“More than anything, it’s important to understand the struggles of others.” – Nariyuki Yuiga’s father
Recently I had the chance to review the first volume of The Quintessential Quintuplets for the site, and while doing so I couldn’t help but compare it to Weekly Shonen Jump series We Never Learn. Having spent so much time talking about this series, I return today to review the first volume of We Never Learn and discuss a little bit more about what it offers.
The story follows Nariyuki Yuiga, who’s sacrificed an ordinary high school life in order to keep his grades up and earn a scholarship to his chosen college. Coming from a poor background, Nariyuki wants to land a good job that will allow him to look after, and give something back to, his mum and younger siblings. After months of hard work, Nariyuki’s wish is granted when the school headmaster calls him in to offer the scholarship – but there are conditions!
In order to be granted his scholarship, the headmaster asks Nariyuki to tutor two of his fellow students: Rizu Ogata and Fumino Furuhashi. Rizu is a genius in science and mathematics but wishes to study liberal arts in college, while Fumino is talented at literature and arts but wishes to study math. With the two outright failing in the subjects they wish to pursue, the headmaster leaves Nariyuki with the difficult task of bringing them up to standard and getting them into their chosen colleges. With his future on the line, Nariyuki quickly gets to work, and so begins our slice of life comedy about what it means to teach geniuses.
I’ve been following this on-going series since it debuted in the English Weekly Shonen Jump back in 2017. The characters have come so far since then that this proved a great opportunity to go back to the beginning and find out if it still lives up to my initial enjoyment. Thankfully, everything I remembered about these early chapters remained true and I grew attached to the cast all over again.
While Rizu and Fumino aren’t wholly originally characters, they’re charming and relatable. Both of them could have very easy lives and land great jobs in the fields they’re so good at, but they both have justifiable reasons for striving for something else. Rizu hopes that studying liberal arts will help her better understand others and allow her to gain more knowledge about human emotion. Fumino on the other hand wishes to go into astronomy, chasing after a dream born from her mother’s love of the stars. It’s easy to relate to the feelings of not wanting to work in a particular field just because you naturally excel at it, and this helps the characters in their likability.
The fact that Rizu and Fumino are geniuses also works well in contrast to Nariyuki, who’s an average student and had to work hard to get where he is. At first he’s jealous of Rizu and Fumino’s abilities, but as he spends more time with them and watches how hard they work to chase their dreams, he gains a lot of respect for them. As a protagonist he’s sort of awkward around the girls and completely oblivious to their feelings the majority of the time, but he, too, is likable and easy to get behind. The fact he’s not bitter about his scholarship being tied to the girls really helps because many other protagonists would use that as their motivation – but Nariyuki genuinely just wants to see the girls prosper.
We Never Learn mangaka Taishi Tsutsui brings this story to life with clean and very expressive artwork. Tsutsui always fills each panel to the brim with detail, either in relation to the characters or just lush backgrounds. He also has a knack for making sure that crowded panels don’t feel cluttered and giving everything a very vibrant feel, even just through the use of black and white pages of manga. The characters always have a wide range of facial expressions and that makes the series a joy to flip through.
It should be mentioned that Tsutsui also has a tendency to add the occasional fan service scene here and there, which no doubt is why this series has a ‘Older Teen’ rating compared to many of Weekly Shonen Jump’s other series (which are Teen). That said, rather than these scenes bordering on erotic, they’re not unlike Hiro Mashima’s work with Fairy Tail and Eden’s Zero, which simply add to the fun and can be taken in stride. Ultimately, I’m fond of Tsutsui’s work and looking forward to seeing how it transitions into anime when the We Never Learn adaption begins airing in the Spring season.
This release comes to the UK thanks to VIZ Media and has been translated by Camella Nieh. The translation reads well and each of the characters has a distinct voice. As previously mentioned, this series runs in Weekly Shonen Jump and can be read through the English Weekly Shonen Jump app and website.
Overall, We Never Learn breaks into the slice of life comedy scene with a delightful first volume and shows that we can, in fact, learn with the right teacher and methods. With a lovable collection of characters, realistic dreams, and just a little bit of teenage high jinks along the way, the series promises to be an entertaining read for months to come. It’s definitely worth picking up if you’re a fan of this genre.
A free preview of this volume can be read on Viz Media’s website here.