Yotsuba&! Volume One is a manga by Kiyohiko Azuma, and it was published in North America by Yen Press in 2009. The series is rated “A,” which means that it’s appropriate for readers of all ages.
The main character of the series is a young girl named Yotsuba; from what I’ve seen in the manga so far, it appears that she’s too young to go to school, which leads me to believe that she’s around four or five years old. She’s a very energetic and quirky little girl, who moves into a new house with her father.
They move in next door to a family with three girls: Asagi, Fuuka, and Ena. Fuuka is a high school student, and Ena also goes to school. From what I can gather, Asagi is no longer a student. Yotsuba and her father become friends with the girls and their mother. We also meet Jumbo, a friend of Yotsuba’s father who is very tall.
Yotsuba&! is definitely done as a comedy, and the comedy revolves around what is going on in the characters’ lives at any given moment. In this volume, the comedy is usually derived from Yotsuba having a misunderstanding or from Yotsuba directly saying what’s on her mind. Occasionally, the humor comes from other characters in the series, but much of it is a result of Yotsuba’s actions in the stories.
The art in Yotsuba&! has a very “cute” and simplistic look to it. This art style makes sense, since the main character of the series is so young; the art style helps to make this manga more accessible to younger readers. In addition to the cute and simplistic feel, Azuma also uses quite a bit of exaggeration in the art, especially when drawing panels with Yotsuba. Some of the other younger characters also get some exaggeration, but most of that is reserved for Yotsuba.
As a parent, I thought that I would enjoy Yotsuba&!, especially since I enjoy reading the Baby Blues comic strip so much. Unfortunately, by the time I finished reading this volume, I thought that Yotsuba was more annoying than cute.
Yotsuba&! isn’t necessarily a bad series, but it’s not one that I’m personally going to be rushing out and reading more of right away. Younger readers may find more enjoyment in Yotsuba&!; they might think Yotsuba is cute and find themselves laughing at the situations and hijinks that happen to her.
If you enjoy reading manga about children, and have a tolerance for hyperactive and quirky kids, then you might enjoy reading Yotsuba&!