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YOTSUBA&! Volume 1

  • Title: YOTSUBA&! Volume 1
  • Author: Azuma Kiyohiko
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: ADV Manga (June 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1413903177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1413903171

I finished Volume 2 Friday night, and finished Volume 1 last night.

This series is keeping my attention well.  Its neat that this is within the manga genre but isn’t about fighting but instead a continuing story about a little girl growing up in Japan.

I suggest you start reading with the first volume; there’s some setup that’s useful, but not essential.  We learn at the very beginning that Yotsuba and her dad are just moving into a new house in a new neighborhood.  One recurring theme of the book is politeness – Yotsuba is constantly struggling with being polite enought, which appears to be very important in Japanese society.  Near the end of Volume 1, we find out that Yotsuba is an orphan and that her dad found her during a foreign trip, started helping her out, and brought her back with him.  I now assume she’s from Okinawa, but we’ll see;  I believe this because she’s portrayed as very naive, and I think that’s a racial view of many Japanese towards the Okinawans (something I’ve read – haven’t asked anyone directly, not sure that would be polite).

The translator’s notes at the end of the volume were useful – for example, Yotsuba’s real name is Yotsubato, and the to at the end of the name means with or and, which explains the official spelling of Yotsuba&!.  The explanation mark is used as a connective device, indicating the chapter names in the book.

The funniest story is probably the cicadas, where Yotsuba ends up releasing a bunch into her neighbor’s home, but I also really liked how she met her neighbors and the story on air conditioning and global warming.

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