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Yotsuba Wins!

by  in Comic News Comment
Yotsuba Wins!

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 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.

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.

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.”

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:

(Thanks, Omar)

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