I review a lot of things that might be considered thought-provoking or insightful. Today, I’m going to change that, just a bit. This series has a fairly predictable story line, but ranks very high on entertainment. Period.
Tonari no Seki-kun (not to be confused with the shōjo series Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun or the Ghibli film Tonari no Totoro) is an animated short series about none other than Toshinari Seki, a high school student who spends most of his class time goofing off in the back of the classroom rather than pay attention to mundane lectures. Nothing too special about that. If I were sitting in the back, I’d probably do the same thing.
Of course, that wouldn’t make for an interesting series if it was just him. That’s why we have his classmate, Rumi Yokoi, to narrate and observe all of Seki-kun’s creative activities. Rumi desperately tries to pay attention in class, but becomes easily distracted by everything that Seki-kun does.
But that’s okay. Rumi likes to join in on Seki-kun’s fun, many times trying to foil his imaginary plans or playing along with his desperate need for attention. Sometimes she gets so enraptured by his activities, fans have nicknamed the show “Tonari no Yokoi-san” or “Tonari no Rumi-chan!” And for those who have watched it, fans love shipping these two.
Whether or not you think they are totally into each other, it doesn’t help the fact that the story itself is predictable. That’s why I introduced the “Seki-kun Ownage Counter” for the show. At the end of each episode, I evaluated for myself who among these two “won” that episode. Winning a point meant that by the end of the episode, these two would either get in trouble with a professor or student, beat the other in whatever activity they were doing, or call it even because someone or something else owned them!
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that while I was watching the simulcasts, I was NOT the only person who declared a “win” counter on each episode either! Apparently quite a few fans did this! Maybe it was to keep ourselves entertained. Maybe it was the innate nature of Seki-kun’s competitive activities. Or maybe the author intended on his fan base to do this! Clever guy…
Oddly enough, my favorite thing that came out of this series are the songs. Sure, we have a catchy opening theme sung by none other than Rumi Yokoi’s voice actress Kana Hanazawa, but we also have the drum solo created by Akira Jimbo for a closing theme! No joke, the animation for that theme song was inspired by the percussionist!
And who could forget the Robot Family insert song? Sure, it sounds like it was one of those Sentai projects, but it’s very catchy! I cannot confirm or deny that I have danced to it while sitting in front of my computer awkwardly during an episode that played it.
So for a very short series that lasted two seasons, get ready to laugh, get ready to be amazed, and don’t forget to pay attention in class when you need to! Tonari no Seki-kun: the Master of Killing Time is fun for the high school student in all of us!