Today is always the most enjoyable day!Yotsuba&!
in Japanese) is a Slice of Life
comedy manga by Kiyohiko Azuma, creator of the acclaimed Azumanga Daioh
It stars a cheerful
five-year-old girl named Yotsuba Koiwai, who moves into a new neighborhood with her adoptive father. She doesn't know very much about the world around her and is incredibly curious, but her father and their new neighbors (the Ayase family) are willing to help her out. Or get dragged along in her wake, as the case may be. She does, technically, know the meaning of "restraint", but she has trouble pronouncing it
Twelve volumes have been released thus far in Japan, as of June 2013. The odd title comes from how every chapter
) is named "Yotsuba & Whatever
," where whatever
is the new thing or concept she encounters that day, and the exclamation mark comes from her way of throwing herself full-throttle
into anything she does. The series has been described by one reviewer as "printed joy" and rightly so. Azuma somehow manages to create a series that's both feel-good happy
and side-splittingly hilarious
. Not for nothing is the series motto "Enjoy Everything."
Despite its popularity, no animated adaptation is in the works, and according to Azuma himself
, Yotsuba isn't well suited to an animated format
Be sure to check out the character sheet
for character tropes as well.
Contains examples of:
- Adult Fear: Naturally, seeing how the series often focuses on a 5-year-old Genki Girl and her father (or a grown-up friend looking after her). Sometimes even Played for Laughs, others not so much. Examples include Yotsuba riding her bike by herself to Fuuka's school, and Yotsuba wandering off from her supervising grown up.
- Art Evolution:
- Yotsuba's appearance in particular develops between Chapter 1 and, for example, Chapter 27, so that she looks more like a 5-year-old, with shorter, more shaped ponytails. By around Chapter 53, the shape of her eyes have changed still more, along with some of her casual expressions.
- By volume 6, Yotsuba no longer has any whites in her eyes on the front covers of the books.
- Artificial Riverbank: A perfect place to potter around on bicycles with a girl still using training wheels, right? Well, maybe not.
- Banister Slide: How Yotsuba beats her father down the stairs of a hilltop shrine.
- Beach Episode: Two, one each in the beach and pool variations. Being a Slice of Life series, neither counts as filler.
- Bears Are Bad News: Subverted with several teddy bears, including Yotsuba's "beddy tear", Duralumin. Straight example when they go camping and they're given bells which are to keep any bears away.
- Beat Panel: Usually from Koiwai, when reacting to Yotsuba's shenanigans.
- Berserk Button:
- Never touch Yotsuba's candy. Ever. Not even if it's all a dream.
- If you happen to be a dog, do not take Duralumin from her.
- Jumbo seems to have a few, whether it be Miura one-upping him (unintentionally) or the possibility of Asagi being involved with another guy.
- For many members of a certain image board Yotsuba is the Berserk Button... don't ask. Specifically, don't ask for any Rule 34.
- Bland-Name Product: Averted several times, more often than not — for example, Koiwai gets a package from amazon.co.jp, complete with the distinctive logo.
- Blank White Eyes: Eventually happens to just about everyone around Yotsuba, and to Yotsuba herself, occasionally.
- Blue with Shock: Well, hatched black lines of shock.
- Blush Sticker:
- Yotsuba, appropriately enough, gets two bright circles on her cheeks a few times, such as when her reading ability is praised.
- Happens once with Jumbo, when he thinks he's about to meet Asagi.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In chapter 77, Yotsuba shows Torako the pictures she's been taking: a dog, a park, her dad's foot, and a yakuza (or at least that's what Yotsuba assumes he is).
- Brick Joke:
- When Fuuka asks Yotsuba what her dad does, she gets it mixed up and says "konnyaku" (a jelly from a type of potato) instead of "honyaku" (translations). Later on when shopping with them, Fuuka asks Koiwai a question about making konnyaku - when he gives a vague answer, she assumes it's a trade secret and leaves him confused.
