I’ve been negligent about participating in the Manga Moveable Feast, but I’ve finally found the time to write an article for it. This month focuses on suitable comics for children, and the title chosen was Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma. You can read more about this month’s feast here.
Yotsuba&!, pronounced Yotsubato (よつばと, or “Four Leaves and… !”) in Japanese to include the ampersand, is a comedy-driven comic written by Kiyohiko Azuma. It was published beginning in March 2003 and still runs in Dengeki Daioh magazine.
Yotsuba&! was made available to English-speaking audiences by ADV Manga; however, Yen Press took over the license and republished the volumes in 2009. You can buy it through the 3rd-party sellers on Amazon for pretty cheap. In fact, you should buy it.
Yotsuba&! is a comic about a young girl named Yotsuba who moves to a new neighborhood with her father. The comic follows the eccentric, everyday trivialities of Yotsuba as she interacts with her father, neighbors, and town.
It’s a fairly simple story that requires barely any explanation. It’s a comic about a girl who does stuff, akin to how Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway basically boils down to a story about a lady as she goes around her daily routines. As strange as that sounds, Yotsuba&! is a comic about dealing with the hilarious things that occur in daily life (even if some of those things might be caused by a weird, little girl). With chapters titled “Yotsuba and Drawing,” “Yotsuba and the Culture Festival,” and “Yotsuba and Typhoons,” it’s really just a comic about everything and a girl. Basically, what the title says: Yotsuba & !.
There are three things that I wish this essay to achieve:
1) Explore where Yotsuba&! is situated in the Japanese comics industry and the minds of its (adult?) readers.
2) Look at how Kiyohiko Azuma has developed as an artist and how that is illustrated in Yotsuba&!.
3) Explain why Yotsuba&! (in relation to Azuma’s other works) says a lot about writing comic comics.