First Impressions: Tonari no Seki-kun


My favorite show of the season so far. Seriously

I don't know about you, but a lot of the anime "shorts" (or shows from 3-8 minutes in duration) that have come into vogue recently feel kind of pointless to me. Too often, these short running time shows seem to be shortchanging properties that would be far better served with full-episodes (see: Pupa.) Even if the concept doesn't necessarily require a full 22-minute anime, as it is there's no time for character development, and if the jokes don't hit the mark (and they generally don't), the whole thing serves no real purpose.

Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time is a case where it's totally the opposite: not only is it immediately obvious why this show is a short, it works great as a short, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Eraser NOOOOOOooo

The concept behind Seki-kun is simple: a kid in school finds elaborate ways to amuse himself at his desk during class, and the girl next to him is the only one who notices. It's simple but effective; the more intricate and outlandish Seki's projects become, the funnier it gets-- both the fact that he's pulling all of this off in the first place, and the fact that everyone else in class is somehow oblivious to his machinations. Presumably, the entire series is going to be variations on the same kind of joke, but hey: it's a good joke. Many classic cartoons are just variations on the same joke-- it all comes down to how creatively it's done.

The simplicity of the concept means that this show probably could have worked as a 3 or 4-minute short, but the fact that each episode is around 8 minutes long (OP and ED included) means the show has just enough time to build atmosphere. Even though it's just light fare meant to induce a giggle or two, there is something to be said for the slowly building-tension as Seki-kun's classmate Yokoi slowly realizes what he's doing at the desk next to her, with both mounting horror and begrudging fascination.

While the art is a no-frills affair, it's perfect for this show; in fact, I applaud the show's decision to only put detail into Seki-kun's projects rather than the characters. Furthermore, the OP and the ED are absolutely charming. Usually with shorts I kind of resent the OP and the ED for taking up valuable running time, but in this case, they encapsulate the humor the show is going for perfectly. I should probably mention that I was somewhat notorious during my school days for slouching in the back row of my classes and drawing comics in my notebooks, so Seki-kun is totally my kind of guy.

Right now, I can honestly say that Tonari no Seki-kun is my favorite show of the winter season so far. Whether that's because the season has been lackluster, or Seki-kun is just that good, even I'm not sure.

[Look over at what Seki-kun's building over on Crunchyroll]

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Karen Mead
Karen MeadContributor   gamer profile

Hi, I'm a former newspaper journalist who got tired of having a front row seat to the death of print. There probably could be some interesting story there about a disenchanted reporter moving on ... more + disclosures



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