Yotsuba&! 5

by Kiyohiko Azuma

Cover image

Translator: Javier Lopez
Series: Yotsuba&! #5
Publisher: ADV Manga
Copyright: 2006, 2007
Printing: October 2007
ISBN: 1-4139-0349-5
Format: Graphic novel
Pages: 204

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This is the fifth volume of Yotsuba&! (よつばと!), telling the further adventures of an extremely energetic and slightly strange five-year-old. Unfortunately, only slightly strange. The series continues to settle in to the pattern of the last few volumes, moving away from the twisted and mysterious understanding Yotsuba has of the world and back onto the traditional ground of situation comedy from misunderstandings and slight oddities of a young child. It's still moderately funny, but this isn't the direction that I was hoping that the series would go.

The best chapter of this volume is probably the first, in which Yotsuba interrupts Ena while she's working on a school project and has Miura dressed up in a robot costume made out of cardboard boxes. Yotsuba of course misunderstands what's going on, leaving Miura stuck in the costume because no one wants to disabuse Yotsuba of some understanding she has (a common theme of the series). But Miura takes advantage of that to mess with Ena a bit, which is fun.

This is standard sitcom material, though, and that's my main complaint about this series. It started out with a special edge, a unique sort of weirdness, and I wish there had been more exploration of that. Instead, we have Yotsuba helping out the next-door neighbors with chores, an outing to look at the stars, and then an outing to the beach. Yotsuba gets carried away and has strange interpretations of some things, but mostly she's just excessively enthusiastic, energetic, and fascinated by strange things. She doesn't come across as distinctly strange. Any of these episodes could be seen in a typical US sitcom (albeit a fairly good one).

The one that I was a bit hopeful for was the chapter where Yotsuba's father's "junior" shows up and Yotsuba takes an immediate dislike to him and is actively aggressive in a way that she hasn't been before. (I wish there had been some translator explanation of what a "junior" is here; this is something that Yen would have explained that points to the problems with the ADV translation, I think.) But it's left as a single episode and there are no further occurances of that character. There's a bit of potential there for future volumes.

I wouldn't buy the series at this point, but since a friend loaned it to me, I'll keep reading through the next volume (the last one I have on hand). It's not inspiring me to buy more of it, though. Had Yotsuba continued to be the strange, almost not human character that she was at the start, with a delightfully skew view of the world, I might have. But she's gotten much closer to a normal girl, and because of that gotten much less interesting to me. This volume was mildly amusing, but not laugh out-loud funny the way that some previous ones have been.

Followed, unsurprisingly, by Yotsuba&! 6.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2010-04-30

Last modified and spun 2014-12-21