- The chapter with Danbo: at the beginning before he's revealed, Mrs Ayase teasingly asks if Miura is going to wear the costume home, and Miura replies it'd be too embarrassing. Towards the end, she does in fact go home (or at least leaves the Ayase house and walks down the street) in the costume so that Yotsuba won't find out it's who Danbo really is.
- Broken Glass Penalty: At one point, Yotsuba kicks a soccer ball out a closed window by accident. Her dad spanks her (though, as we learn, this is because she lied about it and her father dislikes lies).
- Can't You Read the Sign?: Yotsuba leans over the arm of an escalator... and hits her head on a sign warning not to do just that. Made even funnier when Koiwai mentions that he's never seen that happen before.
- Cast of Snowflakes: Azuma does a fairly good job giving all characters, major or minor, distinct designs.
- Cat Smile: Two from Fuuka, one from Ena, and one from Yotsuba, for various reasons. For example, Fuuka does it once when she finds out Jumbo uses a beard trimmer while trying to hold in her laughter as Yotsuba had just trimmed some of Jumbo's beard off right in the middle.
- Cheerful Child: Yotsuba is a curious little fireball — at least for the first few volumes. As the series progresses and her characterization gets more nuanced, she becomes not universally cheerful: so far, she's been shown having two meltdown tantrums, a day of total dejection, as well as a fit of sulks that Koiwai and Yanda had to cajole her out of. Not so much averted as made part of a three-dimensional character, and her tantrums aside she is indeed one of the most optimistic children ever.
- Cicadian Rhythm: Subverted in the first chapter when Yotsuba climbs a telephone pole and pretends to be a cicada. Later lampshade hung when she develops an obsession with tsukutsukuboushi, a late-summer species said to bring the end of summer, to the point that she thinks they are summer-ending fairies; she then dresses up as how she imagines they look and claims she can end summer herself.
- Combining Mecha: Augment variation: Parodied when Jumbo carries Yotsuba on his shoulders so her net can reach cicadas higher up the tree trunks. They even yell "GATTAI!"
- Comedic Underwear Exposure: Koiwai generally wears boxers around the house during summer, and Yotsuba claims that he hates wearing pants.
"I AM BOXERMAN!"
- Compliment Backfire: Played straight at Fuuka: "People look cool on bicycles ... even Fuuka." Yotsuba was musing to herself with no one around, so Fuuka never heard this. A weird variant with Asagi when Yotsuba played Opposite Day and blurts out, "Asagi's an ugly old hag!" Definitely heard by Asagi, who has no idea what she's doing and is understandably not pleased.
- Continuity Nod: All over the place.
- Pay particular attention to the "Yotsubox" in the corner of the tv room, where Yotsuba keeps, er, treasures picked up in previous chapters, and which accumulates drawings of people she meets.
- The wall above Koiwai's desk collects Yotsuba's drawings and photos.
- Yotsuba's stool for pancake-making is the little thing Koiwai made to practice for the bookshelf.
- Torako actually kept the dirty ball Yotsuba gave to her as a souvenir. Awww...
- Fuuka thinking Koiwai is a Konnyaku maker. This joke was unfortunately Lost in Translation.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Yotsuba claimed a "lying bug" was making her lie, so her dad put her in the enclosure of a guardian niō statue at a Buddhist temple, claiming it'd "get rid of" whatever was lying. Cue complete meltdown and a bawled confession that she was the one lying, after which Koiwai let her out.
- Cool Big Sis: Several, played varying degrees of straight and averted.
- Played straightest with Asagi, who is the only character to displace Yotsuba in her gun raid, and has her good moments such as fixing Duralumin's voicebox.
- Similarly, Yotsuba repeatedly describes Torako as "cool", and more than once seeks her approval for the coolness of things. In Torako's case, she even has the cool personality to go with the trope.
