Yoko Tsuno (1970-) is a French-Belgian comic book series by Roger Leloup. The title character is a young Japanese woman of multiple talents, initially trained as an electrician but also skilled in airplane piloting, martial arts (karate, aikido, kyudo), computer programming, etc. She's fluent in many foreign languages: English (required learning in technology fields), French (she's living there...), German (...or close by), Cantonese (her grandmother was from there) and more (most, through sleep learning improved by future technologies). Her adventures usually involve scientific or technological elements, and regularly go into outright Science Fiction, with the recurring presence of a humanoid alien race, the Vineans.Her sidekicks are two Westerners, Vic Video and Pol Pitron, and she is the adoptive mother of a Chinese girl, Morning Dew.A novel, L'écume de l'aube (The Foam of the Dawn), tells the story of Yoko's childhood, her family, friends and relationships up to her first adventure outside Japan. The main story arc is about the the Foam of the Dawn, a diamond-colored pearl envisioned by Yoko's grandfather. He tried to create the pearl all his life, but never succeeded and as a result, his cultured pearl business failed and his family was nearly torn apart. Yoko believed in him and convinced him to try one more time.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In "Curious Trio", the accumulation of residual energy from the Vineans' computer system gave rise to the spontaneous development of an evil AI. In "The Three Suns of Vinea", the entire planet Vinea turns out to be ruled by a despotic AI.
The latter could be considered an inversion, as a living brain's pattern got stuck in a mental amplifier and kept running after the original's death.
Ambiguously Bi: On the one hand, Word of God is that Yoko and Vic are almost a couple, but that the author intentionally did not put Yoko in a relationship so as not to upset the many fans who were "in love with her". On the other, despite said Word of God, she has and retains a knack for "picking up" cute young ladies.
Armor-Piercing Slap: Happens quite often in the series: Kazuky to Yoko, Countess Olga to Yoko, Yoko to Emilia just to name a few.
Art Evolution: In the first few albums the characters are drawn much more cartoonishly, which is particularly evident with Pol.
Actually, Pol was the last to change, while Yoko and Vic get an overhaul rather early in the comics.
It changes again in "The Astrologer of Bruge" where Yoko is noticeably older.
Apocalypse How: Both Vinea in the past and Earth in the future go through a Planetary/Total extinction apocalypse. Most of the stories about Vinea involve picking the pieces from the former, while Monya went back in time to prevent the latter.
Backstory: Yoko's youth is explored in the novel L'écume de l'aube (The Foam of the Dawn).
Body Double Margaret, in "The Prey and the Shadow", is blackmailed into becoming this for the local Ophelia, Cecilia. When Yoko finds out, Margaret begs her for help since she's too scared to openly rebel against Sir William, but wants to get free and help Cecilia.
Ito Kazuky has a lookalike serving as a decoy. However, the decoy is revealed to be even more ruthless than Kazuky and a little crazy.
Break-Out Character : Yoko was originally envisioned as the #3 characters of the trio, behind Vic and Pol, and the first thirteen pages of the first book were drawn that way. Then the publisher suggested Leloup try his hand at small character stories to begin with, and he started with the least important of the three... who promptly made #5 in overall character polls that year. Vic and Pol were demoted to sidekicks, Yoko promoted to star of the series, and the rest is history.
Evil Plan: Ito Kazuky's company created a disintegration chamber. With the end of the Cold War, countries are desperate to get rid of their stockpile of nukes. However, the machine doesn't eliminate the radiation. Nonetheless, Kazuky advertise that his machine is fully functional. When countries will deliver him the warheads for disposition, he'll secretly keep them intact and well hidden. Presumably, he's going to resell them to the black market.
Expy: Vic and Pol are expies of Jacky and Célestin from the now defunct French-Belgian comic book "Jacky et Célestin".
According to Roger Leloup, Yoko is an expy of Japanese actress Yoko Tani.
Failure Knight: Yoko's old guardian Aoki, from "Daughter of The Wind". He was a pilot from World War II who didn't get to die honourably in a kamikaze attack and could never get over it. He got his wish through an Heroic Sacrifice.
Fanservice: In "Wotan's Fire", Yoko showed up in bikini on a oil tanker. The crewmen were only too happy to welcome her aboard. In the "The Rhine Gold", we can see her wearing nothing but a towel after taking a shower. In the "Gate of Souls", she lost some of her spacesuit's equipment, forcing her to wear a worn-out, skimpier uniform. In 'On the Edge of Life' Yoko arrives in Rothenburg wearing an ultra short red micro-mini dress.
