3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Once upon a time there was this lazy guy named Koiwai who worked as a translator. He went to work on some island where he encountered a small girl who decided he was interesting, and spent all her time hanging about. In his lazy way of living, he sort of just went with the flow and allowed this small orphan girl to drag him along her pace and before he knew it, he was taking care of her. Then he had to go back to Japan, which of course meant that little Yotsuba went back with Daddy. And there, she made new friends as she met Daddy's friends back in Japan. They are all really nice, right? Yotsuba likes them very much! But what is this? Daddy has a truck with boxes in it and we are going for a ride! Hey, there is Daddy's friend Jumbo! He helps us take the boxes into that house! Ohh...Yotsuba is having a new adventure, right, right?
This is a charming little manga that is revolves around five year old Yotsuba and her family, friends, and neighbours. While it is rated for all ages, it is not a children's comic in the least. Rather, like Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes, it takes a look at the world from a child's point of view and the reactions of those about them. Unusually, each chapter follows upon the next in actual time lapse order, so that each "episode" is one day of Yotsuba's life, and each succeeding volume is a continuation of her day to day experiences. This is therefore a slice of life type manga, dealing as it does with day to day life matters. The &! At the end of the title is because each chapter is the second half of an actual sentence, so that particular day's event is along the lines of "Yotsuba and Global Warming" or "Yotsuba and the TV". This may not sound very exciting, but Yotsuba is a very interesting child, looking at the world with a wide eyed innocence and taking everything quite literally with unexpected results.
Given the cast of characters who support Yotsuba in her story, this is usually a very humorous piece of work. Daddy is not your usual sort of fellow, often working from home sat about in his boxer shorts and an undershirt no matter the time of day. Being a bit on the vague side himself, he makes the perfect match for Yotsuba as her parent, as he sort of drifts along until surprised by what is going on. His friends are just as funny. One fellow, Yanda, is mentioned but never seen in this first volume, and one gets the impression he is a bit of a slacker as he makes commitments to show up for things and then sends his excuses along with fellow friend Jumbo. Jumbo is a frequent character seen, and he often is a co-conspirator of Yotsuba's. Named thusly due to his gigantic size (just under 7 foot tall), he is an amiable fellow who seems to strangely have time available from work in order to go play in parks and watch TV at the Koiwais. This probably has a lot to do with the reason he lacks a girlfriend, though he lives in hope. In fact, his big hope seems to be one of the three neighbour girls that Yotsuba-chan as befriended. It doesn't matter how old they are, they like Yotsuba, right? So Yotsuba is going to get them and their much more grown up friends to play, okay? Of course, Jumbo doesn't mind inviting himself along in that case, but Yotsuba manages to keep things from running as smoothly as Jumbo would like. Serves him kinda right for trying to trick a little kid into being his Cupid. But then, Yotsuba does not know, and she probably would not mind, 'cause Jumbo is really, really, nice, yeah?
My daughter is eight, and having previously enjoyed some children's manga, she was looking for more titles to consume. I actually first came across this thanks to a recommendation from an online publication that reviewed books for school libraries in the USA, and decided to check it out. I was charmed at once with it, and decided it would be a nice introduction to some unsugary manga for my daughter. At eight she is at that age where she still loves to play but really wants to be seen as a big kid, so I thought that would appeal to her. Indeed it has, with her identifying both with Yotsuba herself as much as she does the older girls next door. The humour does not escape her, though admittedly, seeing it as she does from the child's point of view, she will miss some of the subtleties I myself caught from the more grown up point of view. It caught her attention enough that after unwrapping this at Christmas, she read it straight through and then came with her Amazon gift certificate in hand asking for us to order succeeding volumes. I have to admit this is so good, I read the next one as it arrived before she did (bad Mummy!), and am waiting for her to loan me the third one as it has only just arrived and is currently in her hands.