- Yotsuba treats the other Ayase girls, Fuuka and Ena, as older sisters, to the point of calling their mother "Mom." Ena, however, is more playmate than anything else, and in chapter 66 Yotsuba calls Fuuka "like an onee-san" (a polite, formal address for a "big sister" figure) for knowing "bonjour", which raises her opinion of Fuuka. Fuuka is not pleased to learn she hadn't been thought of as a Cool Big Sis all this time.
- Miura being a Cool Big Sis is averted with a lampshade: when she asks Yotsuba to be quiet so "nee-san" (a polite, informal address for a "big sister" figure) can study, Yotsuba laughs at the idea of calling her that.
- Covers Always Lie: The first couple volumes show things that never happen, though they at least indicated the right genre. Averted in the next few volumes with covers depicting a scene from an incident within, but volumes 9-11 return to non-canon depictions, this time in watercolors, fitting with the gentler spirit of their content. Volume 12 returns to aversion with another in-volume scene.
- Cross-Popping Veins: On Yotsuba and Koiwai when they get mad at Yanda, and Miura when she gets mad at Jumbo.
- Cuteness Proximity: Yotsuba's dad appears to have a mild case at the zoo, around the guinea pigs.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
Torako: A folding bicycle is just that, a bicycle you fold up.
Asagi: You keep piling on the new information there.
- Despair Event Horizon: When Duralumin's voice box is broken, Yotsuba almost goes catatonic with grief.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Yotsuba, frustrated by her failures at the Goldfish Scooping Game, was offered a free goldfish by the stall owner. Yotsuba rejects his offer by this reasoning.
- Drop-In Character: One each of the annoying and cute varieties: Yanda is the annoying one for the Koiwais and Yotsuba herself the cute one for the Ayases.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Cardbo/Danbo isn't seen again until Chapter 69 where Yotsuba spots his head in Miura's room and Miura declares that he flew to her room and "died"... because he used too much money and felt at peace. Justified as he was merely Miura's school project and she didn't expect Yotsuba to visit her. This trope is then averted after Danbo is brought back to life for Yotsuba's sake.
- Emoticon: Suggested by Asagi to Yotsuba while serving as "e-mail". Her expression at the end of the chapter is a dead-on visualization of the O____O emoticon.
- Engaging Conversation: Wait until you grow up before marrying Fuuka, Yotsuba! We know cake is nice, but...
- Episode Finishes the Title: The title of each chapter of Yotsuba&! follows the structure of "Yotsuba & [insert word here]".
- Every Girl Is Cuter with Hair Decs:
- Yotsuba's cute enough normally, but when she dresses for a festival with bunny hair ties for her pigtails, the kawaii is turned Up to Eleven.
- The kerchief in the Flower Cupid's hair.
- Miura gives Ena two flower-shaped hair clips as a souvenir of her trip to Hawaii.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Every chapter. When one is titled "Yotsuba & Cake", you are indeed going to get a story about Yotsuba and some cake.
- Explosive Overclocking: When Yotsuba wants to hit every button in an elevator, Ena warns her she's going to cause this.
- Face Doodling: Yotsuba on her dad, so he can match the drawing she made of him with a beard and moustache.
- Festival Episode: A couple: the town fireworks festival, Fuuka's School Festival, and a local shrine's festival.
- Floating Timeline: While each chapter takes place on a specific date, which in 82 chapters has run from mid-July to the start of November, Word of God is that each chapter is set in the year it's published. This allows Azuma to keep technology and pop-culture references current, instead of stuck back in 2003 when he started.
- Four-Leaf Clover: Yotsuba is named for it, her hair resembles one, and she gives one to Asagi, who also gave one to her mum as a child.
- Free-Range Children: Yotsuba has no trouble darting around town without supervision. However, aside from a couple famous episodes that have made this almost a trademark for her, the series averts this in that she usually is supervised (either by Koiwai or an Ayase), and at one point deconstructs it as well: At the fireworks festival, because Yotsuba hasn't realized the potential dangers of getting lost in a crowd, after she runs off, Koiwai has Jumbo, Ena, and Miura hide to teach her a lesson.
