Monday, September 03, 2007

Yotsuba&!, Vol. 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma

I feel like I should read more manga, so I try things like Yotsuba&! every so often.

And then I don't get them.

This is an all-ages comics story, first in a series, by a popular creator, that's supposed to be very funny. But I can't even figure out the premise. There's this little girl, Yotsuba, who's probably four or five. She has green hair (like a four-leaf clover, the translator unhelpfully points out), and the back-cover copy hints that she might even be an alien. But she also seems to have some sort of learning disability or brain dysfunction -- she doesn't know what common items are, doesn't seem to remember things people just told her, and is perpetually in a manic phase. The humor of this series (at least in this volume) is entirely driven by her perceptions of the world.

If she's just supposed to be a goofball, then she's funny. If she's unable to learn, or otherwise retarded, then I'm a bit uncomfortable laughing at her. I suspect there's some Japanese cultural reference, or a long history of characters like this, that I'm just not aware of.

But, from reading this book, it seemed to me like she has a major learning disability...and that we're supposed to find that funny. I might be a Republican, but some things are too far out even for me.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of manga, at my nearby Borders there always seems to be a small band of kids camped out on the floor of the managa isle, reading the books and presumably not buying them. For some reason that doesn't happen anywhere else in the store, not even the kids' section. And the staffers don't put a stop to it.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Johan: Manga sections have been growing massively in nearly all bookstores for the last several years because the sales per linear foot have been huge and total sales have been increasing (over 100% per year each of the last three years, I think) -- so those kids might be spending hours reading, but they also grab a pile of books to buy when they leave.

Post a Comment