A Game of Shogi.
A rather unorthodox game of shogi evolves into a high-stakes political tale of betrayal, loyalty, and sacrifice.
I enjoyed the first episode of Tonari no Seki-kun so much that I gave it a nearly perfect rating. However, as I reflected back upon the show, I did develop a slight concern – while I can definitely appreciate a good manzai act in an anime, such things can at times seem repetitive. If the series simply continued with each episode having Seki-kun building various contraptions as Yokoi provided commentary, I would probably keep on watching and laughing, but I don’t know if I would enjoy each subsequent episode as much as the first one.
Therefore, I’m glad to say that episode two, “Shogi”, has alleviated those worries. At first, the premise doesn’t seem all that different than the first episode. What differentiates “Shogi” from “Dominoes”, however, is the role than Yokoi plays throughout the skit.
In “Dominoes”, Seki was the plot’s main actor – his actions drove the story forwards, whilst Yokoi provided the commentary. In “Shogi”, however, Yokoi is much more integral to the overall plot. Seki is still the person whose actions set the scene for the episode, but Yokoi’s monologues are what turn the game of shogi, something that visually speaking is less dramatic than a domino maze, into a hilarious tale of Machiavellian politics worthy of George RR Martin or The Tale of the Heike.
While she obviously has a better grasp of what is and is not appropriate behavior for a classroom environment than Seki, this episode proves that Yokoi is every bit as imaginative as her eccentric classmate. It is her mind that turns Seki’s disregard for the rules of shogi into a proper narrative, which provides for much of the comedy in this skit. In short, Yokoi takes a more active role in the story-telling of the show, and the result is brilliant. Yokoi manages to create protagonists and antagonists in her head that evoke more of an emotional response than some actual characters I’ve encountered in other anime. As this is an 8-minute or so episode, there isn’t much else to say, other than that Tonari no Seki-kun has not only maintained the level of humour that it established with its premier, but improved upon it.
My reviews of last week’s Tonari no Seki-kun and Nisekoi’s first episode should make it clear to anyone that I am quite the fan of Hanazawa Kana, the voice behind Yokoi, so I am admittedly biased towards a series that mainly consists of HanaKana, well, talking. Her internal monologuing as Shiomiya Shiori in The World God Only Knows is what made me a fan, so I am quite pleased that Tonari no Seki-kun has given her a similar opportunity to pull off some hilarious dialogue.
If Tonari no Seki-kun can maintain this balance between Seki’s antics and Yokoi’s commentary, it has a real shot of being one of the best comedies of the winter season.
Episode Rating: 10/10 – what more can one ask for?
- That ED is really growing on me. Might be one of this season’s best.
- This series is definitely reminding me of Nichijō. Seki-kun and Mai-chan would probably get along quite well.
- RIP King. The true one, not that Gold pretender.