Title – My Neighbor Seki (Tonari no Seki-kun)
Story & Art by – Takuma Morishige
Publisher – Vertical Comics
Release Date – January 13, 2015
Synopsis – “Toshinari Seki takes goofing off to new heights. Every day, on or around his school desk, he masterfully creates his own little worlds of wonder, often hidden to most of his classmates. Unfortunately for Rumi Yokoi, his neighbor at the back of their homeroom, his many games, dioramas, and projects are often way too interesting to ignore; even when they are hurting her grades.”
If you’re looking for a quirky, funny, and essentially plot-free read, then My Neighbor Seki, or Tonari no Seki-kun, is the manga series for you!
This highly adorable manga series chronicles the daily mischief of Toshinari Seki through the eyes of his classmate Rumi Yokoi, who has the misfortune of sitting next to Seki in every single class they have. Volume 1 establishes Seki’s shenanigans and Yokoi’s deep-rooted curiosity while slyly revealing bits and pieces of information about these two main characters’ personalities (likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc.).
Volume 1 is split up into 15 segments, representing each of their classes, with two short bonus stories.
As I mentioned in the beginning, My Neighbor Seki has no concrete plot; the manga series is literally about Seki goofing off and Yokoi witnessing, and sometimes even participating in, Seki’s bizarre time-passing hobbies. All of the 15 segments were equally funny and, by the first volume’s end, I was desperate for more while wishing I was in Seki and Yokoi’s class as well.
As far as characters go, the first volume solely focuses on Seki and Yokoi; I’m assuming these two will remain front and center throughout the duration of the manga series.
First up, we have the lovable troublemaker Seki who, believe it or not, doesn’t say a single word this volume. Most of Seki’s “dialogue” can be easily interpreted by his facial expressions or by Yokoi’s narration. Seki is an easily bored high-schooler who will do absolutely anything to make time fly by faster (except do his schoolwork, of course) - from doing origami, to meticulously cleaning his desk or simply knitting a cactus: there’s nothing Seki can’t do!
No one seems to notice Seki’s behavior other than his neighbor at the back of the room, Rumi Yokoi. Yokoi spends all of her time in class observing Seki’s activity for the period and more often than not, gets caught up in his games. No matter how hard she tries, Yokoi’s attention continuously shifts to Seki and on multiple occasions she even participates in whatever activity Seki is indulging himself in; no matter what the scenario, hilarity ensues.
Yokoi’s reactions to Seki and Seki’s reactions to Yokoi are a pure joy to read; I wasn’t even halfway through the volume before I become significantly attached to both Yokoi and Seki.
Again, each story for each period hilarious, but my favorite segment of volume 1 has to be Period 11. Yokoi has decided to fully pay attention in class because she feels as though nothing Seki does can surprise her any longer. Inevitably, Yokoi sneaks a peek at Seki to see his activity/project for the period: origami. He’s making paper cranes, to be exact. Yokoi eventually helps Seki fold more paper cranes due to her thinking he’s making a thousand paper cranes for a hospitalized loved one. Much to Yokoi’s anger, and to my utter amusement, Seki was making the paper cranes as “food” for his origami frog.
Each segment is short, yet funny, and readers are guaranteed a good laugh this volume. I’m usually not a big fan of romance, but I’m hoping Seki and Yokoi venture down that road because, quite frankly, these two are absolutely adorable together!
Who else will put up with Seki’s odd behavior other than Yokoi? No one, I tell you!
My Neighbor Seki volume 1 receives a solid 9 out of 10 with a must-read recommendation. The only thing preventing Seki from getting a full 10 out of 10 is its short length.
The series so far isn’t plot-heavy, which allows me to sit back, relax, and have a good laugh. The art is quite simplistic in comparison to other series, such as Karneval, Seraph of the End, and Tokyo Ghoul, but for the narrative presented, the art style fits perfectly and adds an additional element of humor to the humorous goings-on of Seki and Yokoi.
In addition to being genuinely funny and endearing, My Neighbor Seki sparks ones inner curiosity. For example, Seki partakes in quite a few traditional Japanese games, such as Shogi, which is essentially Japanese Chess. I was unaware of this while I was reading Seki. The volume didn’t provide a direct explanation of what the game was, so I looked it up on my own.
Readers might become agitated at the activities or games Seki plays because,more often than not, the volume did not provide an explanation as to how that specific game or activity works. In other words, My Neighbor Seki assumes its readers are already aware of aspects of the Japanese culture or that they’re curious enough to find out on their own. I obviously fall into the latter category.
My Neighbor Seki is, thankfully, an ongoing series and volumes 1-4 are available now.
I highly, highly recommend the series to everyone, comedy fans in particular! Those who love the manga, or simply don’t want to read through the four volumes released so far can check out the anime adaptation to My Neighbor Seki, titled Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time. The 21-episode anime series is available on Crunchyroll for your viewing pleasure and each episode is only about 7 minutes long – it’s a quick watch, just as the manga is a quick read. With volume 1 down, I wonder what Seki and Yokoi will do next; I simply can’t wait to find out.
Overall Score: 9/10 with a must-read recommendation!!!
Stay tuned with MangaNook for reviews of My Neighbor Seki and other manga series both old and new! Until next time, folks!