Quick announcement; this is my first article written in consciousness of my stuff being posted on WordPress. I’m still getting used to the new system, and will probably need to adjust my format as I learn more about it. With that said, let’s jam.
So we’re four episodes into Seki-kun now, and it’s… well, seriously, how much do you expect me to say about this show? It’s been the same premise played again and again, with superficial changes. Seki is messing around in class; Yokoi gets distracted by it; Yokoi gets in trouble for not paying attention to the lecture. But I knew the show would be repetitive going in –hell, that’s part of why I picked it up, to turn my brain off for a few minutes–, and understood its charm would be in the superficial differences, and presentation of it. So, is that the case?
Well, the different ways that Seki goofs off really aren’t as imaginative as I’d hoped they would be. The first two episodes, where he plays with dominos and shogi tiles are, at this point, the best it’s gotten. Episode three was about desk polishing, and episode four was amateur pointillism with Go stones (note: Go is an east-Asian game not dissimilar to Othello). The premise to four wasn’t too bad, but neither of these episodes had the same imaginative input as the first two.
But the main issue is in the presentation. The animation is poor, but that really doesn’t matter; and music’s generic, which is fine. It’s the storytelling that really harms it. Yokoi is the sole voice of the show (disregarding a handful of lines from the teacher), and she’s not nice to listen to. It’s not the voice actress’ fault; it’s the director and writer’s. They don’t leave a moment of silence in the scrip, so the show’s audio can basically be summed up as: seven minutes of listening to a adolescent girl yell and complain about something (kinda like what I imagine reading this is like). It’s grating and incessant, and makes me happy I don’t understand Japanese.
It’s a shame that this makes me not like the character, because she could be kind of cute and charming if she weren’t so annoying. She’s not a stuck up academic zealot who just chastises Seki for having fun. She seems more like someone who already has to struggle for her grades, and his distractions just make it worse. This only works because she has an imagination on par with Seki’s, and picks up on all the fun bits of his messing around. Like in episode two, when he was playing with the shogi tiles, she got deeply engrossed in the story, and even felt some despair and injustice at the Gold General’s betrayal of his king, so she got involved in that fun. This reminds of playing with my own toys and getting so engaged in it that I was upset when the god guys lost at the end of the day. That’s the kind of thing I was hoping to get out of Seki-kun, that sense of child-like wonder and imagination that not even Miyazaki’s work has fully captured.
The show’s proven that it can be good when it breaks formula a little. It needs to do that more, and work on its audio direction. The ways it’s going I can’t really recommend it to anyone, even given it’s short format, because it doesn’t look like the studio gets the appeal of their own show, and are keeping the imagination grounded. However, they could still come out with at least a couple more good episodes by the end, and in hopes of that, I’m going to keep watching.
Update: Somehow I forgot to mention this earlier, but the show’s ED is wonderful. I just couldn’t leave that unmentioned.