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[Anime Review] Tonari no Seki-kun (2014-)

Official Website (Japanese)

Plot Summary:In the middle of class at a certain school, Rumi Yokoi, a diligent student, has her in-class life turned upside-down when her next-door desk mate "Seki" (full name Toshinari Seki) 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.

Director: Yuji Mutoh

Writer: Takuma Morishige (My Neighbor Seki based on manga by)

Episode Runtime: 8 minutes / 21 episodes

Episode Genre: comedy, slice of life

Studio: Shin-El Animation

English Network: Aniplus-Asia (broadcaster), Crunchyroll (streaming)

Main Cast:

  • Hiro Shimono as Toshinari Seki (voice)
  • Kana Hanazawa as Rumi Yokoi (voice)

Review: by Anthony, Kendrick, Nena and Paul

Who hasn't been bored in class before?  Imagine if rather than idly doodle or daydream you had a classmate that played epic games of chess, shogi, and dominoes during class.  This slice of life style anime Tonari no Seki-kun does just that.  Seki is the true master of killing time.

What We Liked:

Characters

Toshinari Seki is going to have to re-take all of his classes, because he doesn’t pay attention at all.  He’s truly the Master of Killing Time.  From playing Shogi, effectively running a Post Office, and playing desktop golf, he manages to shirk his classwork and stay busy playing the school day away.

We found it interesting that we never got to hear Seki-kun talk.  He laughs, growls, sighs, and makes other vocal noises but you never hear him speak any actual words.  The fact that they got a fairly high-profile voice actor (Hiro Shimono) to do just vocal noises for this role is also interesting.

As great as Seki is, Rumi Yokoi is the real star of the show.  It’s her imagination and interpretation of Seki’s antics that drive this anime.  She gets so distracted and involved each and every time. It’s awesome.

Plot

With this being a slice of life anime, there’s no really deep plot or huge story to follow along.  There’s just a series of small, hilarious situations and stories to be told.

Tonari no Seki-kun is a great show for so many reasons.  I (Kendrick) really like it because I identify so much with Yokoi. She is trying her best to pay attention in class but this guy, Seki, is having fun in his own world. It wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t put so much effort into his slacking off.

That effort is what inevitably pulls Yokoi away from her studies and takes her on wild adventures with Seki. At the end of every episode, you can’t really be mad at Yokoi for always losing focus. It’s not that she is so bad at studying, but rather Seki is so good at slacking off.

I literally yell “Tonari no Seki-kun” in frustration alongside Yokoi every episode after he has once again stolen her precious study time for something outrageous, stupid, and often endearing (Roboto Kazoku, for example).

Favorite moments in episodes

Roboto Kazoku (Robot Family) – Some of our favorite moments in Tonari no Seki-kun involve the robot family.  Again, it’s the inner monologue of Yokoi that makes their episodes shine. While Seki places the robot family in their positions and poses, he seems to immediately forget about them and become occupied with something else.  In doing this, he unknowingly leaves it to Yokoi to protect and care for the robot family so that they’re not discovered and confiscated by the teacher.

Another thing we enjoyed was getting to see another classmate’s perspective on Seki and Yokoi’s friendship.  In typical anime comedy style, things are blown out of proportion, taken way out of context, and characters are reading in between lines that don’t even exist.

Finally, this anime may have the best ending theme song ever to me (Anthony).  This anime was first recommended to me by Paul. He said that it’s short, really funny, and that I’d fall in love with the ED.  He was right on all three points. The ED is super catchy and you can’t help but dance along to it.

The full version of Akira Jimbo’s Set Them Free is simply amazing, and, with any great song, there’s bound to be some awesome covers.

What We Didn’t Like:

There were a couple of things that I (Nena) had issues with. Specifically, I thought the animation style was a little too simple and plain. I’ve watched so many visually appealing animes in the past that my expectations have gone way up over the years. However, I do fully understand that Tonari no Seki-kun is a very simple slice of life story, and the animation and character designs aren’t necessarily meant to be a focus point. I just felt like they could’ve made it look a little better. Yes, I know I’m spoiled.

Another weird thing was that Yokoi has white hair and is needlessly busty.  We eventually meet her mother, and we see that she looks just like her, so I suppose it makes some sense, but when did middle schoolers get so busty?

You can find this show on Crunchyroll streaming here.

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