Yotsuba&! 2

by Kiyohiko Azuma

Cover image

Series: Yotsuba&! #2
Translator: Stephen Paul
Letterer: Terri Delgado
Publisher: Yen
Copyright: 2004, 2009
Printing: September 2009
ISBN: 0-316-07389-X
Format: Graphic novel
Pages: 192

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This is the second volume of Yotsuba&! (よつばと!), comprising the second set of seven stories. Each story stands almost entirely alone, so the only drawback of reading out of order is that one misses the introduction of Yotsuba and some background of who the characters are.

This is basically more of the same, although there are a few minor changes in tone and cast. Azuma introduces Miura, a friend of the youngest girl who lives next door to Yotsuba. Miura, unlike almost everyone else, doesn't always humor Yotsuba; one of the stories revolves around Yotsuba's reaction to being told by Miura that she doesn't draw very well. There's also, unusually, one story featuring only the next-door family, with Yotsuba appearing briefly at the end. Romantic bumbling appears in the form of Jumbo's attempted courtship of Asagi, but I find it less annoying than I usually find that plot, probably because both characters are supporting cast and Yotsuba is completely oblivious.

For some reason, perhaps because Yotsuba spends more time being upset but more likely because the novelty is wearing off, I didn't like this collection quite as much. There are still funny moments in every story, though. Even the drawing story, which was my least favorite, features Yotsuba drawing chalk outlines with other people wondering if someone was murdered and boggling at Miura's rolling shoes. Asagi, the eldest next-door daughter, is increasingly becoming my favorite character and gets a couple of the best exchanges in this collection.

The best story in this collection is #9, "Vengeance," in which Yotsuba decides to get revenge for someone killed in a TV show and starts hunting down everyone with her squirt gun. It's the funniest take on a game of Assassin that I've read and ends with a great Asagi moment and a great Yotsuba moment.

That story and "The Frog" (#13) stand out since they're based on Yotsuba's skewed perception of the world. Another reason why this collection isn't quite as good as the first is that there's less of that and more standard situational humor or humor based on Yotsuba just being loud. I like the stories best where I can feel my brain getting twisted by Yotsuba doing something logical but entirely unexpected, rather than her acting like a more traditional five-year-old.

The art here is about the same as the first book: black and white line drawing except for the cover, fairly standard panels except for a full-page "cover" to each story and occasionally a more sketchy pencil drawing of some closing moment as the last page, and liberal use of a more cartoon-like style to show over-the-top strong emotion. Yotsuba herself varies between cute and cartoonish, particularly since she's generally loud and her mouth is therefore usually a broad D. But when Azuma spends some time on detail, his art is excellent. I think he does particularly well with hair and with realistic teenage girls in casual clothing, and his faces, while simplistic, are very expressive. Yotsuba&! consistently has better art than Azuma's earlier Azumanga Daioh.

Despite not sticking with the parts of the first volume I liked the best, I still recommend Yotsuba&! 2 for light humor and that occasional bit of reality punning. Hopefully there will be more in the next collection.

Followed, unsurprisingly, by Yotsuba&! 3.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed: 2009-12-28

Last modified and spun 2014-12-21