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Review: My Neighbor Seki

Everyone gets bored in class. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own thoughts or amuse yourself with doodles or other things. But Toshinari Seki takes self-amusement to new levels with some unbelievable projects!

Review: My Neighbor Seki Volume 1
By Takuma Morishige
All Ages
Vertical Comics, January 2015. ISBN: 978-1939130969
166 pgs, $10.95

My Neighbor Seki is a slice of life, giving the reader a peek into moments in class with Seki and his neighbor Yokoi, so there is no on-going story. Yokoi tries to be a good student and pay attention in class, but Seki is alway doing the opposite. While she is pulling out pencils and books, he is pulling out bags of sand, puzzle pieces, and polishers. She tries to ignore him or get him to pay attention, but inevitably she gets drawn into his antics.

Although Seki’s project are impressive and often funny, what makes them really interesting is Yokoi’s reaction to them. As she watches Seki, she builds a narrative around the project, often becoming just as invested. She even helps him out by letting him polish her pencil board and folding origami animals with him. Her enabling is rarely rewarded, but she does get back at him from time to time, such as when she takes over his family of robots that are taking an earthquake drill more seriously than he is.

We have to rely on Yokoi as our narrative since Seki never speaks in the volume. The gags are visual, and the reader can often figure out what’s going on just from them, but Yokoi’s commentary adds to the humor. Seki seem to really know how to get under Yokoi’s skin. He brings in two cats to play with but doesn’t let her pet them. He creates a jumping game in PE for her that gets her in trouble with a teacher. He knits a stuffed cactus but unravels it before she can touch it. And all through this, somehow no one notices what he is doing. If Yokoi ever tries to get a teacher to look, Seki magically clears his desk. That isn’t to say he doesn’t get his comeuppance every once in a while. When he tries a ouija board in class, another classmate crashes the game, causing him concern at being cursed for the interruption.

The art is clean and simple. Moirshige focuses mostly on Seki’s projects, so the backgrounds are done with just enough detail to establish without being distracting. The characters, however, are very expressive. This is important to Seki, who is only ever shown communicating through his expressions. While the story centers on Seki and Yokoi, the occasional classmate or teacher will make an appearance.

My Neighbor Seki is filled with situations that are hilarious and ludicrous, often at the same time. It is a charming series will make you smile at how serious the characters take the silliness. It’s a great addition to any graphic or all ages collection. My Neighbor Seki may be a good way to kill time, but it is in no way wasted.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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