Sometimes dreams can have a speed bump or two in its path towards achievement. I speak from experience regarding this, as many of my personal goals have taken years to achieve due to things beyond my control. In the latest volume of We Never Learn, it’s Asumi that experiences such a challenge in her life. Fortunately, she has a friend like Nariyuki in her corner.

Asumi’s dream is to take over her family clinic, which is why she’s constantly studying whenever a chance arises. However, she overhears her parents discussing about closing the clinic due to her father’s deteriorating energy. This puts a giant road block in Asumi’s dream, as she fears that she’s been studying for absolutely nothing. Thankfully, it takes a little pick-me-up from Nariyuki (as well as a game of playing doctor at her cafe) to possibly reignite her passion once more.

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While the other women of We Never Learn have been given a massive spotlight, Asumi has often felt more like a comedic fodder compared to the others. But it’s here in the thirteenth volume where she’s given a moment to shine, as layers of character development are peeled back to show the kind of person she truly is. Asumi can be jokey and a tease to Nariyuki, but her heart is on full display when it comes to her gratefulness to him and her passion for medicine. Although she has always been a joy to read when she pops up, this is the first time Asumi feels like a true part of the narrative rather than a distraction.

As such, Asumi’s story (which takes up half of this volume’s page count) has now become an important part of Nariyuki’s own personal narrative. His passion to become a teacher feels more aligned with her dream of becoming a doctor. Both are professions that help people, with teachers helping one’s mind and doctors helping one’s body. Strange as it may sound — depending on how the narrative plays out — Asumi seems to be the most compatible with Nariyuki because of their similar paths in life. It takes a great amount of storytelling talent to suddenly change a clear winner in the rom-com path, but Taishi Tsutsui somehow did it both flawlessly and without it coming off as forced.

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The other women of We Never Learn have their moments in this volume, too. A look at an apartment with Kirisu-sensei hilariously spoofs various horror films, whereas Fumino’s obsession with horoscopes results in Nariyuki being tied into all of her silly “special guy” moments. Meanwhile, Uruka’s love for super spicy ramen bites her in the behind after she’s stuck in a study session sweating her tail off, resulting in a Jenga-styled pile-up of unnecessary help.

It’s the last chapter of We Never Learn’s thirteenth volume where Ogata’s turn at getting a bigger spotlight is hinted for the next time around. Despite the humor filled in this particular chapter, the last couple of panels may hint at something deep and troubling with the lover of card & board games. Even though she has had her share of problems in past volumes, we may be getting a reveal regarding her character possibly next time around. If her turn winds up being as effective as Asumi’s time in the spotlight was here, then We Never Learn may have the potential to go down as one of the most heartfelt rom-com manga series in years.

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FINAL GRADE:

Promotional consideration provided by Gabrielle Dyer of VIZ Media

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