The mechanism behind themnote Physics becomes Newtonian if a region of space is devoid of light, as explained in "The Three Suns of Vinea", is original but also a definite example of Artistic License - Physics.
Later on, Yoko's starship the Ryu can do it as well. Strangely enough, while "The Three Suns of Vinea" took care in explaining that it was not possible to travel faster than light in normal space, the Ryu seems to do it without special precautions. Possibly justified in that it's from a technology much more recent than the 2 million-years old one of the Vineans.
Human Aliens: The Vineans have blue skin and somewhat sharper traits, but apart from that are indistinguishable from humans. This incredible coincidence is never explained, since they come from the Triangulum galaxy and already looked like that two million years ago, before homo sapiens had even evolved on Earth.
In one album, Yoko even could disguise as a Vinean. It worked because they only use b/w monitors.
Human Popsicle: The Vineans routinely use suspended animation to deal with long-distance space travel, or to keep survivors from the cataclysm that nearly destroyed their planet stowed away until further notice. In "On the Edge of Life", this is also how Magda, a little girl from 1945, has been kept alive until the 1970s despite suffering from critical wounds and a rare chronic condition.
Hyperspace Arsenal: The Vineans can pop vehicles out of their pockets in the same way as computer files are decompressed.
Not exactly: one team of war mongers had that technology; most Vineans don't have access to that technology.
Karmic Death: Villains have a tendency to bring doom upon their own heads.
Latex Space Suit: The environment suits, called Vinean outfits, are very tight-fitting despite not being quite latex. For space sorties, they use bulkier space suits fitted on top of a layer of body socks made out of rubber.
Limited Wardrobe: Changed over time. In her early adventures, Yoko would almost always wear the same outfit, a short red dress over a black catsuit. On the cover of The Edge of Life, Yoko can be seen wearing a red mini dress. Later on, Leloup became fond of depicting her in more varied outfits, and her wardrobe has increased in size accordingly. Pol was the last to leave his yellow pullover behind. He often wears a yellow shirt though.
Meet Cute: Pol & Mieke. She's a flower girl from 16th century Bruges; he's a time-traveller from the early 21st century posing as a "lord"; she follows him back to modern times.
Mind Reading: The Titans. The alien creature from "The Time Spiral" use a variation of this trope to feed information directly in people's brains.
Missing Mom: Lady Mary from "The Prey and the Ghost", whoae death is very important to the plot. Actually, her murder.
Monya. Her mother placed her in a shuttle on the way to her father's secret base, while the space station they lived is destroyed.
Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Interestingly, this actually varies strongly between books. As a loose rule, Yoko Tsuno's adventures can be divided into 3 categories — those in space (or with the vineans on earth); those on Earth, without aliens or space-travel; and after Monya arrives in the Timespiral, adventures through time occur as well. On the hardness scale, the series generally swings between 3 and 5, with the space-setting stories being the softest, and those on Earth being the hardest.
Eg. "The 3 Suns of Vinea" is a soft 3, while "Message for Eternity" is at the hard end of 5.
Ninja: In "Daughter of the Wind", Kazuky has a bunch of ninjas (or more precisely ninja reenactors) on his payroll. She apparently got some ninja training herself when she was still a teenager (in the novel "The Foam of the Dawn").
Nuke 'em: The Vineans drop a thermal bomb on the Titans' territory after they left. They also used their own version of nukes against a space city that came too close to their planet. When Ito Kazuky'shurricane-making missile goes out of control, Yoko and Aoki deliver a powerful nuke that ends with Aoki's heroic sacrifice.
The Ophelia: Cecilia, again. Subverted, though: she's actually sane, but her Evil Uncle wants people to think she's a nutjob so he can set her up for an "accidental" death... by making the desperately lonely Cecilia believe she can be reunited with her mom's spirit.
Ingrid is introduced as a prospect one in "The Devil's Organ", as she's seen crying and unresponsive during a cruise to the Rhin. Subverted again: she not only was in an Heroic BSOD after her father's death... but she was completely drugged as the Big Bad/her dad's killer wants her out of the way. Said Big Bad throws poor Ingrid into the river, but Yoko and her friends save her and she soon recovers the hold on herself.
