Funny girl

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE - By SHAUn A. nO­ORdIn

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

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