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- Genre: comedy, school, slice of life, short
- Episodes: 22
- Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
You can choose your friends but you can’t really choose your classmates. And if you happen to go to a school with assigned seating, you can’t even choose who you end up sitting next to. This can be a problem if the person next to you has any annoying habits. Like nose whistling or asking to borrow your stuff all the time. Or like someone who is so determined to do anything other than listening to the lesson, that they go through a series of extravagant amusements during class and no matter how hard you try to ignore them you just can’t cause what’s happening right next to you is simply crazy. Just as an example…
Once again I come back to you with a short anime series that I recently finished. I am always a fan of these little bite-sized shows because I find that they are usually super light and a good way to round off an evening with just a few minutes of anime comedy that doesn’t require much investment on the part of the viewer.
One of the downsides of short anime is that they very often haven even smaller budgets and that tends to be very visible once you sit own to watch them. There are exceptions of course but Tonari no Seki-kun is not one of those.
Without looking horrible or anything, the show does look “on a budget”. The character models are basic and undetailed. As are the backgrounds. Except for a single episode that takes place at the school swimming pool, all the other episodes happen in one of two classrooms, meaning that there is very little diversity in the backgrounds or costumes.
The colours have that very blunt quality that I associate with old school flash animation and the little movement that is present is often jagged. The majority of the series ends up being a monologue since the episodes are told from Yokoi’s point of view, through her inner dialogue. I mean I see that Seki-kun has a credited voice actor but I don’t actually remember him speaking in the show.
This said Yokoi’s voice actor does great work which is impressive as she doesn’t have anyone to act against most of the time. It’s a one-woman show and a silly little one at that. Ironically, I feel like this would make the performance harder for a lot of people.
The entire series is strictly formulaic. Yokoi notices Seki-kun doing some ridiculous hobby during class instead of paying attention and she gets mildly annoyed but also fascinated and attempts to figure out what he’s doing. Rinse and repeat 21 times.
This means that you can essentially watch the episodes in pretty much any order, except for one or two exceptions, and not miss anything. It also means that some episodes are way more successful than others in my opinion.
My own frame of reference is very flawed so take what I’m about to say with a huge grain of salt. I have a feeling that Tonari no Seki-kun is best enjoyed if you have a fairly good idea of what standard every day Japanese schools are like. And by that, I don’t mean anime schools. I mean the actual experience of going to school in Japan. I could almost feel certain notions and associated jokes going over my head as I watched.
Tonari no Seki-kun is the type of show I consistently enjoyed but at the same time, I could have dropped at any time and not felt any particular way about it. By that I mean I would watch a couple of episodes and had a good time then stop. I rarely felt the need to watch more than two in a row. And if I stopped watching it for a couple of days, I forgot I was watching it altogether.
Appropriately, just as the title suggests, to me Tonari no Seki-kun was a time filler. I never particularly engaged with the material or the characters. I just liked it well enough. I have a couple of episodes that I prefer but I’m not going to tell anyone they need to watch it right now.
I do assume that a lot of anime fans, especially ones with no Japanese school experience, would find this show a bit dull after a few episodes. There is after all very little variety in it and the humour is purely situational. There are no jokes, I can tell you to give you an example. So if you do not find these types of situations very funny, then there is absolutely nothing else in the series for you.
On the flip side, I do think anyone with more extensive Japanese classroom experience will at least enjoy the nostalgia of the series. Again, huge grain of salt here. There are a lot of little bits of storytelling that felt very realistic and true to the experience of attending class in Japan.
Unfortunately, I don,t really have a neat way to wrap up this review. I can’t really tell if you would enjoy the show or not unless I know you pretty well already. It’s a formula-driven sitcom with zero fanservice and fairly basic production values. If that’s not enough to tell you whether you would enjoy it or not, I suggest watching one episode. They are short after all, and just one should give you a very good idea of what you’re in for.
Favourite character: There aren’t exactly tons but I think I would say the Robot Family
Suggested drink: a Waste of Time
- Every time Yokoi gets in trouble – take a sip
- Every time we get Seki-kun p.o.v – take a sip
- Every time Seki glares at Yokoi – gasp!
- Every time Seki’s hobbies affect someone other than Yokoi – take a sip
- Every time Seki blushes – awwwww
- Every time an adventure is told through board games – you’ll understand if you watch the show
- Every time Seki is satisfied – take a sip
- Every time Yokoi gets the last word – raise your glass
- Every time Yokoi talks to Seki – pay attention
- Every time Yokoi is actually happy about what Seki is doing – take a sip
- Every time we see the Robot Family – cheers!
- Every time someone other than Yokoi notices what Seki is doing – take a sip
- Every time you’ve done something like Seki – take a sip
- Every time Seki talks – finish you drink
In case you’re new here, I have a Pinterest with all my screencaps (there are a lot!). If you can’t find a show you are looking for in my main boards, just go to Anime Screenshots. I move the shows I have reviewed there. Of course, I’m still going to add a few images here!