
  • Shokugeki no Soma
  • Pokemon
  • Black Butler
  • Restaurant to Another World
  • Ancient Magus Bride
  • Sword Art Online (Don’t judge, please)
  • Death Note

Music:

  • Mostly Vocaloid stuff. I know that’s a lot of ground to cover, so here are some examples:
  • Gigantic O.T.N.
  • Tricolore Airline
  • Remote Control
  • 12 Fanclub
  • Sand Planet
  • Ageage Again
  • News 39
  • Doremifa Rondo

Video Games:

  • Pokemon
  • Persona 4/5
  • Project Diva
  • Rhythm Heaven
  • Fire Emblem
  • Touhou

Misc:

  • NHK News Easy

I realize this is quite a long list, so feel free to respond to however many or few you feel like. Specificity is appreciated, but ballpark estimates are welcome.

ありがとうございます!

Note: If you’re just starting Japanese and have something specific you want to read/watch/whatever, please ask below. Maybe we can get a dialogue going and start a list of recommended WK levels for popular Japanese media!

3 Likes

in level seven, there is a “touhou” word :slight_smile:
welcome, see you around.

4 Likes

At around level 20 and about 3000 vocab, you will likely be able to understand the gist of most teen to adult oriented material. You will also likely know a fair chunk of kids material as well.

At about level 40 or 5000 to 6000, you can understand most of teen to adult material you read.

Level 60 and 8000 to 9000, you can understand the main points of virtually anything, generally be able to skip the word you don’t know if you’re feeling lazy.

13 Likes

For Pokemon video games I’m just going to say my experience with Pokemon Sun since that’s the only one I have experience with playing in Japanese. I would recommend waiting until around level 30 probably, maybe even 40. It has a lot of vocab, and the words are quite often a mix between using kanji and hiragana. Even when a word is more commonly written with kanji, the game sometimes uses hiragana for that word. Even so I’d still recommend waiting so long because despite what I just said, it does have a lot of kanji used.

The things that I have trouble with is reading things like descriptions of Pokedex entries, moves, abilities, etc. Dialogue can also go on for what seems like forever so you have to be prepared for that. One other thing that you really need to be prepared for is not only all the strange vocab, but the grammar. You need to make sure to work on grammar. I’d say you can probably get by with around an N4 level of grammar but it’s still very important.

Just as a little side note: I tried playing Pokemon Sun in Japanese way back when I was level 11 and it completely overloaded me and I gave up soon after. I started it back up again about a week ago and it is so much more doable now although still quite the challenge.

3 Likes

Nobody better judge you because Sword Art Online is DA BEST. It’s one of my favourite animes along with Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Death Note, Naruto + Naruto Shippuden, Blue Exorcist, and Attack on Titan.
SIE SIND DAS ESSEN UND WIR SIND DIE YEAGEEEEEERR

4 Likes

I’d basically echo what @xyzbuster said, but those other numbers, the amount of vocab needed, much of which WK doesn’t teach, and a solid foundation in grammar, are just as important as being able to recognise kanji.

WK will make acquiring vocab and grammar a lot easier, to the point that I’d call it indispensable and one of the best resources available for learners, but it’s just one part of your path to tackling native material.

3 Likes

N4 sounds limited, honestly. In my experience with Manga/video games:
N4 grammar -> struggling a lot to understand what the point of the sentence is, even if I know/look up all the words
N3 + context (i.e a few chapters/hours in depending on the media): pretty ok, still needed to look things up to make sense of what I was reading, but it felt comfortable enough.
N2 grammar -> Still lacking some vocab, but not necessary to look up anything. (I would misunderstand stuff from times to times, but I would catch it later when I notice something does not make sense).
N1 -> Even books are okay.

None of this correlate with a given WK level though…

6 Likes

I’m talking strictly grammar here. I think maybe N3 you’d be able to get my a lot more comfortably, but I’m around N4 and I’ve been able to understand most sentences reasonably well. The thing I lack most is vocab, I do have to look up grammar sometimes but it’s definitely not nearly as common as vocab.

1 Like

I’m doing okay with N4 grammar, too, but I’m finding that there’s a lot of nuance my brain is filtering out as I pick up N3 bit by bit.

N4 is definitely enough to start reading the sort of things we’re tackling in the beginner book club, easier games, and some LNs, but there are structures and patterns that convey additional meaning that I can see now that were overlooked before.

1 Like

I am also talking strictly grammar, sorry if the mention of looking up vocab was confusing.
Maybe you are on the upper end of N4, then, because when I was N4 I was not able to do that :thinking:
I mean, I would eventually get it if I banged my head on a given sentence long and hard enough, but that was not enjoyable…

2 Likes

Well, I’m lvl 16 now and I still can’t read much beyond basic sentences. I suck at grammar tho.

