Yotsuba to (Yotsuba&!)
is centered on Yotsuba Koiwai, a five-year-old girl who is energetic, cheerful, curious, odd, and quirky.
The main character of the series is Yotsuba – a prominent five-year-old girl with four clusters of green hair like a four-leaf clover. The story consists of 13 volumes and 100 chapters; each revolves around a girl and something. In each episode, Yotsuba shows a particular interest and draws everyone into the game with him.
Yotsuba always exudes a positive energy that can make anyone looking at her radiant and happy. The people who participated in the game with this hyperactive girl were all older than her.
First, Yousuke Koiwai – Yotsuba’s adoptive father, a freelance translator, and two friends – Big Jumbo, who works at a flower shop, Yanda, the white-haired Bev, but sometimes acts like an immature child, very playful with Yotsuba.
We have neighbors and three sisters. Ena – the youngest, outside the cake but inside, is highly adventurous and interested in environmental protection. Fuuka – the middle sister who likes wearing weird t-shirts and always thinks about becoming more beautiful by losing weight.
Asagi – the eldest sister – is lovely and personable, always responding to Yotsuba’s games, becoming Jumbo’s crush, and often feeding him fruit at the last minute.
There is also the mother of the three sisters, called “Mom” by Yotsuba, and the three sisters’ close friends. The strange thing is that even when they are becoming adults or have grown up, they all know how to play tricks and play hard with Yotsuba.
However, although I was pretty interested and felt nostalgic for each of Yotsuba’s games when I read Yotsuba&!, I could not help but be surprised and somewhat disappointed. It’s different from the Fujiko F Fujio manga my dad bought for me in elementary school – Doraemon.
No treasures, no transformations, no supernatural powers. There are no fiery fights or emotional flare-ups. Not even the details are enough to make you laugh; if you do, you will only laugh at some of the innocence of the girl and the adults. Before I knew about Yotsuba, I didn’t even care about Dunbo – the carton robot in the series.
“Today is always the most enjoyable day.”
That is the line that is always written on the cover of each Yotsuba manga chapter. In a 2014 interview, Azuma said he didn’t know what he was thinking at the beginning of the series. Still, Kiyohiko Azuma (あずまきよひこ) just felt like he was looking for something naturally funny, and he created the child character. That is what he thought of. That’s why everything in Yotsuba is simply genuine.
Her day is simply staying home, passing by the neighbor’s house, going out on the street to see something new and exciting, and messing around with them. And it’s the reader’s job just to imagine themselves in that story, to enjoy every level of her emotions as she explores the world around her.
I like how Azuma sketches Yotsuba’s expression, having to melt every time before all her feelings. Every time she meets someone, her eyes are bright, and her mouth is full of smiles. Yotsuba’s laugh is also extraordinary, not “haha” like in other stories, but “Ahahahahaha” every time he laughs like that, his eyes are small. Crying, eyes round and tearful, mouth pursed, shoulders shaking. When he’s serious, he frowns and acts like an adult.
If put on film, these expressions will be complicated when the filmmaker has to bring out the soul of Yotsuba to. The voice actor must express her gestures at a moderate level but not too much. And with a simple plot like this, everything is best only in pictures because on film, it loses the “static but dynamic” character of this series.
The way Azuma sketches Yotsuba gives the reader the feeling that this little girl Yotsuba appears right before him, inviting the reader to join the game. Not when we were kids; we had times when we jumped for joy, cried when someone teased us that our parents didn’t love us, got scared when we got lost and shouted our name, or even sent someone away.
Another game of chase? Or enjoy hugging and fiddling with toys before choosing them? Remember how excited you were when an adult agreed to let you go out and how disappointed you were when you were sent home because of illness? These emotions and enjoyment make us learn to give our best today. But where did they go when they grew up?
Enjoy everyday with Yotsuba to – live with fun