Manga-ka: Kiyohiko Azuma
Publisher: ADV Manga
Rating: All Ages
Released: October 2007
Synopsis: “It’s the end of an endless summer, and Yotsuba is out to make the most of it. First, she’ll go toe-to-toe with a cardboard robot, then help out the neighbours by eating their grapes and spearheading an impromptu trip to the beach. But when her ice cream is stolen by Yanda, Koiwai’s understudy, Yotsuba may have to admit she’s finally met her match!”
The little clover-leaf head Yotsuba returns for another fun filled volume! In this book it’s time for the beach and walks on rainy days. There are lots of new adventures to be had but first Yotsuba needs to befriend a robot and survive an encounter with one who could be her greatest foe yet!
Enter Yanda, Koiwai’s understudy. After showing up unannounced one day and trying to trick his way into her house, Yotsuba already knew this guy was trouble. She just didn’t know how much: he mocks her, eats her ice cream and calls her on the phone to say mean things from her own living room! Yotsuba’s frustration knows no bounds and as usual it’s hilarious watching her try to deal, especially with Yanda being the first person to rival her as such a trouble-making instigator. Though only a short chapter, it was my favourite in the book and I hope he makes a return, if only to watch Yanda vs Yotsbua part two!
Rainy day errands, chores around the house and trips to the beach take readers through more typical days with Yotsuba for the rest of the book. Seeing the world through her eyes is both adorable and refreshing. I don’t think it could ever get old. These are the only books I read where I’ll laugh until my eyes tear, even the second or third time through, or smile fondly at just how adorable this little kid can be. She’s such a handful! The patience, kindness and often necessary little mind games her friends and family use to keep her in line is heart-warming and equally as amusing.
If there’s someone you could say has mastered their craft, I’d be highly tempted to say Kiyohiko Azuma. The art style here in Yotsuba&! is simple but don’t let that blind you from the incredible skill behind it. The backgrounds are rich with detail and proper perspective and the character posing feels very natural. There’s a level of consistency from page to page that comes only from years of practice. Have I mentioned how downright and undeniably cute Yotsuba is? Much of the story works through the art, be it a sudden scene switch to Yotsuba adorably clothed in her new raincoat or her wildly dramatic facial changes when facing the evils of Yanda. Art and story combined make for a pacing that brings these pages to vibrant life.
So another volume down and Yotsuba&! continues to be a series I feel I could read forever (and I probably will with its superb reread value). This is a manga that can be enjoyed and laughed along with by anyone: humour from the everyday and sweet in a way that touches the heart. Yotsuba’s innocence and honesty is charming beyond belief and for any who’ve read a volume before, it goes without saying that the next book, and any after it, is looked forward to with great anticipation!