With a series like My Neighbor Seki, that doesn’t rely on typical long-form storytelling, you never know what’s going to happen. The chapter to chapter nature, which is only loosely connected by the characters and the space they inhabit, makes the it rather unpredictable. In the first two volumes, some gags have been established, and they’re back in My Neighbor Seki Volume 3. But the third volume of My Neighbor Seki also introduces some new and interesting activities to the repertoire of our favorite procrastinator.
One of the things Seki loves to do is create interesting scenarios with shogi pieces, and that’s back again this time. As always, it’s a little bit different in My Neighbor Seki Volume 3. This time he actually introduces chess pieces into the fold, and Rumi is quick to narrate the situation as usual. Thankfully, the shogi pieces don’t seem to be used this time around, with only one chapter dedicated to it in this volume. With a comic strip like My Neighbor Seki, there are always going to be gags, but relying on the same gag too often can result in a sense of fatigue.
To balance that out, in My Neighbor Seki Volume 3, Takuma Morishige introduces a few new ideas. The activities in volume 3 range from palm reading all the way to a tea ceremony, but most importantly, a couple of chapters also take place outside of the classroom. When you think as My Neighbor Seki as a comic strip, as I do thanks to the independent nature of each and every chapter, the environment isn’t really that important. As evidenced by the name, what’s important is Seki and the lengths he’ll go to in order to avoid studying. But, just because it’s a very character driven comic strip doesn’t mean that a change of scenery isn’t necessary every now and then.
So when I saw that there were a couple of chapters that take place outside of the classroom, but still on the school grounds — at least for the most part — I was pretty excited. One of the problems that I have with something like My Neighbor Seki is that it’s far too easy to stay in one setting. I was glad to see that in the third volume Takuma Morishige mixed things up a bit, avoiding the loss of my interest. That’s not to say that a series set in one classroom can’t work — I’m a big fan of Assassination Classroom — but it can get pretty tedious.
In fact, one of the things that bothers me about My Neighbor Seki so far, is that a large majority of the dialogue seems to take place between Rumi and Seki. Since they’re the stars of this series, that’s fine, but when you have a room full of other characters to delve into, why not do it? While the focus seems to remain the same in My Neighbor Seki Volume 3, there’s an increasing level in the communication with other classmates, like Goto. Perhaps as the series continues, it will be less isolated and include more of Seki’s classmates. It definitely seems to slowly be going in that direction, and that’s always a good thing.
Translation: Mari Morimoto
Production: Risa Cho, Anthony Quintessenza
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Release Date: 7/14/15
Disclaimer: A copy of My Neighbor Seki Volume 3 was provided to BentoByte by the publisher for the purpose of review.