Mangaka: Kiyohiko Azuma
Hey, hey! Yotsuba and Daddy have just moved into town. Yotsuba’s sooooo excited! There are so many things to learn about and places to explore. Lots of people to meet, too. Like Jumbo–he’s sooooo big! And the new neighbors are really nice; their Mom even gives Yotsuba ice cream. Yanda needs to stay away, though; he makes Yotsuba soooo mad! Anyway, Yotsuba and Daddy are going to have lots of fun in their new home!
If the above summary seems excessively hyper and silly, well, let’s just say that it fits the story perfectly. Yotsuba&! is an adorable seinen manga focusing on the daily life of five-year-old Yotsuba, a little girl with more energy and emotion than most folks can handle. The story is super cute and super funny–it literally makes me laugh out loud almost the entire time I’m reading it. I think one of the things I love most about Yotsuba&! is that it gives a realistic, unbeautified picture of normal middle-class life in Japan; it’s probably the most honest slice-of-life manga I’ve ever read. The art lends itself to the mission of bringing a piece of daily life quite excellently through highly-detailed, beautiful yet mundane scenery and stylized yet expressive characters. Another great thing about this manga is that, while it’s technically seinen (young adult male demographic), in actuality it’s totally appropriate for any and all demographics–you could give it to a little kid or your grandma with no problems at all. Yotsuba&! is captivating, sweet, funny, innocent, and adorable–probably the best seinen manga I’ve read to date–and I would highly recommend it to anyone, period.
Note: As of the time I’m writing this, Yotsuba&! is still an ongoing series with 12 volumes currently available in English. Normally I would shy away from writing about a story until it’s finished, but: 1) I can’t wait; I love this story and have to share! 2) I think this story is episodic enough that it doesn’t make a difference. It’s just as enjoyable even without the “ending” since there isn’t really any strong overarching plot.