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My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1

Welcome to another midweek manga review! This time around I’ll be taking a look at My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1, but first some news…

And now onto this weeks review of My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1!

My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1
By Takuma Morishige
Vertical Comics, 176 pp
Rating: Not Rated

From the pages of Comic Flapper, the same magazine that gave us 7 Billion Needles, Twin Spica and Transluscent, comes Takuma Morishige’s My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1! The manga, which was recently adapted into an anime series available on Crunchyroll, is a charming high school comedy about Rumi Yokoi and her bizarrely distracting classmate, Toshinari Seki.

I wasn’t really expecting much from My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1, I’ve touched upon my rocky relationship with Japanese humor many times before, so I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered just how goofy and enjoyable this was. Filled with episodic, stand alone tales, My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1 brings the laughs via Seki’s ever escalating classroom hijinks and Yokoi’s reactions to them. While the premise is simple and straight forward, Seki’s actions are anything but. He’s not your typical class clown and goofball. Seki’s distracting behavior takes the form of elaborate undertakings such as running a class room based postal service complete with mailbox in the back of the room, feeding cats, making plushies and tricking out his desk with a variety of trap doors and movable panels. Of course this all goes unnoticed by most of the class with the exception of poor Yokoi. The humor usually stems from what Seki’s doing and Yokoi’s reactions to it, which often lands her in trouble for not paying attention to the teacher while the ever silent Seki and his antics slip by unnoticed. At times Yokoi’s simply a passive watcher to Seki’s bizarre hobbies, at other times she gets involved or finds herself wishing she could get involved. So far there’s no other recurring cast members besides Yokoi and Seki, and to top that Yokoi’s the only one with any dialogue throughout the entire volume, leaving Seki as much as a mystery to us and he is to Yokoi.

Page from My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1

An example of Seki’s handiwork.

Takuma Morishige’s artwork is solid and he does a great job at making some of Seki’s ridiculous actions look fantastic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a domino show so dramatically presented in sequential art before. Morishige also provides just enough background details to help establish the setting, ensuring that you’re reminded of the classroom setting and making sure that you never forget that Seki’s construction of a giant spinning chess piece is taking place in a class room full of students. He also does a fantastic job at conveying emotions through body language and facial expressions, both of which help add to the humor of the situations, including some over reactions that don’t feel out of place or intrusive at all.

My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1 is undoubtedly a charming read, and one that’s both quick and light. There’s not a whole lot else too it beyond the goofy hijinks. While the first volume was pretty fun, this seems like it could wear thin pretty quickly. Thankfully Takuma Morishige’s imagination and commitment to making Seki’s actions ever more elaborate and bizarre with each passing chapter helps it stave off that feeling. Still, I found myself wondering just how long he could stretch the premise before it started to feel repetitive and same-y, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that My Neighbor Seki is going on it’s fifth year of publication! With such a small cast and episodic structure, that seems like no small feat. Surely there must be some twists at some point and Seki can’t remain silent for that entire time, can he? Will there be more characters introduced? will the plot become less episodic and more serial? I have no idea, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit curious to find out.

My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 1 is available now from Vertical Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. January 16, 2015 at 12:10 pm

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