I’ll tell you straight up: Yotsuba&! is one of the best, funniest and most adorable mangas out there.
If you haven’t been following the series, here’s a recap: Yotsuba, the titular character of the manga, is a young, greenhaired girl with more enthusiasm and energy than common sense. The stories chronicle her daily (mis)adventures with her dad and her neighbours, whether it’s at home or around town.
Yotsuba&! is a light-hearted slice-of-life comedy, but what makes the series so charming and a joy to read is the way Yotsuba approaches every day events with the wideeyed wonder of a little child. You know, right before the imp gets herself into some sort of trouble or other.
Yotsuba&! Vol.8 continues the fine tradition of Yotsuba’s “fun every day adventures” in seven new chapters/stories, with the first following Yotsuba’s big day out at the farm from the previous volume. (For those keeping score, that’s the one when she accidentally assaulted farm animals by bodily launching herself at them.)
In this volume, we also see Yotsuba confusing absolutely everyone by randomly declaring it’s “Opposite Day”; a visit to Fuuka’s school festival (where Yotsuba was promised delicious cake); a shopping trip delayed by acorns/chestnuts; and Yotsuba (more or less) taking care of the house with Jumbo and her archenemy, Yanda.
Although each story is enjoyable in its own right, the one that stands out the most in this volume is Yotsuba’s participation in the town festival. This particularly long chapter really showcases Kiyohiko Azuma’s artistic abilities; the town, the shrines and the costumes are all illustrated in such genuine detail – well, as genuine as a guy who doesn’t live in Japan can determine, anyway – that you could almost, almost mistake it for an authentic “Visit Japan!” travel brochure.
As usual, the artist’s more realistic illustra- tions of objects stand in contrast to the more simply drawn characters, who nonetheless manage to capture an amazing range of human expressions. Nowhere is this more evident than in Yotsuba & The Typhoon, which stands as my current favourite chapter simply because the best segments of the story are entirely without dialogue and the hilarious “punchline” is delivered purely by facial and body expressions.
Volume 8 – and indeed, each chapter within it – can be enjoyed on its own, but honestly the best way to enjoy Yotsuba&! is to have a complete collection from the first volume.
So, if you have never seen the world and its every day wonders through the eyes of an innocently mischievous green-haired kid, then it’s about time that you spent a day with Yotsuba. — Rating: 4.5