Rumi Yokoi and her ever-creative classmate Toshinari Seki are back in the second volume of Takuma Morishige’s My Neighbor Seki (Tonari no Seki-kun) manga. It’s more of the same goof-off hijinks this time around, proving that Morishige’s key hook has plenty of life in it, especially when a few curveballs are thrown for good measure.
Morishige’s solid, clean illustrations serve the premise well. It’s the perfect way to depict the highly organized world of chaos within which Seki operates. He never pays attention during class, and he’s always got some kind of cluttered monstrosity taking over his desk, but he goofs off with such admirable precision that it practically seems like he’s making six figures doing so.
Meanwhile, Yokoi keeps trying her best to avoid getting sucked into Seki’s antics, but she just can’t help herself. Can you really blame her? What at first seems like a one-off game of chess can turn into a dramatic war for the ages at a moment’s notice. Seki messing around by hanging a toy bear off the classmate in front of him is suddenly a life-or-death climb to the summit of a mountain. Yokoi is just as, if not more so, involved in what Seki is doing. Who knows if he intends some of these exercises to be as intense as they are; what we end up with is the way they get grilled and flipped in Yokoi’s mind, accentuating his eccentricity with her own.
In volume two we get a bit of a glimpse into Seki’s past and what made him who he is now, and another wrinkle gets introduced in the form of a girl named Sakurako Gotō. She sits right behind Yokoi, so she gets a unique vantage point when it comes to observing the way Yokoi and Seki interact. These close observations quickly lead her to believe Yokoi and Seki are secretly dating, and Yokoi’s oblivious responses only serve to make this suspicion more and more concrete.
My Neighbor Seki continues to succeed as a wholly enjoyable comedy series. It’s not like every joke hits, but Morishige’s dedication to conveying both the lengths Seki goes to in screwing around and how irresistibly obnoxious-yet-intriguing Yokoi finds it is admirable.
Story & Art: Takuma Morishige
Publisher: Vertical Comics
© Takuma Morishige 2011