BokuBen Series

Anime Hajime Review: We Never Learn

Original Run: April 7, 2019 - June 30, 2019
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Comedy, Harem, Romance
Based on the Series Created By: Taishi Tsutsui

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Nariyuki Yuiga (voiced by Ryota Osaka) is an above-average student. Although he isn’t gifted in any one particular subject, he is well versed in most. This has put him on the path for a free ride to attend university. There is just one catch. He must become the tutor of three geniuses.

Rizu Ogata (voiced by Miyu Tomita) is basically a human calculator. She can easily solve any equation near instantly. However, her heart isn’t with numbers, it’s with people. Unfortunately, Rizu is atrocious at every subject that isn’t math or science.

Fumino Furuhashi (voiced by Haruka Shiraishi) is a natural poet and linguist. The written and spoken word are hers to command. Still, she has always found peace when looking up at the stars and hopes to study them one day. Sadly, astronomy requires math, and math is the one language that is utterly foreign to her.

Uruka Takemoto (voiced by Sayumi Suzushiro) is a swimming ace, as well as an all-around athlete. She is set to attend any college of her choice on a sports scholarship. The problem is, the school she really wants to go to requires high scores in English. And to put it simply: Uruka don’t English good.

To ensure his own future, Nariyuki must somehow lead these three girls to theirs. Along the way, though, he becomes far closer to each of them than he ever would have thought possible.

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Series Positives

Although adhering to this has bitten me in the butt many, many times in the past, there is a reason why I still and will always obligate myself to finish every series I start. You simply never know what’s going to happen. For example, some shows kick off strong only to then pitter out. Others maintain momentum – either positively or negatively – from beginning to end. But most crucially, though, the primary purpose of my Finishing Rule is to give stories the chance to become something worth watching.

And that was precisely what happened with Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (BBD).

In all honesty, it took a while for this show to impress me. Granted, this series was never bad, and that was undoubtedly a plus. However, it was painfully average – initially. To give you an idea of just how average things were, the basic premise of BBD – a tutor who finds himself in an unexpected harem situation with his beautiful pupils – has already been done in 2019.

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For those of you who recall, Gotoubun no Hanayome came and went. Although that show was more than serviceable, its blandness caused me to forget about it. This is the level of meh I’m referring to. It took watching another anime with a similar idea for me to remember a series I saw only five months prior to this post.

Consequently, I wasn’t expecting the world from BBD. The way I saw it, if this show was merely passable (and that wasn’t a very high bar), I could, at a minimum, get some temporary enjoyment from it and then move on to better things. I was positive that was what was going to take place. Had you told me this was to be a split-cour series (an anime broken into two full, nonconsecutive seasons), I would have probably laughed in your face. That was especially true given the paint-by-numbers nature of the first few episodes.

Accordingly, I would have then ended with egg on my face.

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Having now finished this series, not only do I think it was incredibly strong, I am eagerly anticipating its continuation. And if what I hear is accurate, that continuation, at the time of this review going live, is set for a fall 2019 release.

If there is one thing you need to know about BBD, it’s that it slowly sinks its hooks into you. If your experience is anything like mine, there will come the point where you’ll ask yourself, “How and when did I become this invested?”

My dear readers, that phenomenon is the byproduct of this series’ characters. This show developed an outstanding cast. “Developed” being the keyword because please remember, don’t let first impressions be your only guide. Things did stay relatively predictable throughout a decent portion of this show. Then, to my utter bewilderment, BBD did something I wasn’t expecting.

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This was a harem anime, but it was a harem anime that remained sort of ambiguous. In most other shows in this genre, stories are either extremely opened ended, or everything is filler when all the eggs are clear in a single basket. BBD was different (or is shaping up to be different) because there is legitimate competition between the harem suitors. No one person is clearly ahead in advancing their relationship with Nariyuki.

And the strange thing was, BBD was not heavy-handed about this. Okay, maybe saying “not heavy-handed” is a little misleading. Many of the circumstances in this series came about because that’s how these types of anime operate. Nevertheless, particularly in the last few episodes, I believed what I saw, and I think the likelihood of Nariyuki actually making a choice in season two is a real possibility.

You simply don’t see this in harem anime. I can count on half a hand how many shows have had a harem center reject all other suitors to only chose one.

