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Manga / We Never Learn

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Foreground: Fumino Furuhashi (left) and Rizu Ogata (right); background, left to right: Mafuyu Kirisu, Nariyuki Yuiga, Asumi Kominami and Uruka Takemoto
"Become the kind of guy that can understand the guys that just can't do it. Because the only ones that can understand the feelings of those who 'can't do it' are the guys who 'couldn't do it'."
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Nariyuki Yuiga is one of the brightest twelfth-graders at Ichinose Academy. Having come from an impoverished family, he strives to achieve the school's "Special VIP Recommendation" scholarship, which will fully cover his college tuition and thus help provide his widowed mother and his three younger siblings.

He eventually gets shortlisted for the scholarship, albeit under the condition that he tutor the two brightest girls of his batch, Rizu Ogata and Fumino Furuhashi, and help them qualify for their college degree of choice. That soon proves to be easier said than done, given that Rizu, a prodigy in mathematics and science, wants to pursue psychology, and Fumino, an expert at the arts and literature, would rather be an astronomer, despite being hopelessly weak in either literature and math, respectively.

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Now Nariyuki has his hands full with trying to achieve his dreams, as well as guiding Rizu and Fumino, as well as his childhood friend Uruka Takemoto, Ichinose's top swimmer who sorely needs to improve her grades (especially English) to earn an athletics scholarship, to theirs. Joining along for the ride is their college-age upperclassman Asumi Kominaki, who needed good grades in science to be able to enter a medical school and thus be able to help at her family-run clinic, and Mafuyu Kirisu, Rizu and Fumino's stern former tutor.

We Never Learn ([ぼくたちは勉強ができない, Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai, or Bokuben for short) is an ongoing 2017 romantic comedy manga written and illustrated by Taishi Tsutsui. It is currently being serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump. While it can be pretty fanservice-y, most chapters revolve around the cute antics between the girls and Nariyuki and the series is certainly more wholesome than the other harem romcom it runs alongside to in the Jump.

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Received an anime adaptation directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki for Studio Silver and Arvo Animation in 2019, with the first season airing in winter and the second airing in fall.

Compare The Quintessential Quintuplets, a Weekly Shōnen Magazine manga that started the same year and shares a similar premise.


We Never Learn provides examples of:

  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Chapter 26 has Nariyuki directly asking Uruka if she likes him. She denies it because she wants Nariyuki to focus on his studies, but she regrets it immediately.
  • Accidental Kiss: Nariyuki and Rizu share an accidental one after Rizu slips off of a short cliff.
  • Air Vent Passage Way: Ichinose Academy has air vents that people can crawl through. During her days as a student, Asumi would often use them to get from place to place. A bonus illustration shows that her use of them was one of the reasons that Nariyuki never met her while she was a student there and shows an instance when they just missed each other.
  • Almost Kiss: Rizu wants to try Kissing Nariyuki for real after researching it a little bit, so she takes the initiative and goes in. She chickens out at the last second.
  • Babysitting Episode: In chapter 93, Mafuyu is taking care of her baby cousin Natsume for her aunt while her sister and parents are overseas in America. At the start of the chapter, Mafuyu was a Badly Battered Babysitter noting how harder it was than she thought. She goes to a bookstore to buy books to help her and coincidentally runs into Nariyuki while carrying Natsume and drags him to help her.
  • Balanced Harem: Rizu, Fumino, Uruka, Mafuyu, and Asumi all have roughly equal amounts of screentime and romantic development with Nariyuki, although the first three show a more obvious attraction.
  • Big Brother Worship:
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Ogata, Fumino, and Nariyuki all seem like wildly different characters than how they were introduced. Fumino's more blunt and sarcastic personality became more internalized after befriending the study group, Nariyuki has a lot more "off guard" and vulnerable moments, and Ogata is much more expressive.
    • Kirisu Mafuyu's sternness upon introduction was actually Played for Drama, with her being more antagonistic to the main cast. After her Hidden Heart of Gold reveal, she gradually became more Comically Serious.
  • Conspicuous CG: Mafuyu's car in the anime is very obvious CGI. Made more jarring when her and Nariyuki are inside it as the interior, barring a closeup of the gear shift, is also rendered in CG.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Just when things are looking south for Nariyuki and Uruka's attempt to patch things up with each other, Sawako texts Fumino about if she looks good in a ponytail. Fumino sends the wrong piece of advice to Nariyuki (complimenting the ponytail), but ends up resolving the problem anyway, since all that Uruka wanted was for Nariyuki to call her cute sometimes.
  • Cosplay Café: Chapter 31 has Nariyuki go to one named "High Stage", and he discovers that his alumnus sempai Asumi works there as a maid waitress. In chapter 34, Mafuyu ends up working there as payment for inconveniencing the staff, coming off as a clumsy maid herself. In chapter 75, Rizu also took part in order to get a rare board game. In chapter 96, Uruka and Fumino were put to work there when they get mistaken for two temporary maids that were to work there the same day the formers were following Nariyuki worried that he was dating someone.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Chapter 13 has Uruka forgetting to wear a bra on the same day as a sports tournament. Only after a full day of awkward physical activity does it hit her she could have just worn her swimsuit under her clothes as a substitute.
  • Cram School: In chapter 31, the principal introduced Nariyuki to one to attend during the summer which the friend of the former runs. There Nariyuki meets for the first time Asumi who was an alumnus of Ichinose Academy. In chapter 33 the other three girls: Rizu, Fumino, and Uruka, also starts to go there.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Rizu and Fumino's starting positions. Each is a genius in their respective specialties, but hopeless at the very subjects which they each wish to pursue instead.
  • Deconstruction: Of many of the assorted genius tropes, as the manga shows how Rizu and Fumino's talent left them without experience at studying, hence why they have so many hurdles to pursue their field of choice. This also extends to Reiji, whose knowledge of mathematics became useless when it came to mending his relationship with his daughter.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening and ending themes are sung by Haruka Shiraishi (Fumino), Miyu Tomita (Rizu) and Sayumi Suzushiro (Uruka) under the group name Study.
  • Fairy Tale Motifs: The five main love interests have been associated with the heroines of various fairy tales. Fumino was cast as Sleeping Beauty in the school festival arc, Rizu has been likened to Thumbelina for her short and cute stature, Uruka is likened to a mermaid for her beauty and swimming skill, Mafuyu is seen as an ice queen, fitting her stern attitude and her talent at skitting; and Asumi calls herself a pixie while working at the meido cafe, appropriate for her playful personality and her short complexion.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Nariyuki and Mafuyu fake a make-out session behind the bushes, so that Fumino won't recognize Mafuyu in her high school uniform.
  • False Start: In episode 8, Nariyuki starts getting Distracted by the Sexy when Uraka is around him. He also overhears her friends suggesting that she likes him, and later in the episode accidentally asks her that. She laughs it off, suggesting that she was interested in someone else. The Stinger after the credits reveals that feels bad about lying to him, but is also afraid if he rejected her Love Confession, it would destroy the relationship they currently have, so tries to reason that for now this was for the best.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: At the end of chapter 130, Nariyuki and Mafuyu become this after consuming curry from a recipe that Fumino provided, which includes Carolina Reaper and Dragon's Breath peppers. As Fumino can tolerate extremely spicy food, she thought the recipe was "pretty normal".
  • Footsie Under the Table:
    • In an extra chapter Rizu and Uruka think they were doing it with Nariyuki but it was actually Fumino. The latter doesn't tell them the truth seeing how happy they were.
    • In chapter 105, Uruka does this with Nariyuki.
  • Foreign Farewell: In chapter 90, Uruka kisses Nariyuki on the lips in the premise that it was practice for a common greeting overseas before proceeding to tell him that she will be studying abroad. From chapter 91, continuing from the previous chapter, Uruka insists it was just practice since it was a common greeting overseas. The next day, after hearing what happened from Uruka, her friends correct her that it is actually on the cheek not on the lips which caused her mental anguish over what she daringly did.
  • Freudian Trio: The three main heroines fall into this:
    • Ogata is The Spock, constantly trying to rationalize human reactions while discovering what they mean for herself. She serves as The Stoic of the group.
    • Uruka as The McCoy, acting purely on her whims and following her heart, and the most emotional of the three.
    • Fumino as The Kirk, since she's more observant and thoughtful than Uruka, and more emotional and emphatic than Ogata.
  • Funbag Airbag: When Rizu hypnotizes Nariyuki, once it kicks in he slumps forward, ending up resting his face against her chest.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Rizu gets a huge makeover in Chapter 57, including a new wardrobe, hair extensions, and of course, getting rid of her glasses. Nariyuki considers her a knockout and hardly recognized her. The chapter cover references the phenomenon by opening with Rizu taking off her glasses for the audience.
  • Gossip Evolution: In Chapter 37, Fumino asks for help in cooking curry since she doesn't know how to cook. What starts with innocent inquiry goes to Rizu thinking she wants a "yummy boyfriend"note , goes to Uruka as Fumino wanting a high-grade man, which goes to Asumi as wanting a boy like Nariyuki, and ends with Mafuyu straight up asking about Fumino's love life. It somehow works out in the end, since Mafuyu gives Fumino some advice on making curry to win men over.
  • Happy Ending Massage: In chapter 79, Nariyki got dragged into helping at the massage parlor and gets to massage all of his female acquaintances and made most of them feel good.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: One of the key aspects of the series is averting this. Both Rizu and Furuhashi want to be able to study their true passions despite their initial lack of any talent at their respective subjects. Nariyuki himself was a poor student until he continually worked at his subjects to get to where he is now.
  • Hypno Fool: In chapter 91, Nariyuki gets hypnotized. In chapter 92, Rizu hypnotized herself when trying to strengthen Nariyuki's hypnosis state that she put on him.
  • Hypno Pendulum: In chapter 91, Rizu uses one on Nariyuki to show one of the psychology techniques she is studying about but doesn't believe it would work until it does.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the chapters consist of a pretty long phrase with an [x] in it (like in an equation).
  • Idiot Hair: Uruka sports a large one that curves downwards, while Fumino has a smaller one that curves upwards.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Now that Nariyuki has been made aware of Uruka's feelings for him (despite Uruka denying it), they both awkwardly dance around the subject and can't look at each other as just simple friends again. They don't actually want to ruin the friendship they have, so they ask Fumino for help.
  • I Have This Friend...: Parodied in Chapter 35, where Uruka and Nariyuki make paper-thin complaints about the awkwardness of their relationship to Fumino.
  • Imagine the Audience Naked: While Kirisu is putting him through a faux interview, Nariyuki tries to push aside how intimidating she is at the moment by picturing her in her tracksuit. Instead, he ends up picturing her in a swimsuit, and his imagination keeps putting her in different fanservicey outfits while he tries to settle on something less embarrassing.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Nariyuki is a pretty decent student, scoring above 80 percent in all of his subjects. However, he is far outshined by Ogata and Furuhashi when it comes to their respective specialties.
  • Lap Pillow:
    • In chapter 54, Asumi gives one to Nariyuki to clean his ears.
    • In chapter 77, Nariyuki fantasizes Uruka and himself as a couple, him resting his head on her lap under a tree.
    • In chapter 92, while both were hypnotized, Nariyuki and Rizu received and gave each other one.
    • In chapter 119, Nariyuki was given one by Mafuyu after he was knocked out by her twice (he was knocked out in the present and later in the past, both instances caused him to time travel but from Present!Mafuyu's perspective Nariyuki was out for only two minutes).
    • In chapter 121, a drowsy Nariyuki coddles Fumino like a cat when her head falls upon his lap.
  • Logical Weakness:
    • Because they are so talented at their specialties, Ogata and Furuhashi find it difficult to actually explain said concepts to others. This is why they need Nariyuki to tutor them. This issue also means that they are incapable of tutoring one another.
    • A large part of their issues outside their subjects. Ogata is so logical and scientifically minded that understanding of the emotions behind a work of literature, be it author intent or the characters of the story, often eludes her. Furuhashi, on the other hand, is so naturally artistic and emotional that the hard numbers of science and mathematics quickly overwhelm her.
  • Love Revelation Epiphany: Chapter 26, where Nariyuki learns about Uruka's crush on him when he overhears some of her classmates in the nurse's office. Afterwards, he's completely aware of her. Subverted once she lies to him about the boy she likes, putting his mind at ease for the time being.
