My Neighbor Seki Volume 2
My Neighbor Seki volume 2 is just as cute and funny as the first volume by Takuma Morishige, and that consistency is a good thing.
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.)
Oh by the way, I’ve star-ordered Vol. 1 and 2 after reading your reviews, and it’s been a joy to read one chapter each evening. (Gotta make it last!)
Plus, there’s often some meaning under the goofiness, though it doesn’t feel like “a moral lesson”. (For instance, “2nd Period” about politics, or the “16th Period” you mentioned about rehabilitation.)
(In fact, if the publisher would offer three or four select chapters online for free and PR that fact around, I think it could go viral and boost their sales like crazy. It’s episodic enough to sample quickly, and it’s hard to resist laughing once you start.)
Two months ago I’ve also pre-ordered Vol. 3, which hasn’t shipped yet, but since it would take two lame volumes in a row to peel me off this series now, I’m just getting Vol. 4 from this month’s Previews!
That is a great idea, for chapters to be made available, because they do stand alone and they are great.
And you shouldn’t have any worries about V3, since I’ve just read it and it’s as good as the previous.
By the way, I’m now halfway through Vol. 3 and it’s indeed still as fresh and funny, which means I’ll be pre-ordering September’s Vol. 5!
That POOR snow bunny! It’s a cold, CRUEL world! …Wait, “cold” shouldn’t be a problem there. But “warm” would ruin the metaphor. Ah, maybe I should have used “harsh” instead. …Erm, I guess Seki has a gift for making onlookers’s mind drift?
(Also, its backcover has a perceptive blurb from some site I’ll have to check out.)
Ha! Thanks for noticing that. Took me a while.