For slice of life manga with a sprinkle of charm, one would be hard-pressed to find a title better than Yotsuba&!. The story of an eccentric child running her father ragged with her adolescent charm has proven to be infectious with readers in both Japan and the States. Though not exactly story centric, the overabundance of quirky fun is more than enough to keep reader’s coming back for more.
Volume 9 continues Yotsuba’s jaunt through childhood with the addition of a new friend, albeit a stuffed one. When Koiwai purchases a new teddy bear for the little girl, he comes to find it has become something of a friend to her, accompanying her everywhere. Later on, Yotsuba takes a ride in a hot air balloon and actually drops the bear only for it to miraculously land on its feet.
There are some other little adventures peppered in this volume, such as Yotsuba learning what a coffee maker, as well as trying to teach herself how to make a schedule. It may not sound especially enthralling but the manner in which it is handled captures the childlike wonder of discovering something new for the first time, returning readers to their own childhoods.
The manga’s biggest strength comes in its charm and this volume shows no restraint in dolling it out. Yotsuba’s wide-eyed exuberance provides the perfect foil to Koiwai’s lackadaisical personality, shouting and pointing with enthusiasm at something that would otherwise be considered common to react, getting a rise out of her adopted papa.
As much as I would like to say Yotsuba&! is a book for everyone, its only weakness is that it may be too cute for some. Yes, it’s content is childish, but one can’t argue the sense of fun that comes from the experience that comes with reading the volume. This isn’t a series for fans of dark and gritty narrative. Yotsuba&! is a title one reads when they need something to brighten up their day.