- Funny Background Event: Koiwai losing his ladle in chapter 85.
- Genki Girl: Yotsuba, a cheerful and energetic child. As Asagi puts it, Yotsuba's default mode of travel is "run".
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Ena (not only her two main teddy bears but some other plushies) and Yotsuba (after acquiring Duralumin, Yotsuba begins carrying it everywhere) are of course prime age for this, but in a Shout-Out, Fuuka has a Chiyo-chichi in her room.
- Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Yotsuba, underscoring that she really is a small child. Dad also uses it once, in an appropriately dramatic way.
- Goldfish Scooping Game: At the town fireworks display, where Yotsuba gets to play more than the usual three times.
- Gollum Made Me Do It: Used as an excuse by Yotsuba: "A lying bug made me do it."
- Gratuitous English: Yotsuba especially — but then, her father lets her watch adult gangster movies.
- Hair Colors: Yotsuba's is green, which really stands out in a series otherwise relentlessly grounded in the real world.
- Some fans (spurred in part by ADV's back-cover copy) have suggested that Yotsuba's hair is a plot point, hinting at an extraterrestrial origin.
- Happy Dance:
- Done by Koiwai with Yotsuba as backup when he completes a assignment with an all-nighter.
- Done by Miss Stake with Fuuka and Yotsuba as backup when cooking a cake, several times.
- Happy Rain: An early heartwarming moment comes when Yotsuba gleefully plays in a rainstorm: "Nothing in this world can get her down. Nothing." Yotsuba later shows that she considers all rain to be Happy Rain — even typhoons.
- Hellish Pupils: Yotsuba sometimes gets this, but it indicates nothing more ominous than her being startled, both in good and bad ways.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Fuuka mocks Jumbo and Koiwai for not knowing how to swim. Then Yotsuba pushes her in. Fuuka can't swim. (Yotsuba, on the other hand, is a very good swimmer...)
- In "Yotsuba & Festivals" Ena makes fun of Yotsuba, who's scared of a man wearing a Tengu mask — and is promptly startled by him.
- In "Yotsuba & Friends", Miura teases Yotsuba about being scared of the dog. When said dog takes Duralumin, Miura is too scared to save him.
- I Can See My House from Here: So Yotsuba claims from a hilltop shrine. After a moment, Koiwai turns her 90 degrees to face the correct direction.
- I Was Told There Would Be Cake: To Yotsuba, pound cake doesn't count.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: With chapter 14 as the Odd Name Out, every title is "Yotsuba & __".
- Image Song: Two CDs have been released, both entirely instrumental. One follows Yotsuba through the course of a imaginary typical day, and the other through winter. Both are excellent.
- Impossible Task: In a flashback, a young Asagi presents a four-leafed clover to her mother, who then tasks her to find a five-leafed one, and snickers over her distressed searching.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Fuuka's weapon of choice. Perhaps fortunately, most get Lost in Translation.
- Informed Ability: Asagi is supposedly very popular with the guys, but she's never seen with a boyfriend. Then again, outside her family, she is mostly only seen with Torako.
- Iyashikei: A given with a series that is basically one big heartwarming moment.
- Japanese Holidays: Yotsuba has so far been involved in O-bon and Respect for the Aged Day. Fuuka's school's Cultural Festival and the autumn Danjiri Festival also sort-of count, though they're not technically holidays. (Halloween, of course, doesn't count at all.)
- Yanda, who flat-out enjoys his role as Yotsuba's "nemesis". This is somewhat subverted in that Koiwai and Jumbo are aware he's a jerk; they seem to put up with him only because he's Dad's kohai and they consistently take Yotsuba's side in her squabbles with him. He eventually starts behaving a bit better, to the point of possibly graduating to Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Asagi is a minor example. She doesn't pass up opportunities to mess with her sisters (especially Fuuka) and Yotsuba, although she does realize when she's gone too far — for example, after seeing Yotsuba's reaction to swiping the strawberry from her cake, Asagi quickly returned it, much to the dismay of her mother, whose strawberry she had already eaten at that point.
