Anime, Watch This Anime!

We Never Learn: What is a BOKUBEN?

I have been asking myself that question from episode one and I will be asking it until I die. Or at least until I forget about the show entirely. Which probably won’t take all that long.

Harem shows are, at least in my mind, the bottom of the barrel for romance anime. Granted, they’re still enjoyable on an ironic level, at least most of the time. But there are very few harem shows that I genuinely enjoy watching.

But then the Quintessential Quintuplets came out. It pleasantly surprised me by having genuinely interesting characters, a cute romance that had me engaged from start to end (Miku is best girl, fight me), and some genuinely chuckle-worthy jokes. To my surprise, I was hooked on a harem show and now I’m genuinely excited for the second season!

Unfortunately, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about We Never Learn today. Or as I like to call it: QQ but less good.

Now, I want to preface something before we start. I do enjoy some aspects of this show. Some of the jokes are hilarious (at least when they aren’t just ‘oh look, boobs’, which they often are), there are some great story threads that are interesting and emotionally engaging (even if they’re buried beneath tons of repetitive, pointless, and awkward story beats) and the characters are all likable (which is the only point in this paragraph that doesn’t have a caveat attached to it). But for every positive I can give this show, there’s a negative attached to it.

But the real question is: where does the majority lay? The positive? Or the negative? Let’s take a look and see!

Plot: A Tutor and His Harem

Did you watch the Quintessential Quintuplets? Yeah, it’s that. Except the main character isn’t an asshole and the girls aren’t quintuplets. So it’s basically the same thing but without the little touches that made it interesting.

Nariyuki Yuiga is a hard-working boy from a poor family aiming for a good scholarship. One day, the headmaster of his high school offers him a recommendation that would all but assure him a spot in a prestigious college. The catch: he needs to tutor geniuses Fumino Furuhashi and Rizu Ogata in their weakest subjects, which they are incredibly awful at. Along the way, he’ll also start teaching a middle school friend, Uruka Takemoto, a swim-team prodigy who can’t speak English to save her life. Having been a poor student himself once upon a time, Yuiga is determined to help his three new pupils overcome their weaknesses and achieve their dreams. Hijinks ensue.

This show’s scenes go one of three ways. 1) the characters get into a misunderstanding that drives the plot. 2) the characters go someplace they’re not supposed to be (often in clothes they aren’t supposed to be in or in no clothes at all). 3) the characters have an emotional moment where their relationships deepen. The first two are the most frequently used by the show, taking up most of the run time every episode. The third is rare, but it is deeply appreciated when it does.

Because watching Yuiga accidentally stumble into a room where the scantily clad/naked girls are over and over again gets really old really quickly.

Pacing wise, this show is a bit rough. For the majority of the show, the plot has no real sense of progression aside from the slow progression through the school year. Then, in the final episode, the show breaks out into a mad sprint and races to the finish line, as if it were screaming “LET’S GET THIS FUCKING OVER WITH!!” and charges straight to the graduation! Which is really weird, considering that there’s still a fair bit of manga left, at least from what I’ve heard. I guess they just weren’t all that confident that they’d get another season. Unfortunately, this means we’re stuck with an incredibly unsatisfying ending that left me wanting more in a bad way.

Which is a damn shame, because I was invested in the story despite my gripes! The characters were all likable and fun! I liked each girl in the cast enough to root for them in their romantic quests! Some of the story arcs, such as Furuhashi’s fight with her dad, are actually really emotional and interesting! The story, if it didn’t rush to the end right at the last minute and had a bit more variety in the jokes, could have been great!

But hey. At least we’re still gonna get more Quintessential Quintuplets. Maybe that will fill the hole in my soul that this one left.

Visuals: Anime Without the Animation

Hoo fucking boy. Harem shows never really have good animation. It’s always minimalistic. But this? This takes it to a whole new level!

Art wise, this show isn’t all that bad. The character designs are simple but effective, with each one standing out on their own (though the bright, unnaturally colored hair certainly helps) while subtly hinting at various aspects of the character (Uruka’s tan hints at her role on the swim team, Rizu’s glasses give her a sort of mathematician/literary student look if you really stretch, so on and so forth). All of the environments look fairly nice and all the characters have a real sense of presence within it. If you were to look at a still image from the show, it would look fairly nice!

Shame it doesn’t look so good in motion.

At best, the animation is stiff and limited. You could practically see every keyframe if you look closely enough. The animators often try to hide it with dust clouds, close/distant camera angles, or quick cuts. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes they don’t.

Then there are the times the animators simply gave up. These are the times where we cut away to a random shot of the environment, overlay it with a chibi-head of one of the characters, and let the dialogue go until the scene ends. These chibi-heads wouldn’t be so bad, they’re a cliche of a lot of anime. The problem is that these chibi-heads have practically no color to them most of the time, which can make them a bit difficult to identify at times.

So it isn’t very impressive to look at. How’s the music? Eh. None of the tracks are especially bad, but none of them are all that memorable. It certainly doesn’t help that they’re often repeated numerous times per episode.

If you were expecting a show filled with mind-boggling sakuga, you’ll be thoroughly disappointed. It is a stiff and limited show. Sure, it’s not the worst looking show I’ve ever seen (Berserk 2016/17 still exists). But it isn’t pretty.

Granted; some of the visuals do sell some of the jokes. Like this one!

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Preach it, sister.

Conclusion

This show can be enjoyable to watch. I wouldn’t have finished it as quickly as I did if it didn’t. But there are so many problems that get on my nerves that drive me so far up the wall that I can’t stand it! It’s a great big bag of missed potential!

Which seems to be a theme for my anime reviews this month. I’ll try to be more positive next week, I swear!

I can’t recommend watching We Never Learn. It can be fun at times, but the list of problems far outweigh the list of positives. It isn’t the worst harem romance you’ll ever watch, but it is also far from the best (though the bar is pretty low). I didn’t want to kill myself while watching this show, but I highly doubt I’ll ever think about it again.

Unless they do make a second season and fix some of those issues. But I’m not getting my hopes up.

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