Was it more popular before? I guess fewer people had tried it so there were fewer opponents too. And there were not a lot of alternatives before. But all in all, people are still using it, aren’t they?
I do competely understand why one would hesitate to get into it and I didn’t want to either at first. But imo all the other resources let you get only so far. Only Anki allowed me to be as flexible as I wanted to be. I think everyone who is learning Japanese should give it a try for at least a month before they decide they hate it because it is worth it in the long run. But I definitely wish it was more approachable for beginners and people who are not software developers.
Maybe one day I’ll write a „what I did to love Anki“ post somewhere. It can be soo helpful but out of the box it is quite… meh. I don’t even want to imagine what studying Japanese must have been like without WaniKani and Anki.
And to be more on topic: I use Anki with a mix of premade and my own decks, Graded Readers, Satori Reader and recently I got a Netflix subscription to watch more Japanese shows. I enjoy all of those.