Sunday, January 9, 2011

REVIEW: Yotsuba Volume 1

Yotsuba &!
by Kiyohiko Azuma

Yotsuba is moving to a new house... this means new neighbors, new experiences, new everything!
She lives alone with her father, who is often called Koi for short. She quickly meets the adorable girls who live next door and her adventures truly being.

Character Likability:
Yotsuba: This kid is adorable. She's really quite weird, totally clueless, and yet, cute as heck. I found myself laughing several times while reading this first volume, because she IS so childlike and adorable. The author has really captured the wonder and awe that children experience when discovering new things... and the gullibility and ability of adults to amuse themselves by misleading children. At the same time, I would blame the neighbors if they found Yotsuba totally annoying... but they seem to be good natured... although inexplicably tolerant of how negligent Yotsuba's father is... perhaps this is something more to do with Japanese culture?
Yotsuba's Father: He seems a bit lazy, and doesn't really have any idea how to care for a small child... but everything seems to work out fine in the end... because this doesn't seem like the kind of story where bad things exist in the world to hurt Yotsuba.
Jumbo (Takashi Takeda): A friend of the family, Jumbo keeps showing up to help them move in, or to do other random things. He's a wee bit girl obsessed though, and falls for Ayase's older sister, Asagi.
Ayase: Yotsuba's neighbor and the middle daughter. She is in High School, incredibly polite and helpful, and often left to take care of Yotsuba in some way or another.
Asagi: Ayase's older sister, in College and very pretty. She's a bit more twisted and prone to teasing Yotsuba without Yotsuba understanding that she's being teased. However, you can tell she has a true affection for the girl and is overall very kind to Yotsuba.
Ena: Ayase's youngest sister, she often plays with Yotsuba and is very kind and tolerant as well.

Quality of Writing:
The writing really works wonders on making Yotsuba both really likable and really childlike. These are quick, entertaining reads... and I want more of them!

This is the first in a series of I am not sure how many... and due to the nature of the way these are written, there isn't really an 'end' or a 'cliffhanger' or anything. Each chapter is Yotsuba discovering a new thing... such as, the first is Yotsuba & Moving!, the next is Yotsuba & Greetings! This continues through the entire book, each chapter not directly connected to the chapter before it. I think this helps to make it more childlike and cute... since Yotsuba has a fairly short attention span herself... it would be hard to follow a continuous story of her... since she probably doesn't actually do to much during a day if she's not discovering something exciting and new.

It's a simple plot revolving around each chapter having us follow Yotsuba discovering something new. Her story is progressed just in so far as she is slowly learning about the world around her... where the characters around her have some story progression, but it is not as important as Yotsuba having fun. 
Truthfully, I picked this series up because I saw so many people on the internet raving about it, and wanted to know what the deal was. What I didn't realize, until after I'd finished this first volume, was that it is by the creator of Azumanga Daioh... which I saw as an anime and, at first, hated. Nothing happened, it was just a bunch of girls running around being dumb... but as I watched the series more, their antics grew on me, until it was possibly my favorite anime of the season (when I went to our college anime club). These characters have an endearing, honest quality, and are genuinely funny.
However, if you're looking for an intensely deep plot with layers and layers of meaning... this isn't for you. It truly is VERY light-hearted.

Illustration Quality:
I LOVE the illustrations in this book. The characters are adorable, and the artist really has expressions down well... Niko goes through such a constantly changing array of facial expressions that it is endlessly entertaining. Proportions are well done, line quality is lovely, and detail is amazing.

Believability of World:
Very believable, and truly enjoyable in a fun, simple kind of way.

Overall Grade:


  1. I absolutely adored this series but I haven't been able to find the other books at my bookstore :( Great post though, I totally agree with you - this book was just adorable to the extreme <3

  2. Agreed! Do you know how many there are all together? I've seen through 8 in my bookstore.

  3. I just got into the series recently and I think it's very awesome! Yotsuba's curiosity at everything makes me laugh.

    I wrote about some hidden meanings behind Yotsuba&! You can read it at:

    Currently, there are 9 books out in America. Volume 10 is out in Japan right now.