Mangaka Kiyohiko Azuma is actually quite well known for another of his slice of life works, Azumanga Daioh. I admit I had somehow managed to not come across this series before, either, but this is being remedied thanks to my enjoyment of Yotsuba&! Kiyohiko's works take the seemingly mundane, and add a little spin to them. Like the western comics Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts, the situations are not unrealistic in themselves, but extremely funny in how they play out. Unlike these two comics, however, his works do not rely on any characters that are fantastic, such as Snoopy, or the main character's imagination such as Calvin's dealings with Hobbes. Rather, it is the small eccentricities each person has that is brought to the fore by the actions of Yotsuba that often lead to the wryly turning corners of the mouth and the outright bursts of laughter by the reader. In keeping with this principle, the art is itself quite unique. While leaning towards realism, it avoids the often unattractive depiction of some characters, but by the same token, it avoids the typical prettification of faces and clothing often seen in other manga. It straddles a middle line, with its own quite distinct stamp that requires no artist's signature to know who the artist was. With art designed to reflect the stories and not to slot neatly within any particular genre, it is no surprise that this and his other works carry such appeal across the reading public's demographics.
Being a series with such universal appeal has led to a rather nostalgic feeling between my daughter and me as well. Where once we curled up together and enjoyed sharing a story, such as the Gruffalo or Where the Wild Things Are, now we can share our mutual enjoyment over the deceptively simple escapades of this little lady and her family and friends. Sitting over a cup of tea and giggling together over a shared book is a wonderful feeling and so it is that now when I think of this book, I find myself feeling rather warm and fuzzy while anticipating the next. As Yotsuba might say, "Hey, let's go have fun, okay?" You betcha.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2009
I figured the words of Yotsuba herself would adequately title this little review of what has turned out to be a truly amazing manga.
This first volume begins with the titular girl herself and her dad moving to a new place and meeting their new neighbours. Where from? From the `left' apparently.
Yotsuba's insatiable curiosity and ability to see the awesomeness in practically anything are endearing qualities, even if the locals don't quite follow. They prove to be an understanding bunch (if left clueless sometimes - Yotsuba logic is truly her own brand) and she soon settles in as a permanent fixture.
I find Kiyohiko Azuma's storytelling to be very easy and a whole lot of fun to follow. You can't help but be uplifted by it, a good sense of humour drawn from the meeting of girl and life.
It's true, but I just got sucked in to reading it again, while i was reminding myself of the various goings-on. Next thing you know, the pages are turning and I'm chuckling away..
Yotsuba has great charm, smatterings of inane hilarity and amusing quips, pleasantly unified by the great little adventures of endearing people.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2012
It's very rare that I laugh out loud at something I read. It happened with "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" almost 20 years ago, and with some of the antics of Thomson and Thompson of "Tintin" fame, also back when I was a wee nipper.
Here, many years later, at an age where most are defined as "grown ups", I find myself snickering at the various tiny little silly details Yotsuba offers the reader.
Touching and random and typically childish. Yotsuba and her father moves into a new neighborhood, where they meet, and quickly socialise with the
family next door. It's small stories, but huge for a five year old kid - moving to a new place, finding a playground with swings, seeing a giant shopping mall for the first time, standing in the rain and so on, and so forth.
I instantly fell in love with the characters, all of them, wonderfully quirky lot.
I wholeheartedly recommend this for those within whom still resides an active and playful child.
Go play with Yotsuba guys and girls, she's good company.
on 27 July 2011
Yotsuba is a slice-of-life manga that revolves around four year old Yotsuba when she moves to a different home. It follows her daily everyday life, while this does sound quite dull in concept, is everything but.
Azuma makes the simple things seem downright hilarious, especially with her behaviour towards her dad and the neighbours. I don't want to give anything away, but you are guaranteed to laugh throughout the book.
Also, the artwork is amazing, Azuma certainly spent a lot of time drawing the scenery compared to Azumanga Daioh!
My one only problem with the book was the translation of a certain joke, when Yotsuba mixes up 'translator' (Honyakuka) to 'Konnyakuya' which is a person who makes konnyaku (google it!) In the Yen Press version, it's simply 'translator - trashloader' which is fine, until it gets later on in the series when the translated joke doesn't make any sense. Just a small annoyance though!
Overall an amazing manga, I would easily recommend it to any slice-of-life genre fans!