Monday, August 30, 2010

Manga Mondays - Yotsuba&! Vols 1-3

Yotsuba&! is a series by Kiyohiko Azuma, who also did Azumanga Daioh, which I really enjoyed so picking up Yotsuba&! was a no brainer for me. Did I enjoy the series? Hit the jump for my review and find out.

Yotsuba&! Vols 1-3
Written by Kiyohiko Azuma
Art by Kiyohiko Azuma
Adaption by Amy Forsyth and Stephen Paul

Yotsuba&! is one of the most charming comics I've ever read. Although the premise sounds simple, the series chronicles the daily adventures of five-year old Yotsuba Koiwai, as always, it comes down to the execution.

What makes Yotsuba&! such a great series is that Azuma manages to capture the child-like wonder that Yotsuba has during her adventures and convey in such a way that it's as if you are almost reliving your own childhood, which is what makes the series so endearing.

Yotsuba&! is a comedy series and Azuma has a fantastic handle on that. The humor also translates well and very little of it is based on material that would only work in Japanese though some of it is situational to Japan but easily explained with a few translations notes. The comedy is very enjoyable and covers mostly everyday and mundane situations though it can tend towards the more absurd at times, which does help to create some variety.

The cast is another thing that makes the series so wonderful. There are a lot of diverse personalities among them so they each play off Yotsuba, as well, in different ways. The characters all have their own unique quirks which not only help with the comedy but give the series some depth as well. This makes the series more than just a gag series that relies on jokes to carry it since the characters are developed well enough to be interesting in their own right. This also allows Azuma to tell jokes that are built up because of the character's familiarity with each other and not just having to rely on more one-note gags that he would be restricted to using with less developed characters.

Azuma's art shares all the qualities that his writing has. Comedy is a hard thing to pull off in comics at times but Azuma handles it with such grace and ease. He also perfectly translates Yotsuba's enthusiasm to the art, which is what makes many of the scenes work. His comedic exaggerations and flourishes also help in this regard and are some of the most interesting and visually engaging ones I've seen but, like a lot of the series, they are not terribly different from what you might normally see in any given manga but his level of craft is so high that it takes it to another level.

One thing that stands out to me about his art though is that the backgrounds are almost photo-realistic, though they still look drawn, which contrasts against the characters, who are drawn in a more cartooning style, which makes them jump off the page and seem as though they are alive.

Verdict - Must Read. Yotsuba&! is a charming and delightful series with an engaging cast and a wonderful sense humor that can appeal to anyone.

Like this review? Interested in Yotsuba&! Vol 1? Buy it on and help support the Weekly Crisis!

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botolo86 said...

I totally agree with you, this manga is simply beautiful! A total must read!

Klep said...

The only bad thing about Yotsuba is that jerk Yanda. You suck Yanda! >:(

Fortunately Yotsuba is generally victorious in their conflicts.

Anonymous said...

Yanda + Yotsuba = pure win. :D

Like Scott Pilgrim it's not so much the story which makes you want to come back but the characters. I seriously love this comic. I wish it would come out more regularly though, the wait in between is torture.

mugiwara said...

While I like Yotsuba&, I fail to understand why everybody like it SO MUCH. It's fun, but the stories are a bit too stretched and the fact it is all about one single character can make them a bit boring. Basically, it puts a smile on my face but don't make me laugh so much.
Azumanga Daioh by the same mangaka is by far a funnier manga. While in Yotusba&, there is one crazy character and a bunch of relatively normal support characters, Azumanga Daioh has a full cast of crazy and charming people with only 1 or 2 "normal" characters.
Also, Yanda is an underrated character. He is very important to Yotsuba, because he teach her that just because she is a child, everybody won't always be nice to her and accpet all her egositic fantaisies. This world needs more Yanda.

blueairplane said...

I've just started reading this, and I couldn't agree more. Another humor manga series I'd recommend is "Leave it to PET!" It looks kinda cheesy -- the premise is that when you recycle something it's made into a super robot designed to help you when you're in need -- but it's very zany and funny.

Eric Rupe said...

Klep - Actually, I love Yanda. He's hilarious. Plus, he's the perfect rival for Yotsuba since he is basically an adult verson of her.

mugiwara - I guess that people might find Yotsuba&! more endearing overall. Azumanga Daioh is fine and I do like it but it's not really easy to connect with any of the characters since they are so oddball, unlike the more ground characters in Yotsuba&!.

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