Thursday, August 18, 2005

Yotsuba&!, Volume 1

A little girl with green hair moves with her dad to a new neighborhood. She has adventures including catching cicadas, going to a department store, and playing in the rain.

And I'm reading this? And loving it? And trying to find time to re-read it?

After MillarWorld regular Bruno got to me try Scott Pilgrim (which rocked my little world), I decided that I should check out his other recent recommendation: Yotsuba&!. I was certainly a bit skeptical. After all, I read The Ultimates and Desolation Jones and Seven Soldiers .... I don't do "cute". However, I was at Borders with some time to kill, bought the first volume, and headed to the cafe. I then spent an enjoyable hour with some sort of iced Kahlua-flavored coffee creation and this curious little book about a green-haired toddler. It's not often I'll laugh out reading a book, and still less often where I'll do so in public. I sat there chuckling, smiling, and generally just having my day improved by an order of magnitude.

Nothing much happens in Yotsuba&!, in terms of pure plot. She gets into odd little adventures involving swinging on swings and learning about air conditioning, but there's no advancing story. Like a good sitcom, while there's a vague continuity, you could read these in any order once you knew the basic premise. Nothing much happens: it's just the experience of being a curious, happy, exuberant child. In an earlier post, I talked about the huge emotions that make manga work so well. I think that the trick to understanding manga from a perspective grounded in western comics is understanding that the emotions are just as much the point of the story as the plot. In Yotsuba&!, that emotion is joy. Pure and simple joy. It leaps off the page, and is utterly infectious. Yotsuba&! is a mainline hit of good-for-your-soul.

One small note here: ADV Manga, get your act together. Not only is the web address on the back cover broken, but once you use web-fu to find the correct address, Yotsuba&! isn't even there! I'm no marketing expert, but when you have a product this good it makes some sense to mention it on your own website. You can find more info at Amazon.com than you can at the publisher.

I'll just let Yotsuba herself finish out the review for me. She'll say it much better than I can:

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7 comments:

Shawn Fumo said...

Yeah, this is a really fun little book. I picked it up after all the hype online and it is hilarious. The author has a gift with timing and facial expressions. It is good to pick up something like this sometimes and try to anti-jade yourself.

Another manga you might like is Planetes, a near-future tale of junk collectors in space. I think it manages to really capture the feeling of wonder when it comes to space. Good characters, very nice artwork, and the tech seems plausible.

Pata said...

In Yotsuba&!, that emotion is joy. Pure and simple joy. It leaps off the page, and is utterly infectious. Yotsuba&! is a mainline hit of good-for-your-soul.

You nailed it. :) Even the tagline on the merchandise says: "Enjoy Everything" -- it's on the Yotsuba&! day-to-day calendar I have at work.

Mark Fossen said...

Shawn -
Many others have recommended Planetes, and it in "on the list". I'll be continuing to mix in manga with my diet of American comics. I looked at Planetes yesterday at Borders, but bought Yotsuba&! Vulume 2, instead.


pata -
Yotsuba&! day-to-day calendar
What?!?!?

Why Am I guessing that's an import? :) :(

Shawn Fumo said...

Also, Alex Scott posted this on TangognaT's blog:
http://image.blog.livedoor.jp/coco0384/imgs/1/a/1acc7b09.jpg

I don't see how a TV drama will be able to do it justice (just look at her expression in karate!), but could be fun..

Tivome said...

That web page is a HAOX, make up by wishful thinking fans. The anime's not even released yet. You would think something like this would show up on http://www.azumakiyohiko.com/, but it's no where to be found.

And please, Ishihara Satomi is hotter than hot right now; one of the top 3 Dorama actors in Japan. I really much doubt she would do a romance-less story like Yotsubato!, even though one of her biggest hits was the dorama-nization of H2. And please, Fuuka is way taller than her. She's barely 150cm.

And Pata, man, you lucky dog; I didn't get the desk calendar cus it was too late in the year when I heard about it. I need to beef up on my Yotsuba items.

Anyone not being able to enjoy Yotsubato!, methinks, has problem with living in general. :)

Alex Scott said...

Well, that's interesting to know. I was wondering how they'd pull it off.

mattew said...

Yotsuba&! it is one of the best comics i've read in a long time. But i've read issuses 1, 2, and 3 they are all exellent!!!

and i agree with pata on this comment...

"In Yotsuba&!, that emotion is joy. Pure and simple joy. It leaps off the page, and is utterly infectious. Yotsuba&! is a mainline hit of good-for-your-soul.

You nailed it. :) Even the tagline on the merchandise says: "Enjoy Everything" .