The "teasing master" takes it a little too far.
I decided to give Takagi-san a shot after seeing a lot of cute screencaps on twitter. It's show about two kids sitting in neighboring seats at school teasing each other. Except something was off. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but this something about this show made me feel bad.
After a few episodes I decided to give Tonari no Seki-kun a rewatch and quickly figured out what it was that was bothering me. The power dynamic between the two characters was all wrong. Takagi is simply frustrating in her constant oneupmanship with little consequence, while Nishikata is constantly berated by the teacher or foiled by Takagi. It makes for an atmosphere that is far from cute and relaxing. Takagi and Nishikata's relationship consists almost entirely of pranking one-another, or really Takagi pranking Nishikata and Nishikata trying and failing to prank her back while getting in trouble in class.
There's some sort of budding romance thing going on between them, but it honestly feels forced. Takagi is absolutely awful at showing any restraint. She's completely blind to emotional pain she's causing Nishikata. There's a few points where it felt closer to bullying than teasing, really.
Compare that to Seki and Yokoi's dynamic, which is much more natural and balanced. Seki goes and does his ridiculous forms of goofing-off in class, while Yokoi tries to pay attention in class. She, of course, gets distracted by him and struggles to not make a scene despite her innate need to provide tsukkomi reactions to the events unfolding before her. He's super good at goofing off, she's the straight-man. She's always well-intentioned, looking out for Seki when he's about to get caught by the teacher or providing a reluctant helping hand. The ridiculous things Seki does aren't targeting her for a prank or trying to get her in trouble with the teacher. They're simply him goofing off. The show doesn't try to be something more complex than that and that's why it's such a good show.
Not even eyebrows-chan could save this show for me.
⚠ SUCKUGA ALERT ⚠
In my careful analysis of this show I found not a single smear. Checking against the booru I confirm there's not much but suckuga to be found here.
Verdict: Just watch Seki-kun
If you needed another reason to, here's its absolute banger of an ending song.
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