Yotsuba&! Vol. 12 (Yen Press)

Yotsuba12

Rating: 5/5 – This is Why I Read Manga!

Do you remember what it was to be five years old and invincible? When everything was a wonder, new and innocent? When making a mistake wasn’t the end of the world, although it might have seemed that way to you at the time? Do you read comics to escape to a world that you wish were truly real? Welcome to the world of Yotsuba&!, where all these questions and more are brilliantly rendered on the page for you to savor.

First things first, go back and start at volume one. You owe it to yourself. You’ll thank me for it later, I guarantee it. It’ll be the best (roughly) $130 or so you’ve ever spent on 12 volumes (and counting) of a book.

Here’s what you’re in for: Yotsuba Kowai is five years old. She lives with her single father in a nondescript apartment on an unassuming street. Throughout the series they do everything from shop for food, learn to ride bikes, go to the park, catch bugs, paint tables, etc. Sounds pretty boring, right? Where’s the giant robots? Where are the upskirt shots of cute high school girls? When do the ninjas show up? You’ll find none of that in these pages…but you’ll still be glued to each panel, because you’ll be seeing this mundane world through the eyes of a five-year old. Creator Kiyohiko Azuma hasn’t forgotten what it was to be that young, when the world was new, and everything was wonderful, and the world hasn’t beaten you down yet with rules, mortgages, and responsibilities.

I love this book. Love it to death. It never fails to make me laugh out loud. At the same time, I read it with a profound sense of loss, because I’ve left my time as a five year old far behind me. Still, Yotsuba is there to remind me that I can’t avoid growing old, but I don’t necessarily have to grow up if I don’t want to. She’s the Dr. Seuss for a new generation, with a very simple motto that’s printed on the inside back cover of each volume – “Enjoy Everything.”  Read this book and you’ll find out what that really means.

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow – al@comicspectrum.com
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