I don’t normally pick up a random manga and start reading it, but there was something alluring about My Neighbor Seki. Written and illustrated by Takuma Morishige, this manga series was turned into a popular TV show in 2014 and it’s all about two school kids goofing off and wasting their school day. Each chapter–there are 9 in this volume–shows off one wild Seki experiment after the other, some of which get them in trouble and some end in imaginative ways.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Seki’s desktop renovation is fit for a TV show. He adds turf just to create crop circles, and lures beetles and cicadas… until a larger predator shows up. Seki’s building a kaiju with a secret inside for the school fair. And can Rumi rescue Jun’s doll from the path of vigilantism…?
Why does this matter?
Aside from it being good enough to get adapted into a live action TV show, it’s quite a clever little comedy book. With each chapter offering a new Seki project that tops the previous one it’s bound to get you laughing and your imagination running.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Maybe Rumi needs to mind her own business!
This is a quick manga to get into because its set up and characters are so simple. There’s Seki, who appears to be mute, but filled with creative energy and life. Then there’s Rumi, Seki’s desk neighbor who is constantly reflecting on what Seki does and getting upset in varying ways. As she attempts to figure out what Seki is up to her imagination ends up running wild and one can imagine this cute dynamic is taking place across the globe in various classrooms. God knows grade school can be boring and this manga is all about the little quirky things we’ve all done to make the day pass.
Once you establish what the character relationship is all about and how Seki can basically do insane things at his desk and not be caught by his teacher you’ll roll with how cute and imaginative this manga can be. It’s like a feel good movie like Amelie as it mixes the impossible with a setup that’s incredibly plausible. In one chapter for instance, Seki creates a cardboard city in which he hides so he can read manga. How a teacher misses this is beyond me, but his construction makes sense and it’s fun to see Rumi view this city and attempt to make sense of it herself. The relationship between the two is very innocent and you’re bound to have gone through or known someone who has gone through a relationship like this.
The manga ends with two bonus chapters, one helping to show Rumi’s relationship with Seki via her mother. It’s cute and short. The second is Morishige talking to the reader about why there will be a delay for volume 11. He also breaks down how he changed the length of the chapters in this volume which is an interesting detail.
How the teacher doesn’t catch him doing this is anybody’s guess.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This may be a volume for younger readers because it’s rather simplistic. Rumi and Seki flirt via these crazy Seki creations, but there isn’t much else there. Seki being mute makes him a comedic character, but not one that’s very interesting. If you want a fluffy fun story you’ll enjoy this, but beyond the comedic setup of each of Seki’s creations there isn’t a lot here. It doesn’t help that the setup is rather repetitive.
There’s also some stereotyping going on about what girls and boys like, respectfully. They are stereotypes we don’t see as much of in America and might seem arcane when reading this.
Is It Good?
I really enjoyed this manga due to its youthful spirit and the comedy that springs forth from its creative ideas. If you want something you can pick up and put down for short bursts you’ll love this.
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