Tonari no Seki-kun (Merry Days of Anime 2022)

From one dropped manga to another. After only getting through one episode of Hakumei to Mikochi, I ended up giving Tonari no Seki-kun a spin—another anime adaptation of a manga I read to some degree. Unlike with the prior subject, however, I ended up getting fairly far with this one’s manga source. I knew a decent amount of the subject matter before going in.

What ended up surprising was just how little I remember from the manga. That is assuming, of course, that the anime didn’t make up content. The simple premise stays true, though it’s a little more involved than what I recall. Perhaps the manga simply ran its course too long and I found it too tedious; the anime ended up flowing at a pretty consistent, endearing pace.

Copy-Paste Synopsis

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!

AniList

Actual Review

Technically speaking, this series is 21 episodes long. What this information does not include is that each episode is only about eight minutes, including the opening and closing theme. As such, the amount of content available is about on par with six to seven episodes of a standard-length anime series. Given the type of anime this is, I believe this was a wise move.

To some degree, the premise to this reminds me somewhat of Aharen-san, where two characters ended up partaking in wacky daily events. Only major difference is that while Aharen-san has both characters on the same wavelength, Seki-kun is more of a one-man show, with the female lead constantly at odds with her counterpart’s behavior. Essentially, every episode goes off of this one joke: Seki goofs off and Yokoi can’t help but be enthralled against her better judgment.

It’s tough with an RC car.

Since each episode is (because I skip the opening and closing themes) about six minutes, it rarely ever feels as though the episodic appeal overstays its welcome. Some jokes are better than others, but duds don’t end up too much of a waste by comparison. And since it’s so short, they’re over and done with fairly quickly. It’s about as effective as one can showcase a one-gag manga in animated form.

That said, in terms of overall animation, it’s fairly lacking. There isn’t much of a “sheen” to these characters; they look like they could have been animated in the mid 2000’s. Outside of some of the more involved fantasies depicted, actual animation (y’know, “movement” and all that) is pretty choppy and uninspiring. I was almost convinced this was given to a low-budget amateur studio, but no, it’s Shin-Ei, notable for Crayon Shin-chan and Doraemon. Not their best effort…

For me, Seki-kun‘s quality can be boiled down to two things: Yokoi reacts to Seki’s antics (bad) and Yokoi interacts with Seki’s antics (good). Depending on the level in which Yokoi attempts to sabotage Seki’s, uh, “safe space”(?), the level of entertainment usually fluctuates with it. What I get out of this is seeing these two at odds, watching as they end up getting to know each other out of spite. That’s what makes the series appealing to me.

I dig the headband.

For example, one episode doesn’t include Yokoi at all. Seki is doing his own thing while a female side character watches from behind (with her own delusions). At one point, said side character inadvertently interacts with Seki without him being aware of it, breaking the flow of his activity. He immediately looks to the seat to his right (which is empty) and imagines Yokoi sneering at him, believing her spirit is responsible, and becomes terrified. That’s funny.

What generally isn’t is when Seki is doing something and Yokoi just watches and provides commentary. Yokoi on her own is not that interesting of a character. She’s a “Goodie two-shoes” character with a bit of a flair for drama. Her usual “Seki-kun! You shouldn’t be doing that! You’re gonna get in trouble!” copy-pasted script gets tiring pretty quickly. It’s when she takes destiny into her own hands and goes out of her way to enter Seki’s world that she (and the series) shines.

I believe it is for this reason that I eventually dropped the manga. More observation and less interaction, which eventually bored me to the point where I felt I was skimming chapters more than anything. With the short length of episodes, it was less of a strain to pay attention than it would’ve been if they were three times longer. For this (perhaps alone), the animated version becomes a nice alternative to the manga, even if it does not cover very much of the source.

Stay in your own lane!

Conclusion

As a short-form animated series, it has its charm. Though the premise is simple, there’s enough gusto to the main character interaction to evoke some charm. It’s inconsistent to some degree, unfortunately, which can sometimes cause the series to feel “streak-y”—some episodes are better than others. Also not terribly impressive from an animation standpoint, if that means anything to you. Still, the short length of episodes allows the pacing to soar. Nice to binge in an afternoon.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

For more anime reviews, check out the associated archive.

If reading this compelled you to give me a dollar, feel free to tip me on Ko-fi.

Thank you for your time. Have a great rest of your day.

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