Friday, January 1, 2010

Yotsuba&!, vol. 2

Happy New Year! With the new year comes a renewed commitment to posting blog reviews everyday. For the past few months, I had a hard time keeping up, what with work and graduate school commitments. Nonetheless, the past is behind me, so look forward to daily posts reviewing the latest manga, manhwa or graphic novel I'm reading. Hopefully, I can keep up with my self-imposed schedule through 2010!

In acknowledgment of my last post of 2009, I think it's only fitting that I continue my reviews of Yotsuba&!. As mentioned in my first review of this series, I'm reading through the ADV-published version of this series and not the newer re-release by Yen Press.

The story: Little Yotsuba loves drawing, but she's disappointed when her latest masterpiece gets some pointed criticism from a new friend. Later, she goes on an hilarious and imaginary rampage in search of revenge. In other tales, Yotsuba alternately learns the joys of cake, the "daddy dance," swimming pools and frog catching. There's also a glimpse of the neighbors' life when Yotsuba isn't around.

Reaction: This is such a fun manga to read! I always find myself laughing at something ridiculous Yotsuba has done -- I was in stitches during her search for revenge and couldn't help but giggle at her magic marker moments, especially since it reminded me of a time when my younger sister and I did something similar to our own dad. There's also a great new character in Miura, a tomboy of sorts who doesn't initially "get" Yotsuba's many quirks.

Deep thoughts: One chapter, titled "Revenge," shows Yotsuba watching a violent TV show with her dad and Jumbo. Immediately afterwards, she grabs her squirt gun and starts exacting revenge on the neighbors' house. This is a nice portrayal of media effects, or the theory that what we see in media influences how we act. Here, Yotsuba sees a violent act and then mirrors it. While it's obvious Yotsuba is pretending, it's a pretty clear cut cause-and-effect example of the theory in action.

Artwork: There's a lot of playful emotion here and some great facial expressions. Yotsuba's eyes can communicate a lot, something that other mangaka would do well to learn from. Otherwise, this is situational comedy at its best and Kiyohiko Azuma does a great job at showing the physical comedy at play and characters' reactions to whatever goofy thing Yotsuba is up to.

The verdict: Required reading. This is such a fun series -- I can't imagine someone not liking it. If you're looking for all-around simple laughs at the hand of a kooky grade schooler, Yotsuba's your girl! Yotsuba&! is available in the U.S. from Yen Press.

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