“My Neighbour Seki” is a delightfully simple idea for a slice-of-life 2014 comedy based on the million-selling manga by Takuma Morishige. The main character is schoolboy Toshinari Seki who is a bright, intelligent and mischievous lad who plays games during class rather than studying. This distracts his neighbour Rumi Yokoi who would like to study but finds herself drawn into Seki’s bizarre activities. Although she is dismissive of his antics, she cannot help herself but become emotionally involved in the mini-dramas that play out on Seki’s desk. Each show is only three minutes long and all 21 episodes play out with the same format. There is no overall narrative nor is there any back-story for the characters. As such it simply runs out of steam no matter how charming the bite-size stories are. The entertainment value is really in the weird nature of the games that Seki is enjoying. In the first episode he sets up a truly outlandish domino-toppling setup using erasers. Whatever he does he does it brilliantly well and he gets very intensively (obsessively so) involved in his games. These activities seem often to be novel inventions of his own. In one episode her combines chess and sogi in a conflict game that Yokoi interprets as a military drama in which she gets emotionally involved.
Other activities enjoyed by Seki can hardly be classed as games at all. For example, the time he chose to polish his desk to a high sheen purely for the satisfaction of achieving it. Seki is good at everything he does whether it is crocheting, playing golf, learning to drive an R/C car, playing post-master, carving stamps, playing with robots or small toy bears, fukuwarai, card tricks, etc. In one show he just selected a pair of glasses for himself to wear despite the fact that he does not normally wear glasses! This is all highly imaginative and distinctly odd-ball. There is nothing really conventional about any of this. This is all quite wacky. Pay close attention to the opening titles in which Seki’s activity is strangely self-referential in that he is seen story-boarding and creating an anime… An anime of the opening titles to the show! There are two versions of the opening titles with a single subtle difference between them. Clue: look at Seki’s hand right at the end. This is a fun, throwaway, anime, to fill a bit of time with. Nothing ground-breaking or too engaging but entertaining nevertheless. The games that Seki plays are the star of the show and the way they engage Yokoi’s attention make it all highly watchable. Enjoy. Unbelievably there was a live action version too. The mind boggles.