For beginner and intermediate students of Japanese, encountering a kanji such as 鬱 (utsu, depression) in the wild can be a somewhat traumatic event that, appropriately, induces a deep, introspective depression regarding their language ability. Let's pull out our electron microscopes and examine that sucker up close: It's got an upstairs, a downstairs and what appears to be a safety deposit box holding some secret treasure. It has a kakusū (画数, stroke count) of 29 and takes half an hour to write. How the hell would you even determine the bushu (部首, radical) in order to look up the meaning in a kanji dictionary? It looks like it has 10 bushu.

Kanji such as 鬱 generally cause students to either think that they've made a terrible decision to study this language or that kanji themselves should be abolished and replaced with kana (仮名, syllabary characters) or rōmaji (ローマ字, Latin alphabet letters). They're mistaken.

Kanji may be intricate and complicated and take a significant investment of time to use correctly, but they are an essential part of the Japanese writing system. One that actually makes it easier to read the language.