- Joshikousei: Fuuka and her classmates who are the only ones seen in their uniform in the series.
- Kawaiiko: Flower Cupid - subverted by Yotsuba's packing heat when she goes out.
- Kick the Dog:
- Mrs. Ayase has one during a flashback to Asagi's childhood. When Asagi gives her a four-leaf clover, Mrs. Ayase smiles and says she would like a five-leaf clover instead. As the flashback ends with Asagi tearfully trying to find a clover that is even rarer, Mrs. Ayase wonders how Asagi grew to be "such a bad seed."
- Yanda permanently ensures the wrath of Yotsuba by taking a bite out of her ice cream.
- Yotsuba has her own Kick the Dog moment, for values of "dog" that include "goat" and of "kick" that include "punch with her fist." It was, however, awesome. Plus, the goat deserved it.
- Torako, oddly enough, also gets one of these: when she first meets Yotsuba, she blows smoke in the girl's face. It's a bit at odds with her later portrayal.
- She may have done it to demonstrate that smoking is not as cool as Yotsuba thinks.
- Leitmotif: In the Image Songs.
- Lost in Translation: Several jokes, not surprisingly.
- One is concerning Yotsuba explaining what her dad's job is, when she says makes konnyaku, a type of gelatin-like cake made from a yam-like plant, instead of honyaku or translations. Yotsuba claims he's a 'trainspotter' in the ADV translation or a 'trashmaker' in the Yen Press version. The problem is the Brick Joke comes back in a later chapter, when Fuuka sounds like she's making a non-sequitur about Yotsuba's dad's konnyaku business being a trade secret.
- There's a running gag about how Jumbo has never met Torako before and assumes that she might be Asagi's boyfriend (note that Yotsuba keeps referring to her as Tora, which is gender neutral — Japanese speakers rarely use third person gendered pronouns). The problem comes up when Jumbo refers to Torako as a 'she' when he was looking at her photos of the hot air balloon event.
- The joke behind Shimauu's nickname; in Japanese, instead of introducing herself to the class with the standard "Yoroshiku onegaishimasu ("Please take care of me"), she accidentally said "Yoroshiku onegaishimau" ("Please accidentally take care of me/ please take care of me with regret")note which lead to her nickname Shimauu. The official English publications names her "Miss Stake" instead which is still a result from her flubbed introduction but not directly derived like its Japanese counterpart.
- The hysterically funny effect of Yotsuba combing childish speech patterns, including referring to herself by name instead of pronoun, with an innocent imitation of her father's masculine language has never been reproduced in English.
- Mama Bear: With a real (toy) bear cub, even. Don't get between Yotsuba and Duralumin.
- Memetic Mutation: Exemplified In-Universe with the teddy bear Duralumin, who shares a name with a metal alloy but is really Yotsuba's mispronunciation of Ena's stuffed bear Giulietta.
- Mind Screw: Asagi's weapon of choice.
- Mondegreen: in-universe example — Yotsuba any time she sings. The humor usually doesn't translate out of Japanese well.
- Mundane Made Awesome?: EVERYTHING in Yotsuba's world is awesome, and "today is always the most enjoyable day." From delivering milk, to riding a bike, to going to the supermarket, each trip is like an Odyssey to Yotsuba.
- Mundane Object Amazement: Yotsuba can be amazed at just about anything — if she's never met it before.
- My Card: Yotsuba has her own (rather crumpled) business card. It has her house number on it so that people can contact Koiwai in case she gets in trouble.
- Nobody Poops: Averted, as Yotsuba often wonders if her dad is pooping. In one chapter when Jumbo calls, Yotsuba answers it and says that he's taking a poop.
