Which subscription option should I go for?

So I’ve just hit level 3 and am loving the WK experience so far - currently umming and ah-ing over which subscription to punt for when I (hopefully) reach L4 in the next week or two.

My goals are:
*Be able to hold simple conversations in Japanese and navigate my way around a future long holiday to Japan. I’m keen to get off the beaten track into areas where basic English can’t be assumed, and want to immerse myself into the culture as much as possible even if English is an option.
*Be able to watch Studio Ghibli films without dubbing or subtitles
*Learn more about Japanese culture and history
*More generally, learn a new language as an intellectual challenge to myself. I haven’t done languages since basic German at age 16 (I’m now 28), needed a new hobby following multiple knee surgeries and am fascinated with Japanese culture and food so decided to ignore the difficulty warnings and throw myself in.

My subscription thinking is:

  1. Monthly works out more expensive, but would give me a few more months to see how much time I end up spending on WK vs other materials (Japanese for busy people when my classes resume after the pandemic , Genki, online videos/podcasts) when the pace ramps up for WK reviews
  2. Annual sounds like pretty good value, though still feels like a chunky commitment when it’s been relatively easy going so far.
  3. Lifetime - ruling out for now as it seems a bit too expensive. Might rethink if there is a sale…but I can get more than 3 years of annual for the price, and my current Japanese goals probably don’t need me to get all the way to L60 (though I do like a challenge so might come back to this when the competitive streak hits!)

OK even writing this out is helping clarify my thinking…I could go monthly then upgrade to Annual/Lifetime at any point, but I’m also tempted to just commit to annual straight up and save myself the hassle.

What have the WK community found as the most effective choice? Did you wish you chose a different option back when you hit L4?


They usually have sales for Lifetime around Christmas, so going monthly until then is probably your best bet.


Lifetime is always $100 off around Christmas time.
Also whether you do monthly or annual depends on how committed you are to learning Japanese. If you ARE committed, then you should do the annual subscription hands down. If you’re still going strong by Christmas time then upgrade to lifetime. If you’re not sure if you can keep up, then do monthly for now and then switch to annual when you are sure.

Getting to level 60 within 400 days is achievable if you follow this guide which has you do your reviews three times per day at the same time every day. Otherwise, it takes most users 2-4 years. You should start studying grammar once you’re around level 10-20 and can read hiragana/katakana no problem.

Here’s a guide from the creators of WaniKani to learning Japanese.
Here’s where you can practice reading just hiragana/katakana
Here’s where you can learn Japanese grammar for free!

P.S. Your first two goals will take some time. At least half a year if you’re committed and can spend more than two hours everyday studying. Otherwise it may take one or two years. The main thing to watch out for is burnout. If you stick to a schedule, you’re more likely to succeed than if you go super saiyan from the getgo.


I agree, but if you can afford it and are reasonably confident you will continue wanikani, I’d go for annual, since the amount have remaining on your annual subscription gets deducted from the lifetime subscription. (Ex: if you are six months into your annual subscription when you purchase lifetime then you will get lifetime for ~45$ less.)


Do monthly subscription for 3 months and if you stick with WK switch to annual.

Then, if you really like it here, you can grab lifetime with a discount. They will additionally deduct the price of your annual subscription that’s left. So if you have 6 months of your annual left they’ll deduct half of the annual price from the lifetime price.


I’ve been here over 4.5 years at this point, with a ways to go. Lifetime worked out in the end for me.
If you’re a speed demon who gets everything right all the time, lifetime’s probably not great.
But if you’re a bit slower, and struggle with learning, lifetime can save you money in the long run.
Or, if you’re like @Leebo and plan to “complete” WK 23 times…


Lifetime it is :3


I went for annual with the hope I can change to lifetime when the sale comes. There’s no way I can finish this in one year only!

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I intend to stick with monthly indefinitely. Lifetime is $199 in late December, which is equal to 22 months monthly. For me, I don’t think it’ll take me that long to to get to level 60 and burn most items. Plus, spreading the cost means you’re putting yourself at less risk if money becomes tight.

Not to mention the intangible value of the flexibility a monthly subscription gives you, especially when you’re first starting out and can’t be certain how things will play out.