Our Souls Are Different: In "The Gate of Souls", there is some Phlebotinium allowing to remove souls from people and transfer them into other people or store them in robots. It is not very clear what the soul actually is (and Leloup confirms he intended it that way, to avoid theological debates), as the soulless people seem to be functioning normally, but are eager to recover their souls, while people implanted with the souls of others seem to gain their knowledge and skills. Yoko reacts violently when a device attempts to probe her soul.
Interestingly, Yoko and Pol have much more screen time together than Yoko and Vic.
Retcon: Yoko's father was named 'Susuki Tsuno' in 'Electronic Adventures'. Leloup changed it to 'Seiki Tsuno' in 'The Daughter of the Wind' when he recognized that "Suzuki" isn't a proper first name for a Japanese. He forgot to correct one speech bubble on latter prints.
Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: What kicked off the conflict in "The Prey And the Ghost" was how, 20 years ago, Cecilia's mother Mary chose her rich suitor Brian over her poor suitor Mac Nab. It didn't help that Mac Nab was a yandere rumored to be into the occult, or that he showed up at the wedding and predicted they wouldn't be happy. Which did happen... but not because of Mac Nab himself.
Scars Are Forever: Yoko has a scar on her right shoulder caused by a shard of glass windows. She healed the wound with futuristic cell regeneration technology, but it left a scar.
Scenery Porn: Leloup loves drawing backgrounds with all the details he can. And he's VERY good at that.
She Cleans Up Nicely: Yoko dolls up in elegant dresses more than once. I.e.: in "The Devil's Organ", she even wears a kimono, leaving everyone starstruck. And in The Prey And the Shadow, Cecilia lends her one of her mother's gowns, which has Yoko almost squealing in wonder at how pretty her wardrobe is. And once it's all cleared up and the Power Trio stays a little more in the castle, she gives Yoko some more.
Ship Tease: Yoko and Vic at the end of 'Wotan's Fire'.
Shrines and Temples: In "Daughter of the Wind", Yoko seeks help in the Buddhist temple she used to pray in as a child.
Emilia, the latest supporting cast member Yoko has accrued, is a traditional teen Shorttank.
Smug Snake: Ito Kazuky, Karl Moebius, Sir William and the Doctor.
Spanner in the Works: Yoko and her guys often end up derailing more than one Evil Plan. And more than once they're contacted by a person in trouble and help them derail some more evil plans, like in "The Prey and the Ghost" where Margaret asks them to help her get out of Sir William's gambits and save Cecilia.
Spin-Off: Yoko Tsuno is actually a spin off of another French-Belgian comic book called 'Jacky et Célestin' written by Leloup. Yoko made her debut in one story and Leloup liked her so much that he decided to set a new series around her. Jacky and Célestin became Expy of Vic and Pol.
Stable Time Loop: Invoked in "The Astrologer of Bruges" and "The Morning of the World"; Yoko goes back in time because she's seen evidence she went already.
Stalker with a Crush: Mac Nab from "The Prey and the Shadow" was one for Cecilia's Missing Mom, Lady Mary. He went as far as having an altar dedicated to Lady Mary in his house, including a mannequin built in likeness to her and dressed up in her wedding dress (which, according to him, was delivered by someone else after Mary's death). This mannequin is vital to derail Sir William's cruel Evil Plan and save Cecilia's life, though.
Starfish Aliens: The unnamed alien entity in "The Time Spiral" looks like a giant jellyfish.
Taking the Bullet: Myna shields Yoko from a erasing beam. She got better, since being a robot, her memories were copied back into her circuits.
Tap on the Head: Martial arts move often used to knock Yoko unconscious (L'or du Rhin). OTOH, Yoko uses it too, like in "Daughter of the Wind" when she quickly applies one to Kazuky's mook. (Justified Trope: Yoko is an Aikidoka and the neck chop is a rather common Aikido move, named yonkomen)
The Teetotaler: Yoko in contrast to Pol. She did shared glass of vodka with countess Olga however.
Time Travel: Monya's time machine, invented/completed in space after Earth was destroyed — to undo said destruction — is used on several occasions even after the initial story introducing it is resolved.
Also used by a Vinean colony that settled on massive rock formations orbiting giant stars. They periodically travel to the future to avoid the frequent hazardous storms and quakes. Yoko's ship the Ryu is also capable of travelling in time.
"The Hex of Amethyst" has Malcom Hendry inventing a time machine in the '30 and gets stranded in the '70.
Title Drop: Almost every adventure has this trope invoked by someone, most of the time by Yoko.
Translation Convention: The Vineans have universal translators headsets that enable them to speak with humans. The Titans communicate telepathically with Vineans using telepathic transmitters.
