Yotsuba&!, vol. 6
Story and Art by Kiyohiko Azuma
Translated by Amy Forsyth
Yen Press, 2009
Original Japanese edition: Media Works Inc, 2006
Paperback $10.99 US
In Volume 6 of Yotsuba&! we continue to follow our heroine as she learns about and explores her everyday world. This time she’s unraveling the mysteries of recycling, bicycles, sticky notes, and work. This is very much more of the same to anyone who has read the earlier volumes in this series; lucky for us, the same old refrain in Yotsuba&! happens to be a very good one. Few manga series have given me so much joy, and I am happy to report that volume 6 is no exception. It made me laugh and laugh.
Though Yotsuba&! is a slice-of-life series with no overarching plot, the chapters do flow neatly into each other, and new jokes often build upon old ones. You don’t need to know who Danbo (previously known as Cardbo) is when you read the chapter “Yotsuba & Recycling,” but if you do, the passing reference is quite funny. Along the same lines, the chapter where Yotsuba gets her beloved bicycle is excellent on its own, but that isn’t the last chapter where we see Yotsuba on her new wheels. Her bicycle plays a key part in her later adventures.
Azuma’s art isn’t flashy, but it’s definitely one of my favorite things about the series. Nothing is ever wasted in his drawings: every panel on every page adds to the story. I especially love the panels with no dialogue where we just see Yotsuba exploring her world with her usual enthusiasm. And one day someone should put together a picture post of the many faces of Yotsuba, because she just has so many amusing expressions. (I’d do it if I had a scanner!)
As everyone in the manga ‘verse probably already knows, this is the first new-to-U.S. audiences volume of Yotsuba&! published by Yen Press since they rescued the series from ADV licensing limbo. It comes with a translation from Amy Forsyth that’s occasionally quite different in tone from the ADV translations. In particular, some reviewers have not liked Yotsuba’s tendency to refer to herself in the third person (a carryover from the original Japanese). I suspect it would have bothered me more if Yotsuba was an older character, but here I actually didn’t even notice it while reading. That translation choice was effectively invisible to me.
I’m looking forward to the release of volume 7 in December. And if you haven’t started this series yet, the release of the Yen Press editions is a great excuse to try it now. It comes highly recommended.