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Yotsuba Wins!

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Oh My Sweet Lord! It’s a Fire Hydrant! It’s a FREAKING FIRE HYDRANT! WOW! HOLY CATS! I am FREAKING OUT at how RED it is! GOSH! Why is it so red?! What does the knobby thing up top do! OH MY GOSH! There are CHAINS on the side! DO! YOU! HEAR! ME! CHAINS!

I have adopted Yotsuba as my personal idol.

Therefore, I am devoting my life to acting in as Yatsuba-esque a fashion as possible, which is kind of like getting in with my inner child.

Except moreso.

A LOT moreso.

Bout a week back SEVERAL weeks back I took a “What Manga Should I Read Next” poll, and (unless I counted wrong) that green haired moppet above was the winner, beating out One Piece by all of one vote. (Although I did get the first two volumes of One Piece outta the library.)

It got a LOT of praise from you guys.

Dave Said

one of the most charming, purely enjoyable comics I’ve read since Calvin and Hobbes, and Azuma’s sense of comedic timing is dead-on.

The Eyeball Kid said

My wife and I use it as an emergency emotional band-aid whenever we get bad news.

And kb said

It’s a celebration of life. I could not recommend it more.

And it was a good recommendation. She’s an interesting kid and I’m glad to have met her.
yotsuba.JPG

Yotsuba is a five year old girl who has just (as of page one of volume 1) moved to an unnamed, suburban section of Japan from…. somewhere else. She’s being raised by a single dad, a laid back professional translator who hangs around the house half-dressed and seems strangely unworried that his adopted daughter is prone to disappearing for hours on end.

Often she’s at the neighbor’s house, hangin’ with the three sisters who live next door. Her most constant companion, Fuka, is pictured below.
yotsubato2.jpg

And while the supporting characters are well fleshed out and defined, these seven stories aren’t so much about Yotsuba interacting with the people around her as they are about Yotsuba reacting to her environment. And she reactions come in two flavors: Rain, cicada bugs, escalators, and swings are the GREATEST THINGS IN THE WORLD EVER – Air Conditioners and Strangers are THE MOST HORRIBLE THINGS THAT HAVE EVER BEEN.

yotsuba-shock.jpg

All of this is quite a change from the American Charlie Brown/Calvin/Huey/Bart Simpson type of American comic strip kid, who are basically adults but shorter. Possibly due to the presence of actual grown-ups, Yotsuba acts, talks, and moves like a kid – And also does things for absolutely no reason.

Which is what kid’s DO, but it’s not something that’s reproduced in stories about children very often.

Example: (I work with different groups of kids.) Small Child: “I found money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. Money. (Repeat 50 times.)”

Me: “Do y’think you could talk about something else for a while?”

Small Child: “Ok. *Thinks* “Poopy. Poopy. Poopy. Poopy. Poopy. Poopy. (Etc.)”

When I first looked the book over I was afraid it was gonna be a little TOO cute for it’s own good. One commentator even called it ‘Terminally Cute.’

But then again, other folks called it “But I think it avoids this trap nicely:

First of all there’s no moralizing. You know those cute kid movies where they the adults around her to love again or to absorb the wonder of the universe or whatever? There’s precious little of that here. The adults occasionally admire her free-spirited live-for-the-moment-ness, but mostly just respond to her like Real adults do to Real Children – Most often with condescension or confusion, even her dad.

“IF you find a girl… You think is really stange… That’s probably her.”

But that doesn’t stop them from occasionally getting swept up by her infectious enthusiasm… AND OH MY GOD! A DOG WITH A FLUFFY TAIL!

Sorry. Yotsuba moment. Personal Idol and all.

The second reason is that there seems to be a lot of darkness… or at least potential darkness to the story. Now it’s POSSIBLE I’m reading to much into this, but Yotsuba was adopted from… somewhere that the main characters do not talk about, and not only was she adopted “I just started looking after her as my own” her father says. When asked where she comes from Yotsuba replies “From the left. Or maybe a little bit right.”

yotsubato1.jpg

Which is a VERY child-like answer. Which is maybe Yotsuba‘s greatest strength. It’s cheerful – but not obnoxiously so – and it still feels honest. Not only does Yotsuba act like a kid but each of the character’s have or imply their own confused and complicated inner lives, although more anchored in reality as they get older. (Interestingly, the YOUNGER the character being portrayed, the more cartoonishly they are depicted. Yotsuba’s father is darn-near photo-realistically drawn, while Yotsuba herself… Well, you’ve seen her.)

