Short Thoughts on Tonari no Seki-kun

seki-kun, tonari no seki-kun, seki, yokoi, master of killing time, master of wasting time

Let’s waste some time, shall we?

In spite of my adolescent delusions I still want to…

My experience with the Tonari no Seki-kun manga is similar to Scamp’s chronicles of burning through it in a span of three hours. Where he was researching the property for a season preview, I watched the first two episodes of the animated short series before seeking out the manga, finishing all 45 available chapters within a day.

tonari no seki-kun, seki-kun, yokoi, seki, master of killing time, manga

One of the chapters that stuck out the most was chapter 21, when Toshinari Seki is faced with the efforts of his childhood delusions while on a class trip. Due to her attentiveness to Seki’s actions, classmate Rumi Yokoi notices his discomfort and quickly realizes that the scrawled signs of a “Demon’s Castle” that her classmates are laughing at are the hand-crafted works of a younger Seki. Unsure as to how to react, she first comes to his defense, implying that most kids have done something similar. She then joins in on the laughter when she suspects that others are catching on. Upon finding a hand-drawn award for the conqueror of the Demon’s Castle – signed by Seki himself – she goes to great lengths to protect his identity, saving him from potential ridicule.

The effect is a very genuine callback to childhood daydreams, moreso than a certain second season with “chuunibyou” in its title. Yokoi’s attention and desire to protect Seki turns into blackmail. It’s a trump card that Yokoi will never play, partially because she is already an accomplice to Seki’s current adolescent delusions in the classroom.

yokoi, tonari no seki-kun, master of killing time

Masters and Mistresses of Killing Time

Seki may be the titular character; however, it’s Yokoi who brings the charm in this series by playing a quintessential “good girl.” She is well-thought of by her classmates. She attends cram school. She writes individual thank you letters for the slightest of kindnesses. Seki, to his credit, brings out the most mischievous side of Yokoi through his antics. In spite of her insistence that she wants to study, and she’d rather Seki do nothing at all, she quickly becomes emotionally involved in whatever he is doing.

Piggybacking on the aforementioned idea of childhood and adolescent delusions, it’s Yokoi who is the more delusional of the two, as she gives specific weight to Seki’s actions through her participation. Where one would see Seki playing with random shogi pieces, Yokoi constructs a compelling story of a coup d’etat. When Seki constructs a miniature archeological dig, Yokoi eschews her common sense and digs for treasures in her own desk, to the eventual amusement of her classmates. When Seki plays Othello, Yokoi creates a zombie apocalypse narrative, inspiring her own participation in the story to “save the human” by reflecting light directly onto Seki’s desk.

It works because, as readers and viewers, we’re only privy to Yokoi’s thoughts. While reading manga, we’re typically the ones commenting on what we’re reading. In this way, Yokoi becomes the bridge from the oddness of Seki’s actions to our own emotional investment. We care for Seki because Yokoi does.

tonari no seki-kun art class, seki, yokoi

Filling In the Gaps

An easy line is drawn from our emotional investment in Yokoi and Seki, and fervently wishing for an eventual romantic relationship. Furthering this train of thought is Gotou who, in an effort to befriend Yokoi, misconstrues Yokoi’s actions towards Seki as true love. As she presumes that the the two are dating, every remark by Yokoi takes on a different meaning in Gotou’s imagination. She eventually decides to champion Yokoi’s love from the sidelines, unable to do much of anything else.

Gotou as an audience insert acts as an interesting parallel to Yokoi’s actions towards Seki. Unable to read Seki’s mind, Yokoi provides us with an interpretation of Seki’s actions. Likewise, Gotou, who is unable to discern the nature of Yokoi’s relationship with Seki, fills in the gaps with her own desires for romance between the two. She is the reader pushing the pages together while yelling, “Kiss already!”

6 comments

    1. True, but my favorite bit of HanaKana voice acting will always be her Sengoku Nadeko. The “EHHHHHHHH?!” when Nadeko snaps is just priceless. I could watch her yell at her own classmates all day. ^ ^

      Thank you for comenting!

  1. Sadly, none of the time-killers I saw in high school could match the elaborateness of Seki’s setups. ( ̄д ̄)

    Sorry about the Nobunaga spoilers, btw. Didn’t know you hadn’t caught up yet. m(_ _)m

    1. Oh, no need to apologize. Running an anime blog means I also run the risk of being spoiled on everything and anything. Additionally, as Nobunaga the Fool is pretty crazy anyway, you could have probably made something up and I would have believed it. ^ ^ Nonetheless, hopefully I’ll have time to catch up soon.

      The largest time-sink in my high school involved peeling the foil off of gum wrappers and guilding things in silver. Notebooks, pencils, calculators, you name it. We also passed a lot of notes. ^ ^

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. The common stereotype is that girls tend to nag boys as a sign of hidden affection.

    Truly indifferent girls don’t even bother to hate, but girls who say that they hate boy X are actually interested in boy X, one way or another.

    Sadly, I don’t think this stereotype happens in real life as much as in fiction. I think lots of girls flat out hate lots of boys, honestly.

    But if that happened in the story,the girl would just raise her hand and ask to be moved to a different seat so that Seki wouldn’t annoy her. And then the teacher would punish Seki, and that would be the end of a very short show.

    1. Hnnnn…I don’t get that impression from either character, honestly, although their relationship eventually develops into something similar.

      Seki is, presumably, incredibly bored in class, so he sees just what he can get away with (and the series plays the absurd against the mundane very well when contrasting his actions with the banality of classroom life). Yokoi, on the other hand, is looking for a way to deal with her own boredom, but is too much of a goody-goody to admit it, Therefore, she allows herself to be swept up in Seki’s actions, all the while saying that she wants no part of them. Her protesting allows her to keep up the illusion that she is a model student.

      As their relationship progresses, whether you see it romantically or no, Seki begins to target Yokoi specifically, to see just how he can get a rise out of her. In turn, Yokoi begins to care about Seki’s welfare.

      Thanks for commenting. ^ ^

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