I wrote a post about my efforts in learning Japanese in 2010. I'm still going at it, though changing my approach. A huge part of my Japanese study was playing games like AKB48 and various Japanese RPGS on PSP, looking up words that seem to appear often and hopefully through seeing a kanji again and again, I will automatically learn it. Finished Jeane D'arc last year which was a decent RPG. Gave Terra Phantastica on Saturn a go and the Japanese was way too hard and too old with too much political dialogue.
One thing I realised is that I only learned to recognise the shape of kanji. Give me another similar looking kanji and I was lost. Plus, I would expect certain words in the context of a game and so I could barely recognise those words outside of a game.
Take for example: 波 彼 疲 度 渡
Confusing, ain't it? That's nami, kare, tsukare, do, watasu and I'm pretty sure there are more look-a-likes.
Since I came back, I've started learning to write because its probably the best way to learn to differentiate similar looking kanji. Its proven very useful and sometimes I'm surprised to notice certain elements in kanji that I recognise but never realised how it actually is written.
My kanji recognition is all over the place since I'm studying based on words that appear often in RPGs and not the kanji grade chart that most people do. I've got a kanji recogniser app on my phone which is very useful. Just draw the kanji and it looks it up for you. Problem is, the stroke order has to be correct.
This year I've finished Fire Emblem Kakusei, played 10 hours of Labyrinth no Kanata and am now 50 hours into Legend of Dragoon. My kanji vocabulary is expanding ever so slowly and I've got a long way to go. I really want to play Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3 but that's going to be a whole different set of vocabulary since its set in the present. The problem with writing down kanji many times is that I can't have long sessions because I would end up with too many kanji to remember.
Some head scratching kanji stuff :
昔- mukashi/past 借り - kari/borrow. Add the hand element and past becomes borrow?
辛い - can be read as karai/hot or tsurai/painful. WTF.
If you watched SPEC, satori can be written as 覚り or 悟り . Who was the wise guy who decided that one word can be written in two different ways? Not as bad as those kanjis with 3 or more meanings.