Plot: Rumi Yokoi sits next to Seki-kun everyday in class. However, everyday Seki is doing something other than classwork, distracting Rumi to no end. From hybrid games of shogi to an RC mock driver’s ed test, nothing is off-limits for this master of killing time.
This anime is the first show I started watching after I cleared my goal of finishing five anime from my “currently watching” list. It was a good choice I think, since it is fairly short. Each of its 21 episodes are about 8 minutes long, including an opening and ending song. So if you are someone who skips those, then you can finish them even faster in about 6 minutes. There are also about 3 OVAs, which are slightly longer, but still worth watching.
To start, this show is one of the more unorthodox shows I have seen in a while. First, the title character Seki-kun never gets one line of dialogue. Just grunts. So to me that is pretty interesting. He is kind of like Silent Bob from “Jay and Silent Bob.” Another unusual aspect is as I mentioned above the time slot. It is pretty short, but it makes it easy to consume and watch at your own pace. Finally is that there is really only focus on Rumi and Seki. Hardly any outside characters exist, with characters created by Seki seemingly getting more lines and attention than Seki and Rumi’s classmates. With that being said, I use unorthodox here in a good way, since different in my opinion is usually a good thing.
Obviously the main attraction for this show is its comedic elements. There is little to no plot outside of the stories established in each episode, so if you are looking for some well fleshed out romance or action, you are looking in the wrong place. But if you are looking for some guaranteed laughs, look no further than Tonari Seki-kun (or as it is translated to in English My Neighbor Seki-kun).
Seki’s antics never failed to amaze me, with almost every episode’s gag being different. And even when they were re-used, it was still new and fun. So I never felt like I was watching the same thing twice. My favorites were probably when Seki opens up his own note passing postal service, and when he constructs his own remote control car mock driving test. Those episodes really show how detailed and how much effort Seki put into his in-class shenanigans. That kind of dedication is certainly respectable.
Seki as a character is also just really fun to watch. First of all, as I said earlier his dialogue is nothing more than grunts and groans. So not hearing his voice adds a certain intrigue to him, I think. Also, his lackadaisical attitude towards classwork is not unlike my own high school self’s attitude. I could not be bothered to pay attention and do work, just like Seki. Though his antics are certainly funnier than mine ever were. Seki’s name is also a fun point of interest. Seki (せき) in Japanese means seat, and the word in the title tonari (となり) means next to. So it quite literally means “the seat next to me.” And since Seki sits next to Rumi, it is a sort of play on words. While not totally relevant or important, I always find things like that fun to notice when I watch shows.
The voice acting is also worth mentioning, as I found it surprisingly good. Well, it shouldn’t have surprised me because Rumi’s voice actress is the amazing Kana Hanazawa, so a great performance was almost guaranteed. But the English dub acting is also worth mentioning. I noticed this show had a dub when I started watching it, but the OVAs weren’t dubbed. So I decided to get the best of both worlds and watched the most of the main 21 episodes dubbed and watched the OVAs subbed. The English dub was surprisingly good, with Monica Rial voicing Rumi. This was actually not surprising though, as she often dubs voles done originally by Kana Hanazawa. So it is only fitting that they both voiced Rumi.
Speaking of Kana Hanazawa, the OP song is actually performed by her. A very quick song at about 45 seconds, but I liked it so much I found myself rewinding it to listen to it again. The song is super catchy, and lyrics very fitting for the show. The ED is also pretty cool, with the animation showing Seki playing makeshift drums with pencils and other school supplies.
If there is anything negative that I had to say about the show, I would have to say it is the art style. The art style feels older, sort of feeling like a 90’s anime to me. With that being said, I don’t find that it takes anything away from the show, and it definitely started to grow on me as I watched more of the show. So it really wasn’t a huge deal. Though if you are someone who prefers Shaft’s animation and art style, this may not be your favorite.
I got a lot of laughs from this short show, which in the end is all that matters. To give it a pretty arbitrary rating, I would give it an 8/10. Not perfect by any stretch, but certainly worthy of your time. I sincerely enjoyed every episode, and I think most people would too. There is also apparently a live-action adaptation on Netflix in Japan that I can only see as being not very good. So I am pretty excited to check it out, and hopefully review it.