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Now here is where things in this series got interesting. If I had to take a guess who Nariyuki will choose, well, that was the best part of BBD. I can make an argument for each girl – minus Nariyuki’s teacher, Mafuyu Kirisu (voiced by Lynn), because please don’t do that show. But since I don’t want to drag out this review, I will only focus on the original three – Miyu Tomita, Fumino Furuhashi, and Uruka Takemoto.

Of the trio, I think Miyu would be the safest bet. She was the first love interest introduced, and that is a distinct advantage. She was also the first character to have her route explored. Miyu is also the only one of the three who isn’t sure how to classify her feelings towards Nariyuki. Therefore, she could easily just be crushing on him. Nevertheless, since Miyu is a bit of a blank slate (more on this later), you can’t count her out.

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Then there is Fumino, who, if I had my way, would be the person I would like to see with Nariyuki. On top of being my favorite character in the show, she was also a reliable voice of reason. Because Fumino was very adept at reading people, she was always quick to piece together what was going on. Not only that, she actually claimed to have no romantic feelings towards Nariyuki. Wait? How does that strengthen her case? It’s simple, really. I’m not sure if I believe her, and my uncertainty comes from Fumino’s own unsureness.

Additionally, it was Fumino who managed to trigger the biggest laugh out of me. That has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but it would have felt wrong not to mention it.

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Finally, Uruka is the one who definitely put in the most work. And sadly, that is all I am willing to talk about on the matter. I wish I could elaborate more, but there was a scene that comes to mind, and it was quite good. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. All I will say is, how Uruka plans to grow closer to Nariyuki is one of the main elements I am looking forward to the most in the next installment of BBD.

To claim this show was a surprise would be an understatement. There was a lot of foundation this season set up. If for some reason chapter two doesn’t come, then BBD will immediately crumble under the weight of its lost potential. I am hoping that doesn’t happen.

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Series Negatives

BBD is one of those shows I am hesitant to critique. Going back to my Finishing Rule, this is a story which has not yet reached its end. With season two on the horizon, who knows what may come of the legacy of this, its predecessor.

I firmly believe that judging a narrative before it has the chance to say everything it wants to say can lead to premature, not to mention faulty, criticism. This first season was strong enough to have earned the benefit of doubt.

So, keep that in mind throughout the rest of this section. It is possible that whatever I am about to talk about will be proven moot soon. And in certain situations, I hope that is the case.

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BBD, as it stands now, could break away from the norms associated with the harem anime genre. There are currently setups in this story that can make this series different and unique. For instance, what if Fumino and Nariyuki just stay friends? Think about it.

We would have a main male and female character in a harem series without any romantic feelings between them. As the alternative, they remain a strong team that can rely on one another to help navigate through potential future drama. BBD can become an exception that proves a predominate character, who is of the sex the harem center is attracted to, doesn’t need to automatically be a suitor. Instead, they can be their own separate entity.

I am all for it, and yet, I have zero confidence BBD is going to go down this path. Why? It’s because this season never fully committed to such a possibility. This series kept the option of a Fumino-Nariyuki pairing very much alive.

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This might (and probably will) become a huge shame since the reason I saw any form of hope was due to BBD beginning to make Fumino that special kind of character.

Now, to give this series some slack, if what I’m saying does come true, it will only be unfortunate. It will not be the cause to disregard this story.

 What will do THAT is if BBD begins to ignore the majority of the characters it introduced. And I’m particularly worried this could happen because I started to see it happen with Miyu.

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In the first part of this show, Miyu was the clear and obvious focus. Much of the series’ attention went to her. This was also when BBD was at its most generic, which is most likely not a coincidence. Be that as it may, my point still stands. By the end of this season, Uruka had overtaken Miyu as the main love interest.

While this transition was occurring, someone like Fumino stayed in the forefront, mainly due to the reasons I stated earlier in this section. Most other characters did fine as well since they only served in secondary roles, and thus, pushing them to the sidelines wasn’t that big of a deal. However, Miyu – one of the original trio – became irrelevant.

The good news is, this is fixable. Season two needs to bring Miyu back into the fold. If it fails to do so, then I don’t see why BBD wouldn’t do this again with another character. And if it does do that, those ramifications, based on where this installment ended, will be devastating.

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Final Thoughts

I never would have predicted it. I went into this series expecting nothing. Now I’m sitting here anticipating its coming sequel.

Strange how things work out, isn’t it?

This show took me off guard with its fun characters and its potential. Here is a chance for a harem anime to break away from the expected.

However, there is an equally likely chance everything might head down a frustratingly bland road.

Until we know for sure, though, Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai has earned a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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