In 2017 a brand-new romantic comedy hit Shonen Jump, ready to fill the gap left behind by the end of Nisekoi: False Love. Since then, the series has been trucking along at a decent clip and is coming upon its second anniversary. We Never Learn has finally released its first volume, so let’s give it a look. Is it good?
Nariyuki Yuiga comes from an impoverished family, so he’s eager to secure a full scholarship to college when he graduates high school. His principal agrees, with one stipulation–he must tutor the two smartest girls at the school and make sure they get into their target colleges! Rizu is a science genius who wants to study liberal arts. Fumino is effortlessly good at literature, but math makes her head spin. Nariyuki is stuck between a rock and a hard place, but who can complain about tutoring a couple of cute girls?
The Initial Reaction
I have been following We Never Learn since its debut in Shonen Jump, reading it week to week. I’ve quite enjoyed my time with this breezy, silly comedy, but I’ve never really given it a critical eye. With the first volume finally out, I decided to give it a more serious look now that it has to compete against other series on the market. After giving it another read-through the first volume of We Never Learn is a decent debut for a romantic comedy, though it doesn’t stand out too much in the crowd.
The first volume of We Never Learn gives you a fairly good taste of what the series is like. Story-wise, it’s about a guy trying to tutor two geniuses in subjects that they’re not good at. Things get hairier when he eventually has to take on another one who’s an old friend and an idiot. The plot isn’t complicated and doesn’t have tons going on in it, but you don’t need it to. The simple setup offers plenty of potential for comedic and romantic moments throughout as well as character growth. Its structure is similar to Nisekoi, with plenty of chapters focused around a silly situation before the plot kicks back in to move things forward a little. This is not a series where the story will shake up genre conventions much like Boarding School Juliet does. But for what it is, it works just fine.
The cast of characters work perfectly fine to start off with but will need some development as time goes on. We have our lead, Nariyuki Yuiga, your typical nice guy in this kind of series. He starts off seeming like a guy only interested in proving he’s superior at school, but it turns out it’s because he’s trying get a scholarship to a good college for his family’s sake. He’s sincere and helpful, very understanding of people’s situations, and can come up with solutions to solve problems. He’s bland, but his motivation and interactions do at least make him a step above the usual shonen rom-com lead.
Then there are the girls he’s tutoring. There’s Rizu Ogata, a short girl who’s an expert at science and is trying to get into a liberal arts college. She has a very hard time comprehending anything that isn’t scientific, is far more blunt and cold, and has difficulty opening up to others. She’s hoping that by attending this kind of college she’ll be able to study psychology and understand people better. Fumino Furuhashi is a literary expert but wants to get into a science-based college. She’s more of a people person, being peppy, happy, and such. By going to her college of choice, she hopes to study astronomy and fulfill a sort of promise to her deceased mother.
Later introduced is Uruka Takemoto, an expert swimmer hoping to get to college on an athletic scholarship. But she is, and rather proudly at that, an idiot. There’s no real motivation for her goals, leaving her a bit empty in depth besides her existing crush on Yuiga. However, her hyperactive, energetic personality keeps her entertaining to watch with how she bounces off of others. Rizu’s flat demeanor and stubbornness is genuinely fun as well. Unfortunately, Fumino is left as the weakest link. She’s not particularly funny or interesting to read about with no real quirks She’s spacey and cheery and that’s it. She gets better later on, but in the first volume she leaves a bit to be desired.
This is a rom-com, so how do those elements stack up? The romance angle is slowly building, so there isn’t much chemistry there. This volume is mostly just building and warming the characters up, outside of one character having a crush already. As such, while story develops its romance the comedy has to pick up the slack and it does so well. This is a pretty funny series with tons of great amusing gags from start to finish. The pacing and timing is on-point, cramming in tons of jokes that work more often than they don’t. There’s a nice variety of different kinds of jokes and nothing feels dragged out to where it becomes annoying. It’s hard to describe in just text, but I found the humor to be on most of the time.
The biggest weakness I found was the fan service. We Never Learn is a series that doesn’t always use it tor T&A for its younger male crowd. It sometimes goes several chapters where the only suggestive thing is the dialogue. Because of this and the softer art style, the times when the series does have fan service always feels egregious and out of place. For instance the first chapter, outside of some suggestiveness, is pretty clean. But then, in the last four pages, we get nude, steam-covering-up-naughty-bits shots of the female leads in the tub or shower. It doesn’t feel like it belongs at all after everything that happens beforehand. A scene like that might work more in an ecchi series that commits to being lewd, but not here. It just feels more awkward than anything.
The artwork is very nice and easy on the eyes. It’s a series from the artist who worked on a spin-off of Nisekoi, which the art style here is reminiscent of. Very manga-ish with the cute girls, big eyes, facial features and such, but also excellent at laying out panels and scenes. It is utterly terrific at making some hilarious moments work, like a quick gag with Yuiga chasing Uruka around to get her to study. The art makes it look like Uruka is panicking the whole time, but in the second panel the art is changed just enough to show she’s now having a blast. With that said the designs are a bit bland and overall I wouldn’t say this series stands out in the crowd of romantic comedies. But, the art gets the job done.
Is It Good?
We Never Learn Vol. 1 is a fairly typical romantic comedy from Shonen Jump. Everything about it works just fine, providing plenty of good laughs and adorable characters to follow along with. They’re not deep, but they don’t need to be at this stage. However, while this series is functional and enjoyable you’re not going to get anything really special from it due to how familiar it feels and looks. If you like manga rom-coms you’ll like this fine. Just don’t expect anything ground-breaking.
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