Is this in actuality the 22nd episode if Tonari no Seki-kun the TV series? Is the show actually going to end up at 26 episodes as was originally reported, after having been trimmed to 13 and then expanded back up to 21 – and would the earlier 2-episode OVA count? Is it an OVA – or a special? Beats the hell out of me – all I can say for sure is that there’s at least one more of whatever this was coming, and the series remains one of the real delights of anime 2014.
If there was any doubt that Tonari no Seki-kun could succeed at “double” (roughly 14 minute) length show, this certainly dispels it. I would have preferred the TV airing be this length, whether it be longer chapter adaptations or two mini-episodes per week instead of one, but at least we’re getting that here – unlike the episodes in the earlier OVA “Rinkan Gakkou” (School Camp) is a full 14 minutes on its own. And as such, it has a chance to develop the plot to an extent the shorter episodes can’t.
That plot surrounds, unsurprisingly, the school camping trip, which in this case is to a spot Seki-kun visited as a first-grader and left behind a string of RPG-style signs and props, proclaiming himself the “Demon Lord”. Naturally the ultra-mature middle-schoolers in Seki and Yokoi’s hiking group find all this hilariously childish, and just as naturally Yokoi can’t help feeling sorry for the understandably embarrassed Seki-kun. This is compounded when the Demon Lord’s “castle” is revealed to contain proof that it was Seki (family name Toshinari) who created all this, though Yokoi is the only one who spots it – and she takes it upon herself to keep his secret.
As always, what makes Tonari no Seki-kun work is the way the characters are always completely true to themselves. It’s almost reassuring to know that Seki-kun has always been driven by his relentlessly creative imagination – one can only hope it isn’t beaten out of him as evidence of “immaturity” because if he carries it into adulthood he could do great things (like, perhaps, become a mangaka). And it’s completely sasuga that Yokoi would discomfit herself in order to help him out – she (as always) just can’t help getting wrapped up in the moment, and the fact that she’s obviously sweet on Seki-kun doesn’t hurt either. I also loved the fact that the resort manager left all of Seki’s props in place, because they became a hit with the guests.
In the end, Yokoi more or less gets the last laugh this time – after Seki-kun acts a little too carefree while she’s been killing herself tying to protect him, she decides to keep the evidence of his activities (though in truth it’s not like he really has anything to be embarrassed about) as possible leverage against him later. If it’s about blackmailing him into a date, though, I suspect she won’t need to go to such lengths – this wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Seki-kun flash her this sort of look…