Certainly a highly RECOMMENDED comic, one that’s very uniquely it’s own thing, and, well, I pretty much agree with everything y’all said.

Nice Job. :)

And, to close in true Yotsuba fashion:

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(Thanks, Omar)

26 Comments

I have to agree.

I have students who almost refuse to read anything in my classroom, and I brought in Yotsuba. Most popular book in my class now, and that includes going against normal comics. So popular … student stole copies!!! Every student who reads it, every person I suggest it to, loves it (except one who said she likes more fan service “ie hot babes” in her manga).

It is such a good series. Can’t recommend it enough. Azumanga Daioh though is good too, but Yotsuba may stand as the best manga around in so many ways. My wife and my 10 year old argee about who gets to read it first … when I let them know the new book came in…

Veidt.

Okay, I read this post three times to see if there was anything at all that would make me want to read this comic.

Um… nope.

Most popular book in my class now, and that includes going against normal comics.

Nice. Although don’t most kids call Manga “Normal comics” now-a-days?

(except one who said she likes more fan service “ie hot babes” in her manga..

Come on. Asagi’s hot! Her mom’s kind of a babe. That turtle-girl is kind of hot in a “looks like a boy” sort of way.

Okay, I read this post three times

Don’t do that! You’ll notice all the typos!

to see if there was anything at all that would make me want to read this comic

In the first draft of this I compared it to Dave Sim’s stuff.

Does that help :)

Is that last pic a real scan or a fakey-mc-fakepants?

Either way its awesome.

Yotsuba is a fantastic comic and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. I recommended it as well in your original poll, though I also still highly recommend Monster when you get the chance.

As for the subsequent volumes (the series is currently up to volume 5), the ‘adoption’ issue hasn’t really come into play (in fact I forgot all about it until you mentioned it) and the humor gets even better and better. I’ve never laughed out loud so hard at a comic before. The creator also seems to like pairing up Yotsuba’s dad with the middle sister from next door. It’s not exactly a romance yet, but I can’t help but wonder where that story element may lead to.

Volume 6 just got solicited in the newest Previews and I can’t wait for it.

Waiwaiwaiwaiwait. Isn’t Fuka, like, 12? And he, like, Dad-age? If a bit on the young side of dad age?

s that last pic a real scan or a fakey-mc-fakepants?

Either way its awesome.

Dunno. Found it using Google Image search, and the site it came from was down.

And, yes, I’m ending all my posts on this blog with it.
Forever.

Azuma is a freaking manga GOD. To first create the very funny 4-panel gag strips of Azumanga Daioh, then to manage to top that with full sequential pages of Yotsuba&! which may actually be even funnier is genius at work.
I love his art too. It so simple, and so expressive, and so incredibly accurate to real every day Japan. When I was a foreign exchange student living out there, I came to appreciate his work even more, because even though he’s Japanese, he notices Japan through the eyes of a gaijin. Very observant guy, he notices all the little quirks of life and is able to create characters like Yotsuba or Osaka (from Azumanga) who celebrate the enjoyment life’s little oddities can bring!

My favourite thing in the whole of Yotsuba is when she’s in the furniture section of a shop, and she climbs into this drawer and peers out of it. It struck a chord with my own childhood and I couldn’t stop laughing!

I’m of the firm belief that everyone needs to read the water-gun fight in volume 2. And I mean everyone.

Fuka’s 16, actually. Not that it makes it okay, but hey, Japan. This is the same country that gave us Kodomo no Jikan.

Yotsuba is such a charming, lovely comic that I’ve taken to threatening to beat people unless they read it.

Dave said:
“Fuka’s 16, actually. Not that it makes it okay, but hey, Japan. This is the same country that gave us Kodomo no Jikan.”