Twin Desynch: Khany and Poky were young twins when they were placed into suspended animation. They were awoken at different dates, resulting Khany being an adult and Poky remaining a child.
A variation occurs in "The Three Suns of Vinea": Poky and Khany's mother Sindah is found in stasis, having entered it when she was Khany's current age. As a result, mother and daughter now have the same biological age.
Under the Sea: "The Archangels of Vinea" is almost entirely set in a subaquatic environment.
Underwater Base: Queen Hegora's base in "The Archangels of Vinea". Also, Ito Kazuky has set up a secret missile launching complex on the very wreck of battleship Yamato.
Unobtainium: Gobol use a rare material called "vinadium". Its blue radiation, when refined and filtered, prevent his cells from aging and gives him energy-like attacks.
We Can Rule Together. In "The Prey and the Ghost", Sir William's co conspirator, the mysterious doctor, tells Margaret as he holds her hostage that she should join his agenda and backstab Sir William, lest he kills her with poison. Margaret tearfully says no, and right then Vic and Yoko pull a Big Damn Heroes and save her.
Weather Control Machine: Used by Vineans to create a inhabitable environment, since their home planet has a synchronous rotation. Though arguably it is more of a weather BARRIER than a weather control in the traditional sense.
Weapon of Mass Destruction: In "Daughter of the Wind", Yoko's father has invented a weapon that creates localized typhoons. His opponent goes one further, and creates a full-sized cyclone. Which then has to be destroyed by nuclear weapons before it sweeps over Japan...
We Hardly Knew Ye: Stanford. While we get a bit of his backstory, we never get to know his true plans for the time machine and the antimatter.
Wave Motion Gun: "Wotan's Fire" has a cannon powered by lightning energy. The Vineans' defense laser cannon in their homeworld's north pole.
Weirdness Magnet: Yoko has ran into aliens, time travellers, dinosaurs, immortals, secret service agencies just to name a few.
Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Yoko started working with small jobs in electronics, then it evolve into working in TV/telecommunications. Later, she works as a test pilot, a government agent, a computer programmer, a secretary and even a model.
Yandere: Mac Nab from "The Prey And the Ghost" is an adult, male example. He also subverts it by, despite still obsessively loving the dead Mary, remaining focused enough to join Yoko's plan so they can save Cecilia and punish Sir William.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Yoko's mother, Masako. Justified, since Yoko is from a traditional Japanese family an the comic itself started in The Seventies.
invoked in "The Devil's Organ", when Yoko shows up in a kimono and shocks her companions and hosts.
The novel L'écume de l'aube (The Foam of the Dawn) contains examples of:
Arranged Marriage: Both Yoko and Shinji's parents wanted their children to hook up when they get older. Yoko didn't mind since she love Shinji. However, Shinji loved Akina. When this is revealed years later, this cause quite a commotion for everyone.
The Hero: Shinji act this way, being the leader of Yoko's band of friends.
Honor Before Reason / What You Are in the Dark : After successfully stealing the pearl back from madam Kwan and Wai, Yoko was griped with guilt. Seeing how the pearl made Wai happy and how Yoko had lied to the boy, she couldn't bear it anymore and confess the whole truth to madam Kwan.
Idiot Ball: Yoko's diamond pearl was stolen because of his father Seiki. He knew the pearl was unique and highly valuable. Fearing an unsuspected burglar might steal it, he had a local jeweler make a copy... but he neither warned Yoko, nor checked if the original that was returned to him was genuine. The theft would go unnoticed for many years.
Ill Boy: Wai, madam Kwan's son, is confined to a wheelchair.
Maiden Aunt: Yoko's detestable aunt Hiromi. While she's a widow, she fit the trope perfectly.
Memento MacGuffin: The Foam of the Dawn is a diamond-colored pearl created by Yoko's grandfather and given to her. While it's unique and highly valuable, it represent Yoko's childhood, memories and her close relationship with the patriarch. When it gets stolen, Yoko goes on her very first adventure to find it.
Secret Relationship: Shinji and Akina. No one knows when it started, but it wouldn't be discovered until Yoko reach 17 years old.
Secret Keeper: Seiki becomes this after the funeral urn incident.
The Smart Guy: Nagayo. He wears glasses and his parents are architects. When Yoko's band of friends disband, Nagayo's parents assign him a private teacher for his weekend studies.
Tagalong Kid: Yoshio's young brother, Kiotaka. It doesn't last long however, as Yoko's friends part ways.