Wednesday Reviews: Tonari no Seki-Kun

It’s rare that I do anime reviews, given that anime is more of typoattack’s area of expertise (and I was always more into manga than anime anyway), so I guess this is kind of a special occasion. Although I did review another anime back in July 2015, Comical Psychosomatic Medicine. Which is relevant in some ways, because there are some similarities. Tonari no Seki-Kun (English title: The Master of Killing Time) is also a gag anime with episodes that run about a third of the length of a full episode. It ran for one 21-episode season in 2014, which typoattack will kindly explain counts as 2 seasons in anime measures, but it’s still listed as one season on Crunchyroll and IMDB, so that’s what I’m going with. Also I don’t need to confuse myself more than I already do. So whichever you prefer, anime measures or whatever, that’s how long it was on. ANYWAY.

The premise is pretty simple, as it should be for something with such a short time per episode. Yokoi-san, the main character, is distracted by her classmate Seki-kun, who is always playing some sort of elaborate game on his desk while he should be paying attention. It’s a sort of “freak of the week” kind of deal, every episode is a different game, though there is some sense of continuity. Which is refreshing and surprising given the nature of the series as gag shorts. It’s always fun to see what he’ll be up to next. Of course, we as viewers don’t have to try to focus on class while he’s doing this, so it’s a bit different for us…

Pictured: Events that never occur in the series, sorry to say
Pictured: Events that never occur in the series, sorry to say

Like I said, it’s a simple premise, but it’s amazing how well it can carry a series. It’s a shame that it only ran for the one (or two) season(s), because it certainly could have continued on indefinitely. However, the fact that it holds up so well over a season isn’t the most interesting thing.

What’s actually most interesting, and surprising, is how much depth there is here. There’s actually a sense of character development, in a way, and though we spend most of our time following the two main characters there are, in fact, a few others that crop up and actually impact the plot and have their own traits and such. With such short episodes it’s really impressive that this is even possible. The setting isn’t static, either; the series takes place in a number of different classes, complete with different teachers and topics; the whole atmosphere changes. It’s not just a matter of being told “We’re in history,” you hear snippets of the teacher talking about historical events. In science you hear the teacher talking about chemical compounds, and the setting is clearly a science lab and not a regular classroom. It’s a small touch, but it’s an important one. It helps ground the series in reality, which is vital since the stuff going on at Seki’s desk really pushes the limits of suspension of disbelief. Like, a lot. No competent real-world teachers would be able to miss his antics, regardless of the fact that he’s seated in the absolute back of the room.

Ultimately I think I find myself overanalyzing things; looking through the notes I took while watching — because yes, that’s a thing I do often when I’m planning to blog about something — I have a lot of things jotted down where I’m trying to figure out his motivations. Is it sheer boredom? Is he trying to impress Yokoi-san? Is he starved for attention? I don’t know, and looking back, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a gag series. There’s absolutely no reason for me to be wondering things that go that deep into character development. It didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of the series, mind you, but it’s just something I noticed. Maybe I should get back to school rather than overanalyze anime…

So, would I recommend this series? Sure. It’s not the pinnacle of anime achievement, but it’s a lot of fun, and if you’re just looking for something lighthearted and easy to watch, you can’t go wrong here. You’re not going to get a whole lot of story, but if you’re anything like me you’ll probably find yourself laughing aloud on more than one occasion. The only thing I should warn you about? The last episode is one of the most stressful things I can recall watching of late. So just, you know, brace yourself for that one.

To watch Tonari no Seki-Kun, follow this link to CrunchyRoll. Watch legally, support your favorite series and creators!


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