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Danielle Leigh’s Reading Diary — Yotsuba&! vol 6

by  in Comic News Comment
Danielle Leigh’s Reading Diary — Yotsuba&! vol 6

Our long national nightmare ends now that another volume of our favorite comic, featuring the everyday adventures of a green-haired five year old girl named Yotsuba, has been released.

I always think of Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&! as a comic where “nothing happens” (kind of like a kid’s version of Seinfeld, or in manga genre terms “slice of life”), but volume 6 reminds us that a child’s world can be very large and sometimes a little scary.  In this volume Yotsuba learns about the joy of recycling, becomes an advocate for the deliciousness of milk, and most importantly is initiated into a significant childhood rite of passage when her dad buys her a bike.

As per usual, Yotsuba is always adorable and gets the best lines of the book but I think it is her eyes that are the real story.  They go saucer-like when she makes a strange discovery (KIDS WORK TOO?).  They sparkle like diamonds when they see an eclair for the first time (That looks yummy!).  Her pupils turn into cat’s slits when defensive (I won’t eat Daddy’s treat!).  Or they grow transparent with tears when she discovers the bittersweet nature of parent’s love — Yotsuba wasn’t supposed to bike without her daddy to deliver milk to the neighbor at her school?

I laughed a lot through this entire volume but for the first time this was laughter of recognition — suddenly I remembered what it was like to test the boundaries of my childhood world and experience parental displeasure at my solitary “adventure” out there in grown up land.  Yes, Yotsuba is still having adventures but somehow those adventures now seem almost to be leaving a mark of experience on our young protagonist.  Or at least gaining the very little wisdom all five year old children should have.

Hats off to Yen Press for not only picking up the title, but also for releasing the first five volumes with a new translation (which is lucky move for us since a number of the later volumes have gone out of print under ADV, I believe).  The scripts flows beautifully, and cultural notes are integrated into the page instead of compiled as endnotes at the back of the book (a smart choice that allows for a smooth reading experience).  As always, Yotsuba is rendered for maximum adorability with her triumphant, cheerful, attentive expressions, but Azuma also gives us tired, confused, anxious, determined, and brave Yotsuba as well.  There a million Yotsubas and the joy of the book is watching her cycle through all those emotions in a single chapter and still come out the other side ready to do it all over again the next day.

Review copy provided by Yen Press.

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