The original manga revolves around a girl named Yokoi who sits next to a boy only known as Seki-kun. During class, Seki-kun continues to not pay attention and instead creates amazing little distractions, such as a detailed golf course with the course's hole being a dent in his desk, or an entire dramatic war being played out by paper shogi pieces. Yokoi often finds herself getting reluctantly interested in his games, even though they always seem to end up getting HER in trouble with the teacher!
Creativity, a simple word that inspires so much innovative ideas from anyone, anywhere, anytime. What inspires creativity varies but for a young boy named Toshinari Seki, he takes it to astronomical levels that goes far beyond what you may be used to seeing at school. As a master of killing time, Seki lives up his reputation of such a title. For a 7-minute anime series, there’s so much attention Seki can attract towards its audience.
When it comes to killing time, you would do something inventive, something creative, or anything that will prevent you from saying along the lines of ‘it’s so boring, there’s nothing
to do’. For Seki, there’s a chance for that in his class every single day because he sits in the very back corner. As a kid of his age, Seki can be described as a simple yet curious character. He isn’t very interested in his studies by the way he behaves in class. Looking it from an intrinsic perspective, Seki is an average boy with nothing that stands out with his character or personality. Rather, he prefers to be alone by his activities. Of course, that’s perfectly normal because kids his age are growing up and build their characters. Seki is also more of the shy boy with his lack of dialogues. More often or not, he communicates using body language (gestures, signals, etc) that somehow makes its point. Rather than being intellectual, this series takes Seki and presents him as a bizarre yet likable character with his actions.
Then, we have Rumi Yokoi, the not-so-fortunate girl sitting next to Seki. Similar to Seki, she is the typical average girl without the glorifying looks or an abnormal personality. Yet, she is similar in some ways to Seki as characterized by her curiosity. Despite trying to ignore Seki’s actions in class, she often finds herself unable to but instead entranced by his activities. It’s humorous in many ways because almost everything that Seki does tends to draw her attention. At the same time, Yokoi often gets into trouble by the teacher and mistakenly being labeled as a troublemaker. For Yokoi, it becomes a chore for her every class period to deal with Seki. On some instances, she seems to tolerate or even embrace Seki’s culture. Other times, she overestimates Seki’s intentions that results into a scolding by the adults. There’s a lot of anxiety each episode seeing Yokoi and her reactions towards how she perceives Seki in class. Furthermore, it’s surprisingly noticeable to see her character develop. This is evidenced as Yokoi seemingly grows stronger with every class period or episode. She is able to resist some her curiosity or even close to stopping Seki from goofing off in class. Unfortunately, she never seems to reach home base with her goals because time is simply not her side.
The series adapts itself in an episodic format. Given its average 7-8 minute standard, viewers should not expect an engaging linear story saturated with complexity. Instead, do expect a slice of life story featuring Seki as he kills time in his boring class. What you might not expect is the activities he does in class when the teacher is not looking. Some of them might seem typical while others are not. Examples including bring live animals, performing experiments, and in general any activities that would earn you a trip to the principal’s office if caught. The humorous part is that Seki NEVER gets caught. Throughout the series, it is Yokoi that becomes the collateral damage because of Seki’s innovations. Not only that but no one believes a word she says. It aims at the purpose to appeal to the audience that the adults of this show are useless and self-insufficient. If every student could get away with Seki’s behavior, then nothing would ever be learned. But as an experimental show, Seki’s activities encourages creativity and even inspiration. It’s clear that the boy is intelligent because some of the games he engages in are fundamentally impossible, at least in realistic levels such as mixing chess and shogi on the same board. For Yokoi, she often formulates imaginations and delusions at her own discretions from the way Seki kills time.
As a show of weird quirks, there are occasionally some characters that comes into the scenes to bring a little normalcy. I don’t classify them as supporting characters since most of them tend to enter and exit after the period/episode is over. Yet, there is one other character that is worth noting. Her name is Goto and like most girls her age is interested in relationships rather than her education. Make no mistake, her delusions can be as zany as Yokoi in class. Rather than being curious at Seki’s ingenious games, she is more interested in their “relationship”. This is in quotation marks because Seki and Yokoi are not dating. Yet, there are people that thinks they are dating for bizarre reasons. Further evidenced are some hints that Yokoi might see Seki as more than just a classmate. However, the show focuses more on its comedy and less so on a Romeo & Juliet story.
Of all the silliness that the show brings in, it’s all presented as simplistic. It’s not realistic with some of Yokoi’s games that seems unconventional. Yet, they are practical and influences Yokoi’s school life at various levels. The story itself is rather too simple and may seems repetitive. Yokoi getting accused of being a troublemaker in class can also seem bizarre considering girls are often the ones that are more peaceful. Not only that but she doesn’t understand Seki’s purpose which is also a bit of an overstatement. We might never understand Seki’s purpose beyond the simple idea of ‘killing time’. The lack of character backgrounds such as their childhoods being explored also becomes a drawback. Finally, the humor of this show might not appeal to everyone. In essence, it’s a comedy show that inspires laughter but not everyone may get used to Seki’s quirky activities in class.
Both artwork and soundtrack are consistent with this short series. In essence, they are simple and down to earth. The classroom backgrounds is straight point forward with nothing particular that stands out. It’s probably best to just call it ‘just there’ because Seki’s activities are what draws in the audience and his classmate. The character designs also seems normal except maybe some slightly physical aspects for Yokoi. In retrospect, we don’t see a girl with white hair often in class that goes unnoticed. On the other hand, the soundtrack is very noticeable for both its OP and ED songs with slightly edited changes throughout the show. Instrumentally, it has a melodious tone with comical backgrounds. We see both main characters in the songs as they demonstrate degrees of humor. The ED song features Seki playing an instrument to create the style that Tonari-Seki Kun accomplishes – innovational humor. Kana Hanazawa plays the role of Yokoi with her nervous yet curious voice mannerisms. It matches well since she is specialized in voicing girls of shy characters. On the other hand, Seki’s voice is hardly ever heard throughout the series. His body language does the talking.
7 minutes. That’s all it takes to draw in as much as attention for Seki towards an audience. There’s no need for a deep engaging story because shows like this should be presented with simplicity. While the activities that Seki performs can be complex, it’s easy to see what the show tries to accomplish. And that goal was achieved by bringing in humor in a different way that what you may be used to. No absurd fan service. No shock values. No crude humor. Rather, it’s a show that breaks down the barriers of a normal school life. Now, that’s a certain kind of fun.
Remember this show? Two months have passed since the short series came to a close which was bittersweet after it became something I really looked forward to weekly. It's premiere from early Winter was overshadowed by numerous series such as the highly anticipated Space Dandy, the popular Noragami along with the highly favored RomCom in Nisekoi. But one of the highlights as a avid fan of anime is discovering a diamond in the rough, a series that looks nothing but ordinary at first glance but later discover it's something truly remarkable and worthwhile. After the end of each episode, there is three words that always
come to mind - Originality, Creativity and Fun.
Adapted from Takuma Morishige's manga in episodic format, Tonari no Seki-kun is a 7-minute-episode short series that follows two school students who are responsible for creating some of the most memorable and hilarious moments this year. It all begins with Rumi Yokoi who strives to be a model student and pay attention in class but, unfortunately for her, she sits right next to Toshinari Seki, who likes to play with toys, stationery and games on his desk rather than focus in class with his studies. Seki's activities almost always results in distracting Yokoi and pull her focus away from her studies which normally ends with her getting in to trouble with the Teacher. This is basically the premise of the show but it's the creative and innovative activities presented that makes it so good.
Even though it's episodic structured, there is actually a progressive continuity and even some form of a narrative here. It's scattered throughout the series and relies on calling back to events from prior episodes like the "Shougi games" based episodes and most notably the episodes that focus on Seki's family of "Transformer toys". There is even a loose plot involving the rumor that Yokoi and Seki love each other carried on through the eyes of their classmate Sakurako Goto. Coming back to these events only adds to the fun experience you had previously, making them a lot more memorable.
Seki is just like any ordinary person, he doesn't stand out much and keeps to himself, people really don't notice him. Because of this, Seki is able to get away with killing time in class with his usual antics. An advantage he has to avoiding being noticed by the teacher is that he sits right at the back of the classroom in the very corner. Seki is able to turn the mundane into something very entertaining and funny. I'm talking about things such as making a flipbook, polishing a desk, wearing glasses, running a postal service, and even taking a driving license test. Seki's creativity knows no limits, it is sheer brilliance. Even though it is shown that he easily get's off-task and doesn't take his studies seriously, through these activities we can easily see that he is a very smart person.
A large portion of the comedy comes from Yokoi's own imagination going into overload whenever she gets absorbed into Seki's antics. Such as picturing epic battles and romantic dramas between fully clad samurai when all Seki was doing was playing with Shogi pieces, or imagining a miniature teddy bear making a tense climb up a mountain when Seki was really just making it climb up the back of the guy in front of him. Yokoi actually likes being a part of Seki's shenanigans. She's hooked on the buzz, an adrenaline addict, and Seki is her fix. If you don't get that, you don't get Tonari no Seki-kun - and then it's just a mildly amusing face about a middle-schooler screwing around at his desk.
The visuals and animation are standard but are clean and consistent. There are no drips and drops with the quality. The character designs are rather basic, but something refreshing is definitely Yokoi's design. White hair is not something you see very often for a female character and another point are the visuals for the characters reactions to certain scenarios. Just the way they are drawn is quite comical. In the sound department, the score soars! Both OP and ED are quite clever, the OP displays what the series is all about, it shows Seki getting upto to his usual antics and Yokoi reacting to them along with a upbeat and catchy tune. The ED just adds another touch to the creativity side of things and it very well maybe one of the most creative ones around, the song is called, "Set them free" by Akira Jimbo. A lot of praise must go to Yokoi's voice actress and she almost carries the show alone in the very popular Kana Hanazawa who nails the character perfectly and is easily goes through a wide variety of emotions and makes the reactions of Yokoi's character priceless.
Tonari no Seki-kun - Master of Short Series Format! This could very much be true. It's able to utilize every second of the 7 minutes effectively and is consistent. The formula Shin-Ei Animation has for this show has resulted to creating one of the few series where there isn't really negatives or a "bad" episode. Sure there are some episodes that are more enjoyable than others but with the consistency and creativity each episode holds along with the good pacing allows the viewer to enjoy each one just as much. There's some incredibly incisive observational comedy about the differences between boys and girls, and the relationship between Seki and Yokoi specifically is layered, fascinating and hilarious.
I could go as far to call this show flawless, it doesn't do anything wrong and achieves everything it set out to do and be perfectly. With that said, it makes this show easily recommendable and I do believe it can also be a recommendation as a good gateway series to anime simply because it's hilarious, entertaining and a lot of fun to all audiences. It may be short, but Tonari no Seki-kun definitely punches above its weight class.
WARNING: Avoid drinking anything while watching. This show is not liable for any snorting of said drink. Side effects may include stomach aches from giggle-fits and shortness of breath...
Story: 8/10 There is a special charm that only short anime possess, such as Hetalia, Chi's Sweet Home and Miss Monochrome. Among these easy-to-watch shows is Tonari no Seki-kun, whose episodes are a mere 7 minutes in length. Each segment is episodic without much of an overlying plot, although there are recurring themes. A creative boy named Seki-kun brings in nick-nacks to class and messes around with them rather than pay attention. Yokoi-san, the girl who sits
next to him, reluctantly gets drawn into his activities. Her inner monologue of observations explain his schemes and give significance to small changes. Sitting at the very back of the classroom, the other students and teachers take no notice of whatever dramatic occurrence is taking place; when they do, it usually takes form in some misunderstanding. Much to her chagrin, Seki-kun never gets caught, while Yokoi manages to get in trouble instead. The fact that the two take each situation so seriously only amps up the amusement.
Art: 7/10 There is nothing very special about the animation, except for when it focuses on the games. The art does justice to Seki-kun's elaborate hobbies. The colors are light and happy, and the expressions of the characters take form in comedic ways. The only noteworthy character design is Yokoi, who sports white hair and a candy-colored girl's school uniform. The more detailed manga panels translate cleanly in the adaption. Overall, the simple style works wonders for the anime's simple premise.
Sound: 9/10 The opening is sung by the voice actor of Yokoi, and it's basically her general reactions to Seki-kun's antics. The frantic stream of thought within each verse is sung in one breath, and the fast paced vocals are complimented by lighthearted music. I have never once thought of skipping it. The ending is also addictive, with Seki-kun drumming on his pencil cases and school supplies.
Seki-kun never speaks, so you won't hear much of the seiyuu except for occasional grunts or laughter. Yokoi, on the other hand, is the prominent narrator. Kana Hanazawa does a wonderful job portraying Yokoi, but I did find her voice to be slightly annoying. It's a teeny-tiny mar to the overall execution.
Character: 9/10 You really wonder why a genius like Seki-kun doesn't put his talents and energy into other skills rather than waste time. The audience quickly sympathizes with Yokoi's plight, but like her, are drawn into every game. As the series progresses, we see that Yokoi starts to become more and more involved with Seki-kun's various distractions. This however would be the extent of any character development. I fell in love with this adorable duo almost instantly and I'd like the anime to speak for itself. Supporting characters have a tiny role, but they are amusing additions to the plot nonetheless.
Enjoyment: 10/10 This could potentially be the best comedy of the season, no joke. I'm really grateful to my little brother who introduced me to Tonari no Seki-kun. I'd definitely use some of the nifty ideas to pass time myself if I didn't get caught. Anyone who can pull off the antics should have the right to wear a T-shirt that says "Seki-kun like a boss." The style of humor is somewhat similar to that found in Azumanga Daioh or Lucky Star. I swear, it'll brighten up your entire day =D
Overall: 9/10 Oh gosh, I've started rambling. Anyway - I totally recommend this (especially to younger demographics and people who haven't seen anime before) if your looking for something family-friendly. It's an automatic favorite. Thank you for reading this review and happy laughing.
Each short episode of Tonari no Seki-kun is built on a similar foundation: Seki plays some comically elaborate game in the middle of class, and Yokoi, his more studious neighboring classmate, invariably gets sucked into what he's doing, to the point where she often becomes even more invested in it than him. That’s it. This seems like a fairly limited premise, but it provides a great framework with a surprising amount of comedic range for Seki to play in. The results are almost always a blast.
The games Seki plays each episode range from staging complex, twist-laden wars with unconventional shogi play to bringing an actual
bag full of cats into class. There are episodes where he’s seen building crazy Rube Goldberg machines right in the middle a lecture. He never really speaks outside of determined grunts and the like, but there’s a ton of expression put into the way he reacts to the various scenarios he concocts. There’s a sadistic edge to how he goes about his games and the way he crafts his fiction that makes him a great foil for Yokoi to play off of.
Yokoi's reactions to these scenarios are diverse and keep her from becoming a stock overreaction character. More of a protagonist than Seki is, the episodes are generally filled with her internal narrations. She’s sometimes quite taken by Seki's more sensitive side, only to be crushed when he reverts to his usual, harsher self. Other times the plots of Seki's games become so grim that she finds herself becoming engaged in them, in an attempt to steer them towards happier directions. There’s a running gag involving a robot family that Seki often brings to class, for example, that he often puts in dangerous situations or will just mistreat in general. Yokoi gets really attached to Seki’s narrative for this family and will put herself at risk of being caught by the teacher just to help sway their fate in the direction she wants. Of course Seki doesn’t just take this lying down and it becomes a fun battle for the outcome of these toy robots. And this is all while she’s trying her best to study! It’s a lot of fun seeing the creative ways she gets whisked away from this each episode. They play off each other really well and make for a great comedic duo. Also Yokoi is like totes adorbs.
Presentation works wonders in capturing the comedic idiosyncrasies of the scenarios. The dramatic score and aggrandizing theatrics elevate these silly games to the status of tense, mortal conflicts. Effortlessly pulling the audience into the characters' skewed sense of priority; the result is entertaining at every turn. Kana Hanazawa puts in a great performance as Yokoi, capturing the huge swings in emotion that Seki puts her through wonderfully. Fans of silly faces will find a lot to like here as well, as the show has a huge array of them that it uses really well to heighten the comedy. There are many places in the show where the creators went above and beyond, like giving the robot family their own theme song in the style of old mecha anime, or depicting shogi games as actual wars, acting out Seki’s stories. Even the OP and ED play out like skits from the show. The OP in particular is a clever meta piece about Seki actually animating Tonari no Seki-kun in class. A lot of subtle ingenuity went into making this simple premise a lot more than it seems.
If there’s anything to complain about in this show, it’s that the show does have some rare instances where the punchlines can start to feel a bit samey. There are some recurring skits and although they still remain endearing, the edge of their punchlines are dulled on each successive rehash. It’s nothing too bad though and the short run time of the episodes makes these skits more of a fleeting occurrence before you’re back to something new again, but several of them did start to lose a bit of their luster for me by the end. They might even give the series a nice sense of continuity for some though, so your mileage may vary.
Minor quibbles aside, this is an incredibly solid comedy. Seki and Yokoi have a great dynamic together and the show by and large does a superb job giving them varied situations to bring out the most in their personalities. Coupled with the grand presentation of it all, it’s easy to be whisked away into Seki’s antics just as Yokoi is. I doubt many will regret their time playing with Seki, especially without the risk of being caught by the teacher.
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