My Neighbor Seki Volumes 3-4
My Neighbor Seki is the kind of series it’s difficult to continue talking about, because it’s full of stand-alone chapters, all of the same consistent high quality.
As I’ve previously explained, Seki comes up with all kinds of distractions during class, which drives Rumi crazy, since she’s trying to pay attention, but Seki’s activities are so much more interesting. In volume 3, they’re so wide-ranging:
- Digging for fossils in his desktop
- Snow sculpture — with an adorable bunny!
- A variety of weird art projects
- Practicing the driver license road test
- Conducting a tea ceremony
- Panning for gold
Particularly impressive is how Seki doesn’t speak. Rumi’s interpretation of his moods (and the reader’s) depends on watching his expressions, beautifully cartooned by author Takuma Morishige. Poor Rumi always gets the short end of the stick, too, as she’s the one who’s seen to be not paying attention. Seki’s got almost magical abilities to not get caught, or even seen by anyone but Rumi.
They don’t always stay seated. One chapter has Seki pitting chess pieces against shogi tiles, with Rumi inserting herself in the battle by creating ghost fighters. On a day when Rumi is out sick, classmate Goto reads Seki’s paper figure fight as symbolic of the relationship she imagines the other two have. Glasses fans will appreciate the chapter in which Seki shops for different frames at his desk.
Every book contains a chapter with a toy robot family. They’re wonderfully posed, demonstrating how well Morishige sketches characters quickly. Although they’re toys, they seem like cast members, with their own challenging situations.
In volume 4, the students all go to art class, where they have to draw each other in a multi-layered tale. There’s also an outdoors ball game with a surprise at the end and other field day activities. The Christmas story, involving decorating a tree in unusual ways, is demented. My favorite is the two-part robot family story, which greatly expands Rumi and Seki’s level of interaction, taking them from park to home.