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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
New Smithson! 
1st-Nov-2007 09:40 am
Atagoul
Just a short page this time, as Brian's had a busy week. He's going to be a FATHER! Everyone congratulate him and his lovely wife, Meg.

www.smithsoncomic.com

Naturally, there's a new Chronicles of William Bazillion. I like how blithely Wiener and Darryl switch teams when presented with a new arrogant kid adventurer to follow. It's so hard to find good sidekicks.

Okay, Overlooked Manga Festival!



Actually, this manga isn't too overlooked. Bloggers talk about it, anyway, and if you can't trust bloggers to have their fingers on the throbbing pulse on America, who can you trust? But it's worth discussing in the OMF, and besides, I like doing things that might entertain Anne Maloney.



Yotsuba&! is a fiendishly cute manga by Kiyohiko Azuma, the one palatable moe artist. Azuma's previous comic, the four-panel gag strip Azumanga Daioh!, was the cutest thing on God's green earth until he started drawing Yotsuba&!, which immediately unseated it. I recommend Azumanga Daioh!, too. But I chose this one to highlight on the OMF, because, you know. Yotsuba.



Yotsuba is a tiny, hyperactive green-haired girl who lives with her easygoing adoptive father in a quiet Japanese neighborhood. As the manga opens, she and her dad have just moved into town from parts unknown (when asked where she comes from, Yotsuba points in a random direction or says, "Left") and are getting to know the three older girls who live next door. For the rest of the manga, they all have adventures. Little adorable adventures.

Yotsuba is wide-eyed and inquisitive like any little kid, but to a cartoonish degree; everything from swingsets to doorbells to telephone poles to fireworks freaks her out hardcore and inspires a barrage of insane questions. It's almost like she comes from another planet, and maybe she does. She also possesses bottomless enthusiasm for each and every new discovery.



And that's it. That's the comic. In each chapter, Yotsuba encounters something new (hence the title, which is reflected in the chapter titles: "Yotsuba & Cake!" "Yotsuba & the Elephant!" "Yotsuba & Global Warming!") and enjoys the hell out of it, with her dad, her dad's very tall friend Jumbo, and the neighbor girls dragged along for the ride. Sometimes the adventure gets a little too intense for Yotsuba, like when she tries to feed goats at the petting zoo. I think we've all been freaked out by this moment.



It's those weird sideways pupils! Goats are so unsettling!

But for the most part the adventures are happy ones, and Yotsuba's enthusiasm for her sunny little world and its treasures is infectious. Like recent OMF pick Aria, Yotsuba&! is ultimately about enjoying the simple pleasures in life, stopping to smell the flowers. Yotsuba seems to live in an endless lazy summer day, which Azuma draws with fondness and care.



It's also a funny manga, with a great sense of character humor and comic timing (Azuma is a master of the beat panel). And, as you can see from these pages, it's almost terrifyingly cute. The first volume is pretty cute, and each subsequent volume gets cuter and cuter as Azuma's art develops. I'm almost afraid to pick up the next volume, for fear that my teeth will rot out of my head the moment I open the covers.



There's something almost un-manga-like about Yotsuba&!, something that transcends cultural trappings and approaches the universality of a good comic strip. Maybe it's the characters (where else in manga do you see a laid-back single dad who hangs around the house in his boxers?); maybe it's Azuma's simple but intensely charming artwork. Whatever it is, Yotsuba&! could be a good manga for people who don't usually like manga, as well as manga fans who need an extra cute buzz. Just try not to think too hard about the fact that, in Japan, it runs in a magazine for twentysomething men. Just don't.



Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Basara
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Dr. Slump
Your and My Secret
Phoenix
Kekkaishi
Wild Act
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Monster
Swan
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
Banana Fish
Skip Beat
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Cyborg 009
Anywhere But Here
To Terra
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
Doing Time
The Walking Man
Sugar Sugar Rune
Parasyte
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators
Mariko Parade
Golgo 13
Ricca 'tte Kanji!?
Pure Trance
OMF Special Event: My Legacy
OMF Special Event: An All-Star Tribute to Carl Gustav Horn
Guest OMF by Jason Thompson: 888
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Tekkon Kinkreet
Yakitate! Japan
Flower of Life
Domu
OMF Special Event: Top Ten Lines from the Excel Saga manga
Nana
What's Michael?
OMF Special Event: Jason Thompson Presents the Top Ten Best Worst Manga, Part One
OMF Special Event: Jason Thompson Presents the Top Ten Best Worst Manga, Part Two
Aria
Comics Underground Japan

Comments 
1st-Nov-2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
The real question is, which TMBG song?

I'm going to vote for "James K. Polk." Or maybe "Robot Parade."
1st-Nov-2007 06:25 pm (UTC)
YOTSUBA!! This series is such pure sugar. Pure, glorious, sugar. Which reminds me, I need to pick up the latest volume...
17th-Oct-2008 04:47 am (UTC)
So every year when I go back, I have HEAPS to pick up. . . Which costs me a fair bit as well. :( And I have to spend a lot of time reading just to catch up on all the comics I've missed reading over the year.
1st-Nov-2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
Ooo ooo oooo Yotsuba& is soooo awesome! I read a volume once and it totally pulled me out of the most horrid bad mood. It's like an intravenous rush of cute & funny...

