One thing I appreciate most about Taishi Tsutsui is his way of creating a balance between the funny and sweet moments in romantic comedies. His series We Never Learn rose from being a simply good story to something that this critic looks forward to checking out every time a new release drops. (Its anime adaptation, now currently in its second season, goes even further with showcasing this manga’s strengths.) With its sixth volume, We Never Learn once again showcases the more stronger elements of Nariyuki and co.’s study buddy adventures.
Volume Six goes to great lengths to make sure almost every person in Nariyuki’s life is given equal spotlight here. (Poor Fumino keeps getting the shaft!) Uruka and her tutor go on an impromptu trip to their old junior high, whereas Asumi looks for assistance with convincing her dad that she and Nariyuki are dating. Ogata has to experience a bad hair day, while Mafuyu deals with her little sister Miharu arriving for a visit. Meanwhile, the girls take a quick post-study bath, only to find that they might’ve entered through the wrong entrance.
This particular plot devices puts a very big emphasis on the comedic aspects of We Never Learn. Although the gags can be considered a little naughty and far-fetching (especially one dealing with a mix-up with bra sizes and test grades), they’re all presented with a hint of innocence via our main protagonist. He’s one of the rarities in the rom-com realm: a legit nice guy who puts everyone else’s needs over his own. Even with its harem-like tropes, Nariyuki wears his heart on his sleeve whenever the appropriate moment allows it.
But when it comes to romantic feelings and those who are crushing on him, Nariyuki can be very dense. This is truly apparent when he and Uruka are sneaking through their old alma mater, as the tanned swimmer puts her heart on her plate and finally confesses her love to him. However, because she claimed it was for practice and Nariyuki was assisting, he didn’t pick up on her signals. This leads to a moment that will first make you laugh out loud, followed by a delivery of warm fuzzies by how it ends.
The addition of Mafuyu’s sister Mihara brings about a good dosage of comedy, especially when she thinks Mafuyu’s dating Nariyuki. How she attempts to thwart their (not really) flirty ways by attempting to be a flirt herself is pretty snicker-inducing. Even when she finally has to be told that Nariyuki is a legit good guy and hard worker by her intoxicated sister, she nevertheless still finds herself cracking that whip and making sure he’s not up to any funny business. (Then again, when you force a dude into a 24-hour study session, funny business would be far from any guy’s head!)
Even after six volumes, We Never Learn still finds ways to have its characters evolving in certain ways. It’s never afraid to be cute and sweet, nor go head-on for a big laugh. Despite its okay beginnings, We Never Learn has evolved into one of the more memorable high school rom-coms in manga this decade. With that being said, could Tsutsui at least try to give Fumino a good solo storyline or two for her sake?!
Promotional consideration provided by Erik Jansen of MediaLab PR