Please don’t mention that book here, it has no relation on the discussion. As for Mark’s question about it being okay, yes it would be actually, because 16 is the legal age for marriage and consent in most of Japan. I’m not saying the book is headed that way, there just seems to be a lot of pairing between the dad and Fuka.

Wait wait how is a japanese manga a comic????

I’ve been reading Yotsuba from the beginning, but I’ve never really noticed anything between Koiwai and Fuka. They hardly show any interest in each other outside of their relationship as neighbors, and the time she spends with Yotsuba. The closest things to romance we ever really see in Yotsuba are Jumbo’s crush on Asagi (who is in college), and Fuka’s heartbreak in volume 4.

Kiyohiko Azuma doesn’t really focus a lot on romantic angst or entanglement, either, which is actually one of his greater strengths. It allows him to use more humor based on the characters just being themselves, and if there is romance, it’s only to build some jokes out of it. He took the same approach in his previous manga, Azumanga Daioh.

(Now out in a 1-volume omnibus! Hint hint!)

(but yeah, now read Monster)

I should add that I know exactly what Eyeball Kid means. Last year I had to go to the hospital for depression and anxiety. I was miserable with myself and my situation, and when it came time for my family to visit, I was very specific about what I wanted: A Game of Thrones, and all three then-available volumes of Yotsuba&!

Wait wait how is a japanese manga a comic????

Best definition I’ve read of what a comic is:

http://comixtalk.com/is_this_a_comic_part_2

There’s certainly some unique stylistic traits to Japanese comics, but it’sall the same medium.

Thanks, Mark. I appreciate your perspective as a new manga reader. I’ll check out Yotsuba.

All of this is quite a change from the American Charlie Brown/Calvin/Huey/Bart Simpson type of American comic strip kid, who are basically adults but shorter.

I’ve seen reviewers state that what makes Calvin work is that he’s a kid, not just a short adult – and I think that’s true. (I’ve seen the same comment about Charlie Brown, but don’t know enough about Peanuts to have an opinion on it.)

“Best definition I’ve read of what a comic is:

http://comixtalk.com/is_this_a_comic_part_2

There’s certainly some unique stylistic traits to Japanese comics, but it’sall the same medium. ”

No no no…… Don’t try to call japanese manga “comics” comics and manga are two different things.

Well, let’s look at the definition I linked too:

Audience Experience: Yep. The audience controls how fast they read Manga.

Closure and Synthesis: Yes. There is both text and pictures, and there are sets of related pictures.

Use of visual Language: Yes. The author actually sites “Speed Lines” as an element of this.

Intent of Creator: Not COMPLETELY sure what this one means. But I think “yes” and Manga is obviously “comics” by the other definitions.

It might help to think of manga as a dialect of comics. It uses the same basic “words” and “grammar” as American or European comics, but uses them in its own unique way.

Yeah, A.S. That’s a good way to put it.

“It might help to think of manga as a dialect of comics. It uses the same basic “words” and “grammar” as American or European comics, but uses them in its own unique way.”

The point is that although a manga is a comic you don’t call it a comic because manga is associated with comics from japan. While the term comic is associated with western comics and yotsuba is therefore not a comic.

Anon, well, you have a right to your opinion.

But Will Eisner called comics

Will Eisner called comics

“”the printed arrangement of art and balloons in sequence.”

Scott McCloud called ‘em “uxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.”

And forgive me if I’ma gonna go with Will Eisener and Scott McCloud’s definition over yours. (Although I actually think the first guy I linked too earlier had a better definition.)

Comics is a MEDIUM. Same as prose. Same as film.

If a book is written in Japan=, it’s still prose. If a movie is made in Japan, it’s still film.

Waitasec. Lemme see if I’ve got this straight. Manga are comics, but they’re not comics because they’re comics from somewhere else? I don’t get it.

Honestly, I do think that the “dialect” of manga is different enough from American and European comics to justify using “manga” as a descriptive term. No argument there. But they are still clearly the same language.

It’s especially pointless to argue since the Japanese themselves use the “comics” themselves (although they would never dream of calling any comic “manga”). See, for example, the label “Jump Comics” on a Japanese edition of Dragon Ball or Death Note, or Comiket, the massive semiannual “Comic Market.” So while not all comics are manga, all manga are indeed comics.

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