From what I’ve read on the forums, you’ll need to be at least lvl 30 to start tackling native level material, and that’s only in regards to kanji, grammar is super important as well.

1 Like

Hi! And welcome to the wonderful world of WaniKani!

Congratulations on starting to learn Japanese! It’s a great skill to add to your arsenal!

Now, I believe you should start consuming audio-visual material right away. This is so that you can start getting familiar with how the language sounds, the different patterns you can heard, the rhythm of the language, etc. I started consuming Japanese media waaaay before I started my language journey, and I can tell you that there is a LOT of things that your subconscious can pick up over time. So get on that as soon as you can!

As for reading material, I would also recommend to start as soon as you can, but it’s a little trickier because you need to find texts that are at the appropriate level, otherwise you can very easily burn out. I’m not the expert on this subject though, so I’ll let the others fill you in on it!

3 Likes

Hey @The1AndMany
nice to meet you and cool that you joined the forum!
I also can’t await the time when I am able to listen to anime and read manga!!!

BUT I found a really nice workaround for now: I use my (anime/vocaloid) music to learn Japanese.
In the first stage, I only try to catch up the pronunciation. Sounds easyer than it is! I repeat this a few times.

Then I listen to the song while I read the lyrics (in KANJI!! Not in romaji/hiragana :stuck_out_tongue: ). At LvL 6 I am able to understand about 40% of the Kanji and 20% of the whole text.

This does’n sound much, I know. BUT I get (1) listening comprehention and I (2) repeat my vocab. I repeat my (3) grammar and IF I look up a vocab, I will (4) repeat them over and over, because I will listen to this song dozens of times later.

Of course I take easy songst first. It needs a clear ponunciation, easy vocab and shouldn’t be to fast. One great expample I’m just listening:

~T :lion:

3 Likes

That song always cheers me up

Traditional Japanese children’s stories:
http://life.ou.edu/stories/

I find it to be just about right for my level - not super difficult but at level 10 I’m still learning something every time I read it. I see more of WK’s kanji than I would have expected, but mostly in the notes. The vocabulary and grammar are straightforward - not too slangy. I can tell I’m understanding a lot better and reading faster than when I started.

3 Likes

An alternate way to look at it:

Any text you read is going to have a range of difficulty. There will be very simple constructions and vocab and more complicated things. So instead of having an expectation that at level X, text Y will make sense, you can have the expectation that whatever you are trying to read and understand, there will be some of it that will make sense and some that wont. As you progress, the amount that you understand and the sophistication with which you understand it will increase. This will be true for any text (and when you think about it, is still true for you in your native language, which you get better at understanding over time).

Reading is a skill and the best way to get better is to do it. Now that being said, as a practical matter, if you pick up a text and none of it makes sense even with a dictionary and grammar resources, then it prob is not a very efficient use of your learning time. But if you go through a basic grammar book (genki, or tae kim), any manga you pick up will be understandable to some extent (even if its only 1 sentence out of 5) with a dictionary. And that time you spend figuring out those 1 in five sentences is learning time well spent even at a early level.

1 Like

As a german i coud not resist. xD
its Jäger not YEAGEEER

1 Like

:woman_shrugging:t4: hehe
Oops
As a person who knows no German I had no idea (sorry)

For me personally, I started reading NHK Easy at level 18. I was still lacking in some grammar, so it was tricky and took a while, but I did it. It all really comes down to how comfortable you want to be while translating. If you don’t want to work at all and just want to consume the content, then why not wait for level 60 + N2/N1?

I’m assuming you’d want to do it sooner than that, which is why you’re asking, and based off my experience, I started reading around level 20 with at least N5 grammar, and I was quickly progressing through N4 grammar at the time as well. Stuff took me a while and I had to stop and look up things a LOT, but I made it through. You’ll get faster as you go along, and if you make notes of vocab or some grammar points as you go, it’ll only make things easier in the future.

If you’re talking kanji specifically, for at least some of the manga you have listed, they’ll have furigana, so you should still be able to make it through. But of course, the higher your level, the better. Level 30 seems like a good spot, like others have mentioned. I’m too impatient for that, and I’d like to work on my reading level sooner, plus it helps motivate me, so I started sooner.

I would say to try checking those media out at various times, even if you’re at a lower level, give them a glance. If you feel motivated to try, then try. If you want to study more, do that first. But I wouldn’t tell yourself you /have/ to wait for a specific level before you start.

In any case, good luck! :slight_smile:

3 Likes

NHK Easy or regular NHK? The former seems more accessible to people of that level, which is why I would recommend the OP starting there.

But yeah, those numbers above were just an estimate on how it was for me. I started reading at about 3000 words and I was still able to get a satisfying enough amount of comprehension to continue reading.

1 Like