What They Say:
He’s a pest. A menace. And worst of all, he sits next to her in class. All Yokoi wants is to be able to pay attention to her teacher’s lessons, but somehow her focus is always pulled away to what Seki is up to. Because he’s always up to something, whether it’s playing a game or building some mind-boggling creation on his desk. While their teacher is speaking! While Seki should be taking notes! And yet Yokoi is the only one who ever notices. She’s the only one who sees disaster looming as Seki’s nefarious plans slowly build to their evil fruition.
And worst of all, while Seki always seems to get away with it, the constant distractions and paranoia that he’s inducing in Yokoi keep getting HER into trouble! It’s just not fair! But despite the consequences, Yokoi finds herself unable to look away. To ignore him. So with every class, the tension and torture begin again in Tonari no Seki-kun!
Contains episodes 1-21.
The casing itself holds the 21 mini-episodes in 2 DVDs. Upon further inspection, the standard DVD case is of significantly sturdier build than your regular DVD cases today, suggesting it’s a case that’s either been in storage for some time, or an off-brand case you could easily buy in bulk yourself. Not necessarily a bad thing, though since most DVD cases today tend to lean towards having thinner plastic, making for a more fragile feel.
The front cover design gives off the vibe of those discount DVDs you’d find at places like Walmart. Yokoi is ever so slightly off-center while Seki in various acts of silliness surrounds her a la numbers on a clock face (taking the subtitle of “Master of Killing Time” to near-literal levels). The English logo itself is a rather standard bubble-esque font, which I’d be fine with if not for the fact that the slight curve it’s given doesn’t match up against the curve of the clock edge it sits against. It’s plain and sloppy, making for a terrible first impression. Still, can’t judge a show by its cover…
The menu is a standard static image listing the episodes on the disc as the show’s theme song plays. Considering the show itself runs about 5 minutes, the opening theme feels especially short—nowhere near long enough to run on a DVD menu without looping at least once more before you get fully relaxed and finally choose an episode. Navigation itself is simple and direct enough, though, so there’s that.
Extras are as sparse as they come, coming in the form of creditless opening and closing animations and nothing else. The only silver lining to this is that this release collects all the (slight) variants in the opening animation in one convenient place. Much appreciated and definitely something they could have skimped on if they really wanted to.
In terms of audio, I was surprised to notice the series was available in English as well as its original Japanese. Considering how interested Sentai has been in dubbing their releases as of late, I was somewhat curious but ultimately whelmed. The dub itself is serviceable but tends to stick far too closely to the original script, which tends to hinder something like Seki-kun since it’s a comedy first and foremost. Lines from Yokoi explaining the absurdity of Seki’s actions feel wordy at best and slow down the otherwise hilarious romp of each five-minute episode. Doesn’t help that the dub kept in the Japanese honorific “-kun” whenever Yokoi speaks of Seki, making her English delivery feel that much less natural. Not the worst dub I’ve heard, but it did play it far too safe for my liking.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Imagine that one kid from grade school that never paid attention in class and instead played in their own world, distracting you in the process. Now raise it to Animaniacs levels of absurdity. That’s Tonari no Seki-kun in a nutshell.
While the episodes run short and aren’t the best-animated episodes of the modern era (definitely something I wouldn’t mind getting on DVD even though a Blu-ray release is also out), they do have heart where it counts. You’d think that Yokoi being distracted by whatever gimmick Seki sneaks into class that day would get old fast, but there’s enough variation to keep things fresh. The series starts off simply and somewhat believable, as Seki creates an intricate domino display out of erasers, but as the series continues, we’re brought into more obscure territory. Robot families living normal lives, face-scramble games depicting a broken family, mountain-climbing bears… it’s all par for the course as far as Seki is concerned, but just another source of annoyance to poor Yokoi, who just wants to be able to focus in class for once.
Definitely a recent comedy series worth checking out.
Tonari no Seki-kun is one of those series that isn’t the most impressive visually, but delivers comedy-wise more times than not. And with its short run time per episode, it’s incredibly easy to breeze through episodes like popcorn. Not the most spectacular DVD release, but it’s serviceable and still very worth picking up.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening and Closing Animations.
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 12th, 2016
Running Time: 168 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Panasonic 40” HDTV, LG Blu Ray Player Model BD270