First Impressions: My Neighbor Seki

Tonari_no_Seki-kun_mangaSeveral months ago we bought the first volume of the manga, from which this anime was adapted, in Japanese. Not that either of us can read it, but if you’ve seen a little of the anime, you’ll understand that the text isn’t that important. Anyway, when we found out that it was airing this winter, there was no doubt that we should watch it. Today I’ll be covering the first three episodes. Since they are just under 8 minutes each (including the opening and ending songs), I’ve decided I can fit them into a single post. I usually expect anime with short episodes like this to originate from yonkoma manga, but My Neighbor Seki has a regular manga structure, only with exceptionally short chapters (about 8 pages) called 1st period, 2nd period and so on.

Short summary from AniDB: “In the middle of class at a certain school, Yokoi Rumi, a diligent student, has her in-class life turned upside-down when her next-door desk mate Seki Toshinari begins to play by himself at his desk in class. Although Yokoi is irked by Seki’s distracting yet intricate playtime, she finds herself being drawn into his interesting hobby. Never being able to focus, Yokoi observes Seki’s stunning ways of slacking off in class.”

The anime follows the manga quite closely, but it still adds new elements. I especially enjoy the OP and ED. The former shows Seki-kun playing and making the anime in class, from storyboards and drawing frames on a lightboard to recording Yokoi’s lines. The ED shorter, but still nice, with Seki playing the drums part by banging a number of pencilcases, beakers and more school supplies with his pencils.

Since all the events take place during lessons, there is not much voice-acting needed except for Yokoi. Her internal commentary makes up most of the script. Other than that, we need teachers’ seiyuus, who call on Yokoi when she is preoccupied by Seki’s whimsical activities. Seki-kun himself doesn’t talk, unless you consider a sigh or ‘pssts!’ talking. He still needs a seiyuu though.

What stroke me as interesting is that Yokoi is voiced by Kana Hanazawa, aka HanaKana. She’s a well-known voice-actress, who lent her lovely voice to Mato Kuroi, the main character of Black Rock Shooter, or Yukino-sensei, the female lead of Shinkai’s Garden of Words. I never would have expected her to work in such a minor anime, but here it is and it’s nice. On top of that Seki-kun’s grunts are voiced by Hiro Shimono. Hanazawa and Shimono have worked on several anime together – they were Shiori x Keima (TWGOK), Zange x Jin (Kannagi), Mifune x Daichi (Kotoura-san) or Yuki x Tetsu (Cencoroll).

Below are my succinct notes on each of the three episodes. Beware of spoilers!


1st period: Dominos

A seesaw, S-curves, an overpass and finally a steep climb to a ropeway, that I didn’t capture in the above screenshot.

The only other thing I would like to comment on in this episode is how quickly Seki-kun clears away the erasers and lays out his notes when Yokoi tries to point out that it’s his fault for distracting her that she isn’t paying attention in class.


2nd period: Shogi

In the second episode Seki-kun role-plays with his shogi pieces an intriguing wartime tale complete with betrayal, cowardice and trapdoors for exemplary killings. Such flawless execution! Such marvelous pacing! And of course Yokoi’s final blow to the immoral general/king was the high-point of his performance.


3rd period: Desk Polishing

After the previous week’s shogi theater, this episode was a bit lukewarm, but not much can beat Seki’s warring armies. I pity the boy sitting in front of Seki-kun whose back was peppered with putty. I also wonder if static electricity can really work that way…

Have you watched it? Did I omit anything you found out of the ordinary?


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