Show: Tonari no Seki-kun — Genre: Comedy — Episodes: 21
Hello everyone! This week I’m going to be reviewing Tonari no Seki-kun となりの関くん (My Neighbor Seki), also called Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time. Based on the manga of the same name that started in 2010, the show was released weekly from January through May of 2014. Each of the 21 episodes is a mere 8 minutes long, including opening and ending themes; however, they are packed full of delightful moments that will stay with you well after the episode is over.
In it, we follow Yokoi Rumi, a normal girl simply trying to pay attention in class from the back row. She constantly struggles with trying not to be distracted by her classmate, Seki Toshinari, who sits in the very back corner of the room, near the window, out of sight of their teacher. The episodes deal almost exclusively with these two, although there are a few other passing characters here and there. Instead of paying any attention in class whatsoever, Seki is constantly using banned materials to create his own entertainment.
From an elaborate domino chain reaction that Yokoi is certain will end in an explosion to an intricately crafted driving school for his tiny RC car to run through, it becomes impossible for Yokoi to look away. There are paper sumo matches, Shogi vs. Chess piece battles, a robot family picnic. The show certainly does not lack creativity. She cannot help but narrate the activities on his desk in her own mind (to the audience) and becomes completely consumed by her classmate’soutlandish behavior. Of course, if anyone gets caught acting strangely, it is inevitably Yokoi, despite her best efforts to stay focused on the lesson.
I started this series as something to watch while I was waiting for my simulcast shows to get posted, but I ended up seeking it out for its own sake. It’s clever, original, and makes a ton of references to Japanese popular culture. Personally, I kept a browser tab open so I could look things up as they became relevant. The show references a lot of unfamiliar cultural practices, but skims over them in a way that wasn’t off-putting. Throughout the season, I felt very engaged in the story. For instance, I didn’t know all the rules to Shogi, but when an episode came up revolving around the game pieces, I didn’t feel alienated by my lack of knowledge. I felt included in Seki’s subversive playtime during class. The whole season made me feel like I was part of someterrific secret. I learned a lot about day to day social life for middle schoolers in Japan without the typical slice of life drama that comes with most of the shows I’ve watched focused on that age group.All in all, I give Tonari no Seki-kun 8 out of 10 Golden Tanukis. It was super entertaining, gave me more than one good chuckle, and I (rather unexpectedly) even learned a few things. You can watch it here-> http://www.crunchyroll.com/
Stephanie is a UF alumnus who enjoys baking, reading, cats, and the internet. Also anime. OK mostly anime.