My Neighbor Seki Volume 2
Yokoi is still distracted by the weirdly creative things Seki does with, on, and to his desk during class, but this installment expands their world a bit with the introduction of a new character and different settings.
The first chapter features a “lucky laugher” game. I’m not familiar with this piece of Japanese culture, but it appears to be a human-oriented version of “pin the tail on the donkey”. A blindfolded player tries to get facial features onto the template of a person, while others laugh at the faces created. Of course, Seki takes it much further, telling the story of a reformed gangster starting a family. In just a few panels, I was left wanting to know more about whether these paper people pieces would find happiness. Morishige sets up characters and situations quickly and thoroughly, drawing in the reader.
In another chapter, Seki involves Yokoi in his card tricks. I’m impressed by the expressiveness of Morishige’s art, particularly here. Yokoi doesn’t just tell us Seki has an “overwrought smile”; he’s shown in the image as almost a ventriloquist’s dummy, his face so fixed in what he thinks a performer should look like.
For fans of other manga, there’s a chapter in which Seki’s bento of hot dogs cut to look like octopus fighters evokes Attack on Titan, with giant warriors trying to eat people. The punchline, with another famous food item shape, is perfect.
There’s also a game with chess pieces rearranged into a tragic generational love story; flower arranging with feet; Seki playing a rather athletic game of jenga; and, as I mentioned, some encounters outside the usual classroom. A field trip to a mountain forest hike reveals some hints into Seki’s childhood (unless Yokoi is reading too much into his reactions). My favorite, the robot family (seen in the first book), returns in a chapter set during a CPR training class at the pool.
We meet new friend Goto in art class, a girl who reads the level of attention Yokoi pays to Seki as sign of an intense attraction. Just as Yokoi’s attention to Seki takes on dramatic heights in her mind, Goto envisions all kinds of romance from watching the other two interact. Ah, youth, when everything is so meaningful … and potentially misunderstood. (The publisher provided a review copy.)