Follow TV Tropes


Manga / Yotsuba&!

Go To

Today is always the most enjoyable day!

Yotsuba&! (Yotsuba to! in Japanese) is an ongoing Slice of Life comedy manga by Kiyohiko Azuma, creator of the acclaimed Azumanga Daioh, first starting serialization in 2003, just under a year after Azumanga Daioh finished its run.

It stars a cheerful, energetic 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. The odd title comes from how every chapter (but one) 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.


Yotsuba&! started life as a series of one-shots released in 1998 under the name Try! Try! Try!. These comics were largely the same as the serialized series, but with some significant differences in character designs and personalities. After writing Azumanga Daioh from 1999 to 2002, Azuma decided to revisit the setting he created earlier, tweaking the characters and slowly refining his style. The series has been described by one reviewer as "printed joy" and rightly so. Azuma manages to create a series that's both feel-good happy and side-splittingly hilarious. Not for nothing is the series motto "Enjoy Everything."

Fifteen volumes have been released thus far in Japan, as of March 2021. Yotsuba&! has an irregular publishing schedule, as some years have passed where as few as four chapters were released due to Azuma's method of authoring, where chapters only make it once he has had a fruitful idea to put on paper. His meticulous artwork, often coming close to resembling real-life photographs, is another factor in the long delays between chapters. Volumes of the manga are released every 2-3 years.note 


Despite its popularity, the series is unlikely to receive an animated adaptation, with Azuma himself explaining his belief that Yotsuba isn't well-suited to an animated format. It does, however, have an anime spinoff, Nyanbo!, featuring catlike creatures of the same species as Yotsuba's cardboard robot friend, Danbo. Yotsuba makes a non-speaking cameo in the end credits of each episode.

This manga provides 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 supervision. The latter one is even invoked when Dad asks everyone to hide when she wanders off to teach her a lesson about getting lost.
  • Animation Anatomy Aging: The rule of thumb seems to be that the older a character is, the more realistically they're drawn. Yotsuba herself has an almost Thick-Line Animation-esque appearance at times with simplified "clumpy" hair; teenagers like Fuuka and Shimau are mildly stylized, but have detailed hair and smaller eyes; adults like Koiwai and Asagi have even smaller eyes and sharper features. Yotsuba's grandma, on the extreme end of the scale, is drawn incredibly realistically.
  • Art Evolution:
    • The style essentially starts where Azumanga Daioh left off and evolves from there. 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 rounded ponytails. By around Chapter 53, the shape of her eyes have changed still more, along with some of her casual expressions.
    • By Volume 6, characters no longer have any whites in their 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.
  • Bland-Name Product: Averted several times, more often than not — for example, Koiwai gets a package from, 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.
  • Comic-Book Time: Although the story is about Yotsuba slowly growing up, with even chapters taking place on a specific date on the calendar, the setting is always set in the present. This allows for things to exist in the story that would not have existed in 2003 when the manga launched, such as digital SLR cameras, the Nintendo DS, and recently, smartphones.
  • 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.
  • Continuity Overlap: There are many references to Azumanga Daioh, to the point that it's implied to take place in the same continuity.
    • Fuuka once wears a T-shirt with Chiyo-chichi's picture on it (causing Miura to comment on her poor fashion sense), and additionally has a Chiyo-chichi plushie in her room and a Chiyo-chichi figure among the "weird" things attached to her purse.
    • At the town fireworks show, a Nekokoneko doll is featured among the prizes at a ring-toss booth.
    • Jumbo's Imagine Spot in Chapter 22 has Miura beg her father to go to Magical Land, an amusement park featured in Azumanga Daioh.
    • The dog at the ranch visited in Chapter 48 strongly resembles Tadakichi-san.
    • In Chapter 86, Yotsuba speaks to a girl with a large ribbon on her bag; the girl is wearing the Azumanga Daioh high school uniform.
    • Azumanga Daioh itself returns the favor by having Tomo wear a "Kodomo Usagi" shirt in one Supplementary Lessons chapter (written for the series' tenth anniversary in 2009), the same kind that Yotsuba normally wears.
  • 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 having a cell phone, 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; however, 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.
    • Everyone has this reaction upon seeing Yotsuba's Halloween pumpkin costume; there's a running gag through the chapter where characters drop what they're doing to take pictures of her.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Chapter 14 ("Asagi & Souvenirs") focuses entirely on the Ayase family, and Yotsuba doesn't even appear until the final page.
  • 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: After his debut, 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: With one exception, the title of each chapter of Yotsuba&! follows the structure of "Yotsuba & [insert word here]".
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: When Yotsuba first enters her Princess Phase upon reading a story book about Cinderella, she initially thinks that princesses are made up. Her father has to confirm that princesses are in fact real.
  • 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, the official word 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.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: When Yotsuba is feeling down about the loss of her teddy bear's ability to say "Mweeeeh", she doesn't respond to Yanda when he hits her in the back of the head with a paper airplane, turns her head when he tries to see her face, merely falls over when given a gentle shove, and does nothing when he pinches her cheek. She struggles to keep from laughing when he has her look at him with tissues stuck in his nostrils, but he finally makes her laugh by tickling her until she yells at him to knock it off.
  • Funny Background Event: While Koiwai talks to his mother on the phone in Chapter 86, he places his ladle (he was cooking when the phone rang) in a container to scratch Yotsuba's back with his free hand and proceeds to forget about it until he goes back to the kitchen to cook.
  • Genki Girl: Yotsuba, a cheerful and energetic child. As Asagi puts it, Yotsuba's default mode of travel is running.
  • 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 plush 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 her usual three times.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: Used as an excuse by Yotsuba: "A lying bug made me do it."
  • Gratuitous English: Yotsuba likes to sometimes insert random English into her conversations. One such example is Yanda tries to join her on her farm trip and she tells him in English, "NO," much to the older man's confusion. (In the official English translation, this is changed to her spelling the word out.)
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Similar to her obsession with Gratuitous English, Yotsuba also develops a fixation on saying "Olé!"
  • HA HA HA—No: Jumbo hears that Miura can't take vacations in the summer due to her father's work; feeling sorry for her, he invites her on a fishing trip to give her some fond memories. However, during the trip, it's clarified that Miura's father takes time off during the fall, and she's actually going to Hawaii. Jumbo laughs heartily upon hearing this and says how nice that sounds, then abruptly stops and glares at Miura asking her what she's trying to pull.
  • Happy Dance:
    • Done by Koiwai with Yotsuba as backup when he completes a work 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: Every chapter is titled "Yotsuba & __", with Chapter 14 ("Asagi's Souvenirs") as the Odd Name Out.
  • Image Song: Two soundtrack CDs for the series have been released, both entirely instrumental and composed by the Kuricorder Quartet (who previously wrote the soundtrack for Azumanga Daioh's anime). 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.
  • Joshikousei: Fuuka and her classmates who are the only ones seen in their uniform in the series.
  • Kawaiiko: Yotsuba dressed up as the Flower Cupid looks ridiculously adorable, with her wearing a dress with wings and randomly giving out flowers to people just to be nice. Subverted when Yotsuba reveals she's packing heat.
  • 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; Yotsuba has one for herself, naturally, as does General Winter in the winter album.
  • Long-Runners: