“No matter how much of a genius you are, if you can’t do what you want to do, you can never really be happy.”
This is a bit of a step outside of the normal for me. Usually, I prefer to watch anime with my attention span for manga being notoriously short. I’ve begun to notice this change in the last couples, looking back at my 2-day binge of 100 chapters of JoJo and a few other instances. But, that’s besides the point I’m getting at with this write-up. A couple days ago, I was browsing my YouTube feed and found a video on the current state of Shonen Jump, which I would highly recommend even if you don’t read Shonen Jump as it is an interesting look at the history of the publication. In that video, YouTuber “Super Eyepatch Wolf” discussed some of the six manga that have premiered under Shonen Jump’s Jump Start program. Among them, one particular title caught my eye under the title of We Can’t Study. Describing it as a rom-com with beautiful artwork and endearing characters, my interest was piqued and I decided to give it a try. The manga has 16 chapters released as of this week, with myself having read fifteen, and it’s safe to say I’ve fallen in love. So, what is it about this study-related high school comedy that’s drawn me in so much? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Story and Characters
So, as is to be expected from this type of manga, the story is pretty simple. We start our story following high-school student Yuiga Nariyuki, a third-year self-proclaimed “prodigy of the common folk” who has discarded hanging out with friends and hanging friends in order to focus on his studies. Due to his family’s poor status. Yuiga works hard towards his dream of being nominated by his school, the illustrious Ichinose Academy, to receive full payments of university tuition by his school. To this end, Yuiga enters into an interview for the nomination, where he is conditionally accepted by the school’s headmaster under the condition that he tutors two of the school’s most renowned geniuses. Yuiga quickly learns the difficulty of the task ahead, as each of the two girl geniuses intend to apply for subjects opposite from their specialty and in which each is considerably weaker.
While the story is simple enough, the characters are what make We Can’t Study really shine. As I mentioned, Yuiga Nariyuki is the third-year “prodigy of the common folk”. He prides himself on his hard work getting him far in life, while also being the oldest child of a poor household. His father is revealed to have died, leaving the family’s mother to support their four children. For this reason, Yuiga strives to get a good education in order to have a solid income and allow his family to live a better life. The first of the two geniuses introduced is the “Clockwork Thumbelina”, Rizu Ogata. She is a math and science genius with a frank, curt attitude who desires to pursue a career in literature, despite her lack of polish in the field. Rizu won me over very fast with her short but charming personality and she has quickly become a personal favorite of mine, with her focus chapters being among my favorites of the manga so far. On the other end of the spectrum, we have “The Sleeping Beauty of Letters”, Fumino Furuhashi. Furuhashi is a literary genius, rated top of the class in literature, who desires to attend university for science. Fumino is an aloof airhead who has a charming innocence to her personality. The interaction between the characters run the gamut from cute to comedic to heartwarming and each chapter kept me wanting more.
Unlike with my anime reviews, there isn’t anything to talk about in terms of animation. But, what we can look at is the gorgeous art of We Can’t Study. The manga artist for We Can’t Study is Taishi Tsutsui, whose most recognized work is likely the magical girl spin-off to Nisekoi, Magical Patissiere Kosaki-chan. Speaking of Nisekoi, there seems to be some definite inspiration taken from Naoshi Komi’s popular romantic comedy in the art department as the artstyle of We Can’t Study sticks with a very similar style. The character designs are exquisite, especially in larger panels focusing entirely on the character’s facial expressions. Each design is unique enough from one another to be memorable in their own right and create for some really great and expressive characters in terms of both their outfit designs and their facial expressions. While not breaking free of the style of its long-running Jump predecessor, We Can’t Study carries on the character style and charm of Nisekoi.
Should You Read It?
I hate to keep making the comparison, but if you liked Nisekoi, I definitely think you will be a fan of We Can’t Study. Yuiga is still the “dense protagonist” archetype, but doesn’t fulfill it as much as other MCs and has his own very clear and defined goals and a growth in his character as the story progresses. Rizu and Fumino, and the later-introduced Uruka, make for an entertaining supporting cast that makes each chapter entertaining and better than the last one. What I appreciated in particular about We Can’t Study comes through the involvement of the characters and how they come to interact with one another. In this kind of story, it is common to have a school club be some kind of connecting factor, but the idea of Yuiga acting as a tutor and mentor for the two geniuses makes their relationship as characters unique and creates plenty of opportunity for both comedic and heartwarming moments. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by We Can’t Study through the chapters I’ve read so far and I would definitely give it a recommendation to fill a desire for a fun, light-hearted romantic comedy.
(Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai/We Can’t Study is available under its English title, We Never Learn, through VIZ Media, though only the first three chapters are available)