Ah, the sweet memories of childhood - the endless days, playing in the playgrounds, climbing up telephone poles and pretending to be cicada.
No I haven't finally gone tonto, I was just typing about Yotsuba&, the newest series from the peculiar mind of Kiyohiko Azuma, creator of the surprise hit series Azumanga Daioh.
The series, which like Azumanga, was originally released in the manga magazine Dengeki Daioh in 2003, and released in the west via ADV Manga in 2005, follows the adventures of Yotsuba Kowai, a fairly average, five year old girl -if five year old girls normally have green hair and four ponytails - as she moves to a new town with her father, and the adventures she has, both by herself and with Ena, Fuka and Usagi Ayase, who, willingly or otherwise, always seem to get drawn along for the ride. Finally we meet Jumbo, who definitely lives up to his nickname - seeming to be far taller than any of the cast - not that Yotsuba seems to mind!
As to be expected of Azuma's work, the background details of Yotsuba& are highly detailed, thanks in some cases to his use of photographing and transposing the background perfectly. But it's the artistic style that Azuma has chosen that'll surprise many of his fans - gone is the four panel, newspaper strip style of Azumanga Daioh, and instead he uses the full page that is traditionally used in comics, allowing him to expand his ability to deliver his script - and believe me, this was necessary, as the series has so many nuances and subtle details, that a 4 panel strip could never be able to transmit everything to the reader.
And it's the script that is the main reason this series has won me over. In a world of cynicism and doubt it's touching, almost enlightening to see the world through the eyes of a 5 year old, to only see colour and light in a world of darkness, to see innocence and joy in a world of hate and prejudice, and it's this innocence, and her ability to see the world in this way that'll make you think, and maybe even reread the book again, to see the delights of Yotsuba's world.
Childhood never ends..
Yotusba& marks Kiyohiko Azuma's second mainstream manga release, having orirginally started out as a dojinshi [fan made comic] artist/writer, before being picked up. The series, currently reaching vol4 in Japan, is still ongoing in Dengeki Daioh, with a large following.
Despite rumor to the contrary, Kyohiko has denied any plans to animate Yotsuba& as he did with Azumanga Daioh at this time.