Yotsuba&! 4

by Kiyohiko Azuma

Cover image

Translator: Javier Lopez
Series: Yotsuba&! #4
Publisher: ADV Manga
Copyright: 2005, 2007
Printing: July 2007
ISBN: 1-4139-0345-2
Format: Graphic novel
Pages: 190

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This is the fourth volume of Yotsuba&! (よつばと!) and the first that I was loaned produced by ADV Manga instead of Yen Press. As before, the story is very episodic with little required knowledge from previous installments and you can safely start anywhere. This installment includes six more stories plus a collection of four-panel comics that would be familiar to readers of Azumanga Daioh.

I was warned in advance that the ADV Manga translations aren't quite as good as the Yen Press translations, with fewer explanatory footnotes for Japanese wordplay or jokes that don't directly translate. I only noticed that in one place, but I also had a general, hard-to-pin-down feeling of dissatisfaction with this volume. I'm not sure how much the translation and presentation is responsible, but I liked this collection less than any of the previous ones.

The most obvious explanation is that Yotsuba's unfortunate trend towards becoming a normal, if energetic, five-year-old continues. There is almost none of the reality punning of the first collection here; the humor is instead driven by more standard situational humor and the events in the lives of the supporting cast. One of the plot drivers of two stories, for example, is Fuka (ADV Manga uses a different romanization) moping about someone she was in love with going out with someone else. (Thankfully, despite being romantic humor, this is actually funny as opposed to just embarassing.) There's a trip to the country because Jumbo thinks Miura isn't getting a summer vacation. Only the last episode is one of Yotsuba's quirky adventures, and it's not as good as the "Vengeance" story from the second collection.

The best part of this collection, I thought, was the four-panel comics. Azuma is wonderful at this form, and some of Yobsuba's quirky attitude comes out better in the very short form. I don't think the whole story would work that way, since Azuma establishes quite a bit of character depth that would be hard in the four-panel format, but this far into the series there's enough built-up background that they work well.

There are some good moments here. I identified strongly with poor Miura's experience with fishing, which pretty much matched my own. (You want me to stick what on what, and then dig it out of where?!) But the trend of the series is towards occasionally funny but forgettable rather than what I was hoping it would be. If you liked the earlier volumes, this is still worth reading if just for the four-panel comics, but I'd be less inclined to seek it out on its own.

Followed, as always, by Yotsuba&! 5.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2010-01-29

Last modified and spun 2014-12-21