Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Manga Review: Yotsuba&! (volume one)

I remember coming across this book years ago at the school book fair and feeling conflicted because on the one hand it was manga and I was a manga fan so I should like it. On the other hand, it just wasn't that interesting and out of shame I decided to try and just forget about it and did until I heard it got relicensed by Yen Press. And when I picked it up from my library I saw it was by the same manga-ka as Azumanga Daioh and I got all worried again since I didn't like that anime as much. But, since I have a hunch I'll like AD more in it's manga form than anime I decided to give Yotsuba&! an honest chance.

Yotsuba&! Kiyojiko Azuma
Summary: Yotsuba is a young girl who has just moved to a new town and, even taking that into consideration, she doesn't seem to know much about how the world works. So those around her (three sisters, her adoptive father and a few other people) attempt to show her the world with hilarious misunderstandings.

The Good: It was a relaxing read and made me want to have a nice day outside again to lounge around while reading it (it just got cold where I am so I imagine that had something to do with it). It was quirky and cute at times and got at least one giggle out of me each chapter which is a good thing for a comedy manga. I also liked a lot of the side characters and it looks like they'll be pretty well fleshed out over the rest of the story.

The Bad: I feel like this is the kind of manga I should read one chapter a week of or I'll get too annoyed at it. I do like slice of life, don't get me wrong there, but most of them do eventually tie into a central plot or character development. Yotsuba&! is just ordinary (well, a strange ordinary), random life which isn't necessarily bad but it's a love it or hate it thing. I found her to be an exceptionally dumb character (even for a five year old) and she grated on my nerves more than anything else. Again, I'm sure some people had the exact opposite view of her but I did honestly find her annoying.

The Art: Unlike AD this is drawn in the normal, full page and chapter style (AD was a series of 4 panel comics) and it's clear that they share a manga-ka. None of the characters look like carbon copies of each other but since Azuma uses a rather simplistic style for drawing characters (although the backgrounds looked rather detailed in some areas) they don't look that different either, using the old trick of hairstyles to keep them separate.

So, it's not quite the series for me, but I wouldn't pass up a chance to read some of the other volumes. However, since the story is already nine volumes long and doesn't show any signs of stopping (one common fan theory is that the manga will cover about a year and it sounds like they're either about half way or not even half way through a year) so this one isn't going on my (already amazingly long) to buy list.