- No Cartoon Fish: More like No Cartoon Animals; most of the animals are photorealistic, though the fish, in particular, are disturbingly so. The main counterexample are the dogs, which tend to the cartoony, particularly those dogs Yotsuba barks back at.
- No Longer with Us: Asagi talks about her salaryman father like this, though he's most definitely not dead. The first time she does it, Fuuka calls her on it, saying "No, no, no. Dad is ALIVE. He's working right now."
- Not What It Looks Like: Happens quite often to Fuuka, especially when Koiwai is concerned.
- Fuuka is locked in the Koiwais bathroom so she tries to go out via the window, and Koiwai catches her doing so. The Not What It Looks Like bit isn't here as Koiwai knew the bathrom lock is broken - it comes when he tries to help her get out and Asagi comes by and sees them.
- Fuuka helping Yotsuba with the laundry and when Koiwai notices her, she's holding one of his underpants.
- Fuuka playing with Yotsuba's paper-cup phone in her room and Koiwai unexpectedly replying to her via his room. Asagi walks in on the two of them using it and Fuuka panics saying it's not what it looks like.
- Oh, Crap: Given a Genki Girl with a five-year-old's coordination, no surprise this happens a lot;
- One notable moment is when Yotsuba thinks she broke a bicycle in a bicycle shop.
- The time when Yotsuba eats her father's snack; she does get something else for him anyway.
- When she takes the Ayase sisters to visit her home, to give Fuuka some coffee after Yotsuba failed doing so twice, her father discovers she lied to him. Just look at her face.
- A non-Yotsuba example is when she wants to go out with an umbrella when there was a typhoon. She really does. Her dad and the Ayase family (especially Asagi who runs after her) aren't amused.
- A moment where she borrows an exercise ball and accidentally breaks several cups.
- Ena and Miura help Yotsuba wash Duralumin after being stolen by a dog. They forget that the stuffed bear is supposed to talk and only remember after taking it out of the washer.
- Yotsuba's face when her dad sees the mess she made from painting the table blue (without his permission) and the paint on her hands that she's desperately trying (and failing) to wash off.
- Ojou: Yotsuba, Ena, and Miura play at being "fancy young ladies" in the car while driving to the campground.
- Ominous Owl: When Yotsuba visits the zoo, she's terrified by the owl.
- One of the Kids: Much of the grown-up cast, to an extent, but Yanda is the most childish of the bunch.
- Opposite Day: Yotsuba never spent a chapter playing the Opposites Game, not even once.
- Parental Abandonment: As Jumbo puts it, "Yotsuba was an abandoned child"; all Koiwai has said is that while he was traveling overseas for his work, he found himself taking care of her. Yotsuba herself remembers only living with her adoptive grandmother and, before that, on an island that's "to the left". The Ayases have no idea what she means, either.
- Parental Favoritism: More than either of her older sisters, Ena is Daddy's little girl.
- Pet Monstrosity: For whatever reason, Fuuka gets Ena a crocodile when she finds a small hamster in a prototype chapter.
- Pet the Dog: In chapter 72, Yanda starts treating Yotsuba better (a little) by letting her play with his bubble toys.
- Playing House: Done by Yotsuba both with Ena and by herself. Also there's Playing Zoo with Jumbo.
- Plummet Perspective: When Yotsuba drops Juralumin from the hot-air balloon. "IT LANDED ON ITS FEET!"
- Poke the Poodle: When Yotsuba is trick-or-treating at Miura's place and Miura's mum subverts her expectations by asking for a trick, Yotsuba... flips their shoes upside down.
- Potty Emergency / Potty Failure: Suggested by Yotsuba when Koiwai bends over to grab his wallet and finds he left it at home.
- Protagonist Title: Little Yotsuba who is, of course, the main protagonist of Yotsuba.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Yotsuba, when she's on the verge of tears or particularly amused by something.