Is this the end for Tonari no Seki-kun? Well, no – apart from the fact that I’ve stopped making any assumptions about the broadcast schedule for this series (the last eight episodes were widely reported as not scheduled to air on TV at all) there’s the fact that there are two special episodes coming with the DVDs, at the very least. In theory this is the end of the TV run, but who knows at this point. I’m just happy to take what I can get.
If this is indeed the TV End, Shin-Ei picked a good story to close with – though it doesn’t have anything particularly “finale” about it. It marks the return of the robot family, which means more agonized consternation from Yokoi (well, we’d have gotten that anyway). The cause? The “personal belongings inspection” – one she originally celebrates because it means Seki will finally be brought into line, only to see to her dismay it means her surrogate cyber-kazoku might be headed to the clink. Karma at work?
I kind of hate the idea of teachers mercilessly sifting through and confiscating kids’ property (this “search and seizure” in schools has been a matter of long-standing controversy in the U.S.), but that’s not really the main point here. Rather, as usual, it’s Seki-kun and Yoiki’s reactions that carry the day. Seki initially has the robot family posed to have their own belongings inspected (hilarious) but at Yokoi’s frantic urging finally manages to secrete the mother and son in his bento box (after lowering the rest of his contraband out the window like a boss), only to leave Dad behind. Finally Seki hangs Dad off the back of his chair and passes the inspection with flying colors.
You knew without waiting, of course, that Yokoi wouldn’t be so lucky – she has a CD she’s borrowed from a friend confiscated (seriously, I love this country but what’s the harm in a Goddam CD?). The best part of all this is the look of enraptured admiration Seki-kun gives Yokoi here – clearly betraying his weakness for “bad girl” types. The nightmare isn’t over for poor Rumi-chan, even now – she mumbles “The family!” to her busybody teacher who’s been worrying over her odd behavior, and ends up being saddled with the most grievous of trials – the home visit. Alas, poor Yokoi – she may have wished for Seki to get into trouble but at least she didn’t rat him out, and she deserved better. But maybe catching Seki-kun’s eye like that will be worth all her trouble…
I feel as if I’ve said everything there is to say about this series, really – not least that it pretty much speaks for itself. It may be short, but Tonari no Seki-kun punches above its weight class. This series is a great fit for the format anyway (though again, I’d have loved two chapters per episode) and provides a standout example of an anime using the tools available to the medium to make a great manga even better. Both Hanazawa Kana and Shimono Hiro are perfect in their roles, and indeed having Seki-kun’s voice be a part of the process at all was a brilliant move on the part of director Mutoh Yuji and the anime staff. The OP and ED are top-shelf as well.
I’ll close for now by repeating what I’ve said already – as easy as it is to dismiss Tonari no Seki-kun as wildly entertaining fluff, this is a whip-smart series with real depth. There’s some incredibly incisive observational comedy about the differences between boys and girls, and the relationship between these two specifically is layered, fascinating and hilarious. They really do fit together like perfectly-matched puzzle pieces, each of them supplying the other exactly what they need (and that’s a pretty good basis for a romantic relationship, right there). Subversively brilliant, that’s what this series is, and I’ve enjoyed every episode thoroughly.