  • Lucky Translation: The Kirisu sisters' old pet dog was named as Pero in the original Japanese (which referred to the Japanese onomatopoeia for 'licking'). The Viz translation of Chapter 46 kept the same general word as its name, but added in an extra R, making it into Perro. Thus, while in the original, it references the fact that dogs lick a lot; the Viz version's extra R then changing it into Perro - (which can mean 'dog' or 'doggy' in Spanish) - thereby still retains the simple dog-related naming theme (not unlike Spot or Fido in English).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Uruka and Mafuyu take up the bulk of it, as the former is a swimmer who gets plenty of scenes in her sport, while the latter gets put into many different sexy outfits.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: In chapter 96, in the clothing store that Uruka and Fumino followed Nariyuki to, the former pretends to be a mannequin to avoid his detection since he wasn't wearing his glasses. (Un?)Fortunately for her Nariyuki's job while there was to move the mannequins and so he had to hold her close in an embrace yet he never was the wiser that it was her.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Some of the comedy and ship teasing comes from these. In chapter 104, Nariyuki was thinking that he upset Fumino for not commenting on her lipstick while Fumino was thinking of the kiss between them during the school festival.
  • Perverted Sniffing: In chapter 97, Uruka, Fumino and Rizu do this with Nariyuki's towel that he wore on his head while working at Ogata Udon.
  • Potty Emergency: In chapter 82, Asumi is trapped in the bathroom at work and needs to go. It normally would not much of a problem, except she was trapped in it with Nariyuki and there were no other employees at the time. When she couldn't hold it any longer she had Nariyuki turn around and cover his ears. When she was about to go, her coworker Machiko opened the door and saw the scene.
  • Running Gag: A mother and child coming out of nowhere (and it's always the same mother and child) when Nariyuki does something romantic and commenting that he looks like he's dating his cohort.
  • Satellite Character: Every supporting character of note is typically defined by their relationship to Nariyuki and/or one of the five main female characters.
  • Scholarship Student: Ichinose Academy has one called a VIP nomination that lets a student go to their college (that accepts) paid for. Nariyuki wanted this and was why he is tutoring the geniuses.
  • School Festival: From chapters 64 - 69.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: Early in the story, we get a shot of Uruka climbing out of the pool in her School Swimsuit in this fashion.
  • Ship Tease: Everyone gets a moment with Nariyuki at some point. After Nariyuki compliments Uruka's ponytail, Fumino changes her hair to a side ponytail the next day, looking at Nariyuki and expecting him to say something about it.
  • Shout-Out: The anime announcement color spread has Fumino's outfit imitate Haikara's from Haikara-san ga Tooru.
  • Sick Episode: In chapter 9 (from the stinger of chapter 8), Fumino is sick from studying instead of resting at the first sign of getting a cold. Uruka and Nariyuki nurses her at her home. At the end of the chapter, it is Nariyuki who later gets sick by catching it from her.
  • Stargazing Scene: Often when it is night and Fumino, she would look up at the stars.
  • Sticky Situation: In chapter 103, Sawako shows Nariyuki and Rizu some adhesive that lasts 15 hours she made since she's part of the chemistry club. It ends up on the left and right hands of Sawako and Nariyuki respectively making them stuck to each other Holding Hands until the next morning.
  • Suggestive Collision: Very frequently, Nariyuki will find himself on the accidental receiving end of some mammary, usually followed by intense blushing and awkwardness.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: In chapter 102, just after Nariyuki seeing Mafuyu in nothing but a towel, he tells her to take off her clothes which cause the latter to give him a seething look. He clarifies that he wants her to change her clothes.
  • Test Kiss: Played for laughs. Since Nariyuki has kissed Rizu twice, she has developed the penchant of offering him to kiss if he needs practice, albeit this being Rizu, she offers it more out of curiosity rather than from desire or lust (though it's implied that she's begun liking it). Nariyuki thus far has told her no, but if she keeps insisting...
  • There Is Only One Bed: Nariyuki and Fumino have to share a hotel room and a futon in Chapter 39. The hotel doesn't suspect anything because they tell them they're siblings, but they freak out for quite a while because of it.
  • Time-Travel Episode: Chapter 119 and its Oppai Time Machine.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: After Uruka lies about Nariyuki not being the boy she likes, Nariyuki finds himself less than comfortable with the idea of her potentially dating the guy in question.
  • The Un-Reveal: Before the Cultural Festival starts, Nariyuki notes that the "jinx" about ending up with the person you're touching while the fireworks start turns out to be real. When the time comes, he ends up falling in a pile with Uruka, Fumino, Rizu, Asumi, and Mafuyu, but the fireworks fail to go off. They start for real just as one of the aforementioned five is taking Nariyuki's hand to help him up, but a shadow hides which girl it is.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Mafuyu is terrified of cockroaches to such degree that the sight of one leaves her leaping in fear.
    • Asumi is terrified of rodents ever since she witnesses a large nest of mice in a patient's home which the latter was raising.

Alternative Title(s): Bokutachi Wa Benkyou Ga Dekinai, We Cant Study

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