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Yotsuba&! Volume 4

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Cover artwork for Japanese edition of Yotsuba&! Volume 4 manga by Kiyohiko Azuma

Yotsuba&! Volume 4

© Kiyohiko Azuma / Yotuba Sutazio / MediaWorks

The Bottom Line

The simple joys of summer have never been so delightful as when they're seen through the eyes of Yotsuba, the little green-haired girl who just moved into the neighborhood. A trip to the fishing hole or to the neighbor's house to enjoy the air conditioning turn into hilarious adventures. Yotsuba's quirky take on everyday life will have readers smiling from cover to cover.

Yotsuba&! has moments of dry humor that are distinctly Japanese in flavor and includes a few cultural references that might leave some U.S. readers perplexed. Nevertheless, it's a genuinely fun-to-read gem that even non-manga readers will love.

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Pros

  • Witty stories that capture the slice of life moments of summer in Japan
  • Lots of laugh-out-loud scenes that leave you with a smile on your face from cover to cover
  • Crisp, un-fussy artwork, with delightful character expressions
  • Well-defined characters that only get more interesting each time you meet them

Cons

  • Relies on a dry, quirky and very Japanese sense of humor
  • Includes a few cultural references and Japanese puns that might confuse English readers

Description

  • Original Title:Yotsuba to! (Yotsuba and...!) (Japan)

  • Artist and Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-0316073912
  • Cover price: $9.99 US
  • Age Rating: E - Everyone / A - All Ages for gentle humor that adults and kids will appreciate
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  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: July 2007 (ADV Edition), September 2009 (Yen Press Edition)
  • Book Details: 178 pages, paperback format, black and white illustrations
  • Other Books by Kiyohiko Azuma
    • Azumanga Daioh!
    • Wallaby

Guide Review - Yotsuba&! Volume 4

The hottest days of summer are the backdrop of Volume 4 of this latest installment of the adventures of Yotsuba, a naïve but well-meaning little girl who has just moved into the neighborhood. Yotsuba&! Volume 4 is full of delightful surprises that left me smiling from cover to cover.

By this point, we've come to know Yotsuba's easy-going dad, his kind but competitive friend Jumbo, and their new neighbors, the Ayase family. So as each humorous scenario occurs, we laugh along with their true-to-their-personality actions and reactions.

From Jumbo's efforts to give the neighborhood girls a fishing trip to remember to Yotsuba's attempt to combat global warming by turning on all the air conditioners in the house, everything happens naturally, as if you were watching your slightly funnier friends going about their day. The humor flows effortlessly with flawless timing.

And that's the best thing about Yotsuba&! and Kiyohiko Azuma's storytelling -- it never feels forced or fake. Azuma makes it look easy to draw and write such keenly observed moments. But make no mistake, this is done by a manga-ka who knows what he's doing, and he does it really well.

While it is labeled for "All Ages," Yotsuba&! never reads like a "kids" manga. Its witty stories will delight readers from age 8 to 80.

My only reservation about Yotsuba&! is that some of its humor and observations are very Japanese. For example, the references to cicadas and the pun about "tsuku tsuku boshi" might leave some English language readers scratching their heads. But don't let that stop you from picking up Yotsuba&!. It's one of my new all-time favorites and a series that I'd recommend to any reader, even manga newcomers.

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