Yotsuba&!, vol. 1

If you’ve been wondering where to find a manga title that really is for all ages, then look no further. This hilarious and madcap series from Kyohiko Azuma, creator of Azumanga Daioh, is exactly what you want. Yotsuba&! (the title of which is the best and most accurate translation of the title language in Japanese) follows the adventures of Yotsuba, an energetic and curious little girl who’s just moving to the city with her father. She’s a bit, well, weird, never having seen a swing before and determined to find out about everything in her new neighborhood. She quickly meets (and puzzles) the three Ayase sisters who live next door. Yotsuba is especially good at finding adventure in the most ordinary tasks – she goes to the bathroom one morning only to find that the lock is broken. The only way out is through the window (but of course!), and in her pajamas and slippers she roams the streets discovering the use of doorbells, to the bemusement of her neighbors. She only remembers to go home once someone questions her attire. The whole book works gently and comically, featuring all manner of amusing slapstick and always from the point of view of the irrepressible Yotsuba. Her kind but often spacey dad, Koiwai, is patient and maintains a “go with the flow” attitude, making a good support for the rambunctious girl, and her new neighbors help her adjust to the daily wonders of her new home and friends. I haven’t laughed out loud so much as anything in a long time, and the comic timing and articulate simplified expressions common in manga art make the whole ride through Yotsuba’s life one not to be missed. As her father says, she can find happiness in anything. We all need to be reminded, sometimes, that standing in a rainstorm can be the best.

Yotsuba&!, vol. 1
By Kyohiko Azuma
ISBN: 9780316073875
Yen Press, 2009 (2nd edition)

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