Second Impressions Digest – Tonari no Seki-kun, Nobunagun

Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -9 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -12 Nobunagun - 02 -3 Nobunagun - 02 -7

Context is everything I suppose – and Tonari no Seki-kun is looking a lot better than it did a week ago.

Tonari no Seki-kun – 02

Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -1 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -2 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -3
Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -4 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -5 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -6
Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -7 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -8 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -10
Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -11 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -13 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -14
Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -15 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -16 Tonari no Seki-kun - 02 -17

Since Tonari no Seki-kun is looking like the best comedy of the season even at 5 minutes (unless you consider Space Dandy a pure comedy) I thought I’d spend a few minutes on this week’s episode.

As I said last week, if ever a series were perfectly cut out for the short format, this is the one.  And it’s clear to me after two eps that Shin-Ei and director get this series.  They understand why it works, why it’s funny, and apart from having Yokoi speak many of her thoughts aloud rather than think them (which is the only thing I don’t agree with in the adaptation so far) they’re keeping the spirit of the manga intact.

It’s clear even from the OP (Seki-kun producing the anime version of the manga at this desk) and ED (Yokoi getting into it in spite of herself as Seki-kun grooves out at his desk) that these guys get it.  This is funny because of the absurdity, because of the way it captures the difference between boys and girls, and because Yokoi actually likes being a part of Seki’s shenanigans.  She’s hooked on the buzz, an adrenaline addict, and Seki is her fix.  If you don’t get that, you don’t get Tonari no Seki-kun – and then it’s just a mildly amusing face about a middle-schooler screwing around at his desk.

This week’s ep was all about Shogi, and it was just as brilliant in anime form as it was in the manga.  Again, it’s Yokoi who adds all the color here, providing the commentary track to Seki’s drama – though one suspects the scene playing out in his head wasn’t a whole lot different from the one in hers.  And of course, the whole thing finishes with Seki-kun’s trademark death glare.  Simple, clever and very funny – this is a great use of the format and a real pleasure to escape with every week.

Nobunagun – 02

Nobunagun - 02 -2 Nobunagun - 02 -4 Nobunagun - 02 -5
Nobunagun - 02 -6 Nobunagun - 02 -8 Nobunagun-8
Nobunagun - 02 -9 Nobunagun - 02 -10 Nobunagun - 02 -11
Nobunagun - 02 -12 Nobunagun - 02 -13 Nobunagun - 02 -14
Nobunagun - 02 -15 Nobunagun - 02 -16 Nobunagun - 02 -17

The second episode of Nobunagun didn’t quite work its magic for me the way the first one did.  There was still the same manic energy in the first half, the same interesting sense of style, and some interesting and clever plot quirks.  But the second half of the episode was a bit of a snoozer.

I’ve rarely had to play with the volume as much as I have to with this series – and that’s probably symbolic of something deeper going on with the show.  The first ten minutes of the ep really were batshit nuts, with BGM to match.  I thought it was pretty clever how Newton’s power was to make things heavier, and Ghandi’s was strictly defensive.  As for Shio/Nobunaga herself, she certainly plays the maniac role to the hilt when Oda is in control.

Really, this was just the opposite of last week, where it was the non-battle parts that more impressed me.  I thought the reflective second half of the episode fell pretty flat – I didn’t buy Shio’s angst, and the exposition bomb about DOGOO was pretty awkward.  In truth the inexperienced cast didn’t help here – Mutou Shiori as Shio has charm, but gets pretty wooden in the dramatic moments.  It really does feel as if Nobunagun is something of a hybrid of Symphogear and Crime Edge, but so far the angsty elements aren’t working as well for me as they did early in in Symphogear, even as the battles are better.  As for Crime Edge, well – that’s on another level altogether.

In truth this is a pretty ridiculous premise, though as ridiculous premises go it’s fairly clever and not without its charms.  One wonders why among all of recent human history our alien friend chose these four oddly-matched figures for his (her?) E-Genes – maybe we’ll find out later on.  I do like the notion of the Evolutionary Invasion Objects re-enacting Earth’s evolution in fast-forward – I suppose we’ll be seeing dinosaurs soon enough – and it’s clear it doesn’t take itself all that seriously.  I still see potential for a modestly entertaining action romp here, but as of the moment I’m on the fence.

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5 comments

  1. Z

    "What you must do is simple:

    If one line isn't enough… Two!
    If two lines aren't enough… Three!"

    Spirit of Nobunaga is so GAR!

  2. M

    "apart from having Yokoi speak many of her thoughts aloud rather than think them they're keeping the spirit of the manga intact."

    Yawn. Manga purists reaching for complaints.
    But yes, best comedy of the season. Dandy is a no show in that arena.

    There was plenty of visual panache in the second half of Nobunagun to make it worthwhile, and goddamn that first half. Who knows, there's even a brewing relationship between Shio and Asao! And while redunkulous (as if Crime Edge was any better), the exposition about the about DOGOO and the "Kaiju" origin was straight-up no BS and indeed clever.

    Getting sick of snobs picking on novice seiyuu when the work they're doing is decent though.

  3. S

    I haven't read the Tonari no Seki-kun manga, but I still think it's weird that she's talking to herself/seki-kun in the middle of class this entire time. It isn't really a big deal and I don't think anyone is making it out to be here. It doesn't really seem like Enzo is reaching for something to complain about here to me at least, just pointing out that it's a weird change from the manga in an otherwise faithful adaptation?

  4. M

    Sure, but I doubt anyone would scrutinize that if there weren't a manga to fall back on. Anime utilizes sound and movement, so the increased interaction beyond nodding and grunting seems appropriate for the medium. Easier to do when it's just stills and thought bubbles.

    Also, it adds a bit more dimension to Seki-kun's shenanigans.

  5. t

    Tonari no seki-kun continue to demonstrate why it's such a great comedy show. although its short length (THO more than short-term like pupa/pupipo and all)and not presenting strong sides of animation, it's not wasting a second. every thing is so funny and leads to something even funnier. I simply love it.
    for now it seems like each episode equals one chapter in the manga (which isn't long..10 pages max). according to MAL it's listen to 21 eps..I hope more but at least it's not 1 cour of 12 eps.
    BTW, OVA is out (only RAW for now..but probably will be translated). and it's 13 minutes. maybe future eps will be longer. that way or another, I am having fun with it.

    as for Nobunagun – this is was good in terms of action. it's not just random action of "piew piew", it has some thinking around it like the whole thing with Newton's power to stop the recoil or Gandhi's power which more used to defense (kinda fits to Gandhi after all). I really liked that part.
    yes, the story isn't bright and all, even ridiculous – reincarnation of famous figure to fight some sort of aliens?yes, ridiculous. but hell ya it's working for now.
    I am bit upset that Asao doesn't seem included in future plans for Nobunagun. she was the motive-force for Sio. I am sure we still see her, but less. that's too bad.
    there will come challenges for nobunagun, as there were for Crime-Edge. I am not sure how well nobunagun will face these challenges, but for now it's nobungun is a nice and fun to watch show.

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