Volume 5 soon! Oooooooo.....
1st-Nov-2007 06:48 pm (UTC)
Finding out someone's opinion on TMBG is probably one of the best tests for date-ability. If they can't sing along to "Whistling in the dark" whats the fookin' point?
1st-Nov-2007 07:06 pm (UTC)

You would think, but the worst human being I ever knew was a huge TMBG fan. College is harsh sometimes.
9th-Oct-2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
I rank Bonds as the third worst human being to ever live, behind Osama and Hitler and just in front of Rosie O'Donnell.
1st-Nov-2007 06:51 pm (UTC)
Also you and Chris Sims have sold me...

*adds Yotsuba& to list of things to buy*
1st-Nov-2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
"Ahh, shut up, a man can wear pants if he wants to."

I LOVE YOTSUBA&! I am currently in the process of converting everyone in my office. The cute is irresistable.

A bit of trivia-- a 'yotsuba' is a four-leaf clover. Which looks kind of like Yotsuba's head.

Enjoy Everything!
13th-Nov-2010 04:32 pm (UTC) - Lol
Anonymous
So true Youtsuba rocks :P
1st-Nov-2007 08:33 pm (UTC)
I love Yotsuba&! SO MUCH. Like Anne said, it is like a beam of light. IN MY HEART.

Incidently, my three year old is very like Yotsuba. The whole "Woah... chef...," or that "gets a good talking to" scene. So many scenes, really. Which just makes it awesomer.
1st-Nov-2007 09:04 pm (UTC)
Congratulations to Brian and Meg!
4th-Nov-2007 01:44 am (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
5th-Nov-2007 04:08 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
Revoltech Yotsuba was solicited in last month's Previews. Hopefully Danbo will be offered soon (wasn't in this month's Previews).
2nd-Nov-2007 02:05 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you got a page from the one where she goes on a squirt gun rampage. That's totally my favorite.

Yotsuba&! also has a special place in my heart as the only comic I ever read in Japanese.
2nd-Nov-2007 05:13 am (UTC)
I love Yotsuba& every single day thanks to my Yotsuba& page-a-day calendar. ^^

"Yeah! Fuka's right! Curry's strong!"
2nd-Nov-2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
I love this book.
3rd-Nov-2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
Kind of off-topic, but there are a few pictures of me in mad scientist get-up with a Narbonic gerbil featured prominently in several pictures in the most recent entry in my journal. Thought you'd like to know.
3rd-Nov-2007 09:01 pm (UTC)

Oh, that's rad!
5th-Nov-2007 06:16 am (UTC)
Thanks. The gerbil's been officially named "Wilhelm", after Wilhelm Reich.
4th-Nov-2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
Wow this manga rocks my socks. Any chance of some of the great overlooked horror manga an OMF? I love your articles!
5th-Nov-2007 03:53 am (UTC)

I did Drifting Classroom a while ago. There are a couple of other horror manga I'd like to do if I can get copies.
5th-Nov-2007 06:04 am (UTC)
I know. I loved your commentary on Drifting Classroom. IN ALL CAPS!!!!! Which pretty much covers it. Your OMF archives make a bitchin' reading list by the way.
5th-Nov-2007 05:28 am (UTC)
Congratulations, Brian and Meg!
6th-Nov-2007 08:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
9th-Nov-2007 08:59 pm (UTC)
That last note about Yotsuba being in a magazine for twenty-something men doesn't surprise or disturb me (though I hadn't known it before, and am grateful for the info). I discovered the series through twenty-something men, 18+ anyway, who for some reason appear to make up it's most devoted fanbase even outside of Japan. I've at times wondered if the style of humour is just better understood by an older audience.


To make this comment more worth-while: of the very few manga reviews of yours I've read they have been very enjoyable and a good resource for images to show others who I can't wave books in the face of. :3 Thanks for posting these!
11th-Nov-2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
The weird thing about YOTSUBA&! is, at first it appears that Yotsuba is living with her dad. But then, no. Unless I'm mistaken or haven't read far enough (because they are rather vague about it), the dude is just Yotsuba's unofficial stepdad, and Yotsuba is just some girl he picked up and adopted. Which seems like it might be a semi-decent premise for a heartwarming American family movie ("twentysomething slacker ends up having to take care of adorable baby girl!"), but with stuff like STRAWBERRY MARSHMALLOW and other semi-semi-lolicon moe titles out there muddying the water, it makes me a little nervous. But to its credit YOTSUBA&! never goes there.
11th-Jul-2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
I've always just assumed that it was a clever plot by the Japanese government to try and fix their declining birthrate. "Look men! Children are awesome! Have some!"
18th-Nov-2007 04:56 am (UTC)
I just bought the first vol in Japanese today and devoured it immediately. It's hilarious! One of the funniest things, which doesn't translate at all, is that she talks like a man.
4th-May-2008 05:43 am (UTC)
Just have to say YES for Yotsuba!
I laugh every single time I read it, which is really something I think. Making something funny is harder than making something serious.

And my fave scene recently was the 'stranger danger' where she ramms Yanda into the door. Everyone at work thought I was crazy, I was laughing so much...
16th-Sep-2010 10:58 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
The idea of a good comic for kids running in a magazine for adult men makes me sense when I think about what is running on anthologies like Corocoro: merchandising-oriented stuff like Beyblade, Inazuma Eleven, etc. I see Yotsuba &! like the kind of stuff bought by parents for their kids.

Alexandre (http://www.interney.net/blogs/maximumcosmo/)
24th-Jan-2011 03:27 am (UTC) - What age do you think mature?
Anonymous
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