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Yotsuba&! vol. 3 by Kiyohiko Azuma (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

December 12, 2005 by  



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“Yotsuba&!” is one of the favorite manga series that I am reading right now and because of its’ quirkiness, its humor… In vol. 3, it’s all about Yotsuba’s first experiences with fireworks, a Bon Festival and at the zoo.

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Image courtesy of © 2005 Published by A.D. Vision, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Yotsuba&! Vol. 3

STORY AND ART BY: Kiyohiko Azuma (東清彦)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Media Works Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: ADV Manga

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE:  December 2005

YOTSUBA heeeeeere! Guess what, guess what!? Yotsuba is going to a flower store with Fuuka! Yotsuba’s gonna give flowers to everybody in the whole, wide world, even the police lady with her whistle that goes – PI! PI! PIPI! PI! PIPUUUUUUUU!!

After receiving a souvenir from Asagi, Yotsuba wants to bring her friends a souvenir as well.  Meanwhile, Yotsuba experiences small and big fireworks, the Bon Festival and the zoo for the very first time.

As Jumbo’s father has too many flowers in the store, what happens when he gives Yotsuba and Fuka many of them and Yotsuba has to become the “flower cupid”.

Find out in the adventures of Yotsuba in vol. 3 of “Yotsuba&!”

What is “Yotsuba&!” all about?

When it comes to manga, I have discovered that anything created by mangaka Kiyohiko Azuma, I will more than likely purchase. For the slice-of-life manga series, “Azumanga Daioh” was a lot of fun as each character was wild, crazy, airheaded or just vibrant.

While “Azumanga Daioh”was presented as a series of vertical four-panel comic strips (yonkoma), I always hoped to read a manga series by Azuma that was chapter-based. And so, when I heard that a comedy manga series titled “Yotsuba&!” was being created and will be published by MediaWorks in Japan in 2003, I was wishing it would be released in the U.S. And thankfully, here we are with the first volume of “Yotsuba&!” courtesy of ADV Manga.

The series has received critical acclaim and is a big seller in Japan. And while “Azumanga Daioh” was made to an anime series, Azuma has said that he has no intention of wanting “Yotsuba&!” being made into an anime series.

“Yotsuba&!” is a manga series that is unusual but so much fun! It revolves around a five-year-old girl named Yotsuba Koiwai, who lives with her adoptive father Mr. Koiwai.

Both have moved to a new town and for Yotsuba, she is very naive to a lot of things she sees around in the city. We are introduced to Mr. Koiwai’s good friend (who is 6 ft., 11 inches) named Takashi “Jumbo” Takeda, who helps them with the move.

Yotsuba eventually meets her new neighbors (who find her weird), the Ayase family which consists of 20-year-old sister Asagi Ayase (a.k.a. “the pretty one”), 16-year old Fuka Ayase (a.k.a. “the one who is not pretty”), 10-year-old Ena Ayase (a.k.a. “the small one”) and their mother Mrs. Ayase (which Yotsuba had started calling her “Mommy”).

The following chapters of “Yotsuba&!” vol. 3 are summarized without spoilers:

  • Chapter 15 – Souvenirs – Yotsuba wants to give her friends souvenirs.
  • Chapter 16 – Asagi – Yotsuba’s first experience with fireworks.
  • Chapter 17 – Flowers – At Jumbo’s father’s flower shop, what happens when he gives Fuka and Yotsuba many of them.
  • Chapter 18 – The Bon Festival – Yotsuba’s first experience at the Bon Festival.
  • Chapter 19 – The Elephant – Yotsuba’s first experience at the zoo.
  • Chapter 20 – Fireworks Show? – Yotsuba’s first experience at a fireworks show but first her father tries to teach her a lesson of not getting lost at one.
  • Chapter 21 – The Fireworks Show! – Yotsuba’s first experience at a fireworks show.

I absolutely love the work of Kiyohiko Azuma and reading “Yotsuba&!”, for those who read his previous work “Azumanga Daioh” and remember the character of Osaka, from her naivety to her being an airhead, with Yotsuba, she’s a young girl, almost like a little child who is curious about their surroundings and wants to experience it. She’s full of life but because she is so unfamiliar with so many things that are normal to most people, some people look at her as very weird.

With the release of the third volume, it’s about first experiences.  Her first experience at the zoo, her first experience at a fireworks show or lighting up fireworks and her first experience at a Bon Festival.

And of course, to see her curiosity and see her light up when she does experience them is fascinating.

For example, when lighting up major fireworks, Yotsuba lights one on top of Asagi’s friends car.  What happens when she goes to the zoo and wants to feed a baby but she thinks the other animal is trying to steal and she punches it.  Suffice to say, Yotsuba’s naivety is what is quite intriguing and fun about the series.  No one is phased by it, they pretty much accept her for being herself.

But the series is a slice of life manga series with each chapter about the daily lives of the character and the things that Yotsuba discovers and is fascinated by. It’s a quirky anime series but a storyline that is so addictive and enjoyable that you can’t help but want more!

Unlike “Azumanga Daioh”, Azuma’s artwork is much more detailed. In “Azumanga Daioh”, rarely do you see backgrounds but in this case, he puts details in the vehicles, the building structures and areas where Yotsuba and others interact with.

But what he does bring over from “Azumanga Daioh” is the character facial expressions, may it normal to something so unusual and crazy, but you can’t help but laugh.

“Yotsuba&!” is one of my favorite manga series that I am reading right now and because of its’ quirkiness, its humor… it’s one of my favorite manga series that I have read in 2005 thus far!

Kiyohiko Azuma’s “Youtsuba&!” Vol. 3 is highly recommended!

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