Yotsuba&! Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, March 31, 2005
Release Date: Monday, June 06, 2005
Translated by:Javier Lopez
What They Say
School's out for summer, and Yotsuba's out of her mind! She's new in town - she could very well be new to the planet Earth - and with no knowledge of the world around her along with an unnatural fear of air conditioners, this green-haired gal has her neighborhood spinning out of control!
As my review copy is an uncorrected galley proof, I am unable to comment on the packaging or art reproduction.
Fan's of Kiyohiko Azuma's previous work, Azumanga Daioh, will feel right at home with Yotsuba&! The biggest difference between the two is that he's abandoned the 4-panel gag strip formula for full-length chapters. It allows him to expand on his artwork a bit more, giving him more room to tell his stories. Azuma has a beautifully clean style with crisp linework and wonderfully expressive faces on his characters. Like Yotsuba herself, Azuma's art is deceptively simple, straight-forward and right to the point. Compositionally, most pages use a variation of three rows of panels per page. Backgrounds are usually sparse, though he's not afraid to splurge on the detail from time to time.
I believe it shows the importance of this title to ADV that Javier Lopez himself is both translating and editing this title. He does a great job with it, too. The adaptation fully conveys Yotsuba's enthusiasm for life. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and that comes through beautifully. Also coming through intact is Azuma's quirky yet hilarious comedic timing. The chapter where the next door neighbors get to meet Jumbo, Yotsuba's gigantic friend, for the first time, had me laughing out loud repeatedly. In the original Japanese, Yotsuba speaks rather loudly and in simple language. Her dialogue contains virtually no kanji to show the simple way she speaks and acts. That simple charm is retained in the English adaptation, simplifying her speech and using a slightly larger font for her dialogue where appropriate. A page of translator's notes is in the back, explaining a few of the finer points in the story. All sound effects are translated right on the page. Unlike some previous ADV titles that had English sfx blended into the art, this title uses a simple translation in small comic book font right next to the Japanese sfx. It's far less intrusive and works wonderfully.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Yotsuba and her father, Koiwai, have just moved into town. Everything, and I mean everything, is an adventure to Yotsuba. Her first big adventure, after helping her father and Jumbo, he father's enormously tall friend, move everything into the house, is trying to figure out what the swing in the local playground is. Helpful strangers who turn out to be her new neighbors offer plenty of opportunities for misunderstandings, both good and bad. Her new neighbors are three sisters: Fuka is a high school girl with a polite personality and short hair. Asagi is her older sister, a beautiful young woman with blonde hair and the personality of a born trouble maker. Ena is the younger sister who is in middle school. Life Fuka, she's polite and friendly, and also rather studious. They live with their mother and Yotsuba wastes no time in becoming friends with them. Despite his enormous size, Jumbo is rather awkward around so many attractive women. Yotsuba's father is an incredibly patient man who works from home, giving him plenty of time to spend with his daughter. After meeting the neighbors, Yotsuba learns all about the good and bad of air conditioners, how much fun shopping at a big department store can be, hunting cicadas and playing in the rain.
At first glance, Yotsuba may look like Chiyo-chan from Azumanga Daioh with two extra pigtails, but their personalities are completely different. Yotsuba is like a blank slate of joyous fun, learning about everything and loving every minute of it. Her neighbors are great fun, giving her something to bounce off of. Watching Yotsuba treat the department store like a playground had me laughing out loud, even as I felt a little sorry for her harried father. Yotsuba&! manages the clever balancing act of being both manic and gentle fun at the same time. ADV's treatment of this title is right on the mark, with nothing added or subtracted, just the way it should be. In an oversaturated manga market flooded with substandard titles, Yotsuba&! stands out as something special.
Mania Grade: A+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
Orientation: Right to Left