Due to Covid, Christmas is cancelled


If you haven’t thought it like that yet - if you really want a motivation to do this whole WK-thing, going lifetime might be give you that motivation. I’m not that kind of person myself but maybe you are. However I waited until the sale.

I went with the annual since it was a better deal and I have some extra cash right now where $89 wasn’t an issue. However I’m seeing a lot of people recommending the monthly until the sale for lifetime, so its up to you. I’m doing my best to get through the program within a year or so, so at least for me, paying one or two annual subscriptions is cheaper that the $299 lifetime sub.

If you are serious about learning Japanese you will need a resource for learning kanji. Japanese for Busy People, and Genki are not kanji resources. The only mainstream alternative to WK, as far as I’m aware, is Remembering the Kanji. It’s a very different system, so I’d recommend researching it a bit to decide whether you think it’s for you. If it’s not, you’ll find WK difficult to replace.

If you go the WK route, you should almost certainly buy lifetime, but you should wait until the holiday sale to do it (when it costs $199 instead of $299). There isn’t much difference between going monthly vs. annual until then: 7 months is $63 at the monthly rate and $52 at the pro-rated annual rate (you’ll get a discount on the lifetime membership according to your remaining annual membership duration).

Since $11 isn’t enough money to break a sweat over, I’d say go with monthly if you have any hesitation at all. Otherwise go annual.


my suggestion is to go for a monthly for starters, it will take you 2 or 3 levels to see if wk is for you.

Kanji learning has ups and downs and at some point, you will feel the urge to reset. minimum 2 years is a must for kanji stuff imo. so take a year long plan and it will take you up to 25 or 30. up to this point, if your reading capabilities are not good enough, take another year… that is what i do.


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If you’re serious about learning just get the lifetime, it is lifetime after all, so you can go at your own pace and always have it as a resource.


It depends. I personally don’t plan to use WK for more than 2 years, so Annual is what I went with. I’m on my first annual plan, getting another in December/January (can’t remember when). Really ask yourself, “How long do I plan to use this service? How long do I plan to be here?” Lifetime might end up being a waste of money if your plan is to get in and out. My suggestion is to buy annual, and if you need Lifetime, buy it when the sale happens.

Thanks everyone, some good suggestions there!

General motivation not an issue - I’ve been taking weekly classes for about a year but my reading skills are non existent as the classes are almost entirely speaking and listening, and my class is cancelled until at least September due to coronavirus. Not expecting to complete at speed, but not sure what level I will need to get to. Someone previously suggested N3 is good enough for casual reading, and then look up the occasional Kanji you don’t recognise.

I’ve got remembering the Kanji but so far found it hard to get into without the context and I love how interactive WK is - as well as feeling I can make progress with 2-3 small sessions a day. Typing is a great skill to master as well, since I’m unlikely to need to hand write Kanji based on my current goals and building my vocab alongside Kanji suits me nicely.

So yeah, sounds like a few more levels and hopefully a Christmas sale or annual subscriptions are the way to go once I’m sure WK is the one for me.

Here’s a userscript you might be interested in:
Progress Percentages by @Kumirei: Calculates the percentages of kanji you know in each of the JLPT levels and displays this on the dashboard.

You need to install tampermonkey or some other script manager and Wanikani Open Framework in order to use it.

What it does is adds a progress meter to your dashboard that displays how much of the kanji/vocab you’re likely to know on the N5~N1 tests and on sites like NHK, Newscasts, Twitter, and Wikipedia based on the frequency of the words/kanji you’ve learned. Here’s what it looks like:

I’m only past level 11 and I’ve got 55~65% on media site comprehension. Also according to @jprspereira:

  • By level 30, you’ll be able to identify 88.07% of kanji used on Twitter and 86.48% of the kanji used on Wikipedia.
  • The extra 30 levels on the other hand, will “only” give you an extra 10.11% for Twitter and 11.71% for Wikipedia.

Wow does that actually work?
Cos if it does thats a huge money saver :thinking:

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Yup. They’ll even prorate if you’re on a monthly plan. I’m on monthly and if I buy Lifetime right now I get $8.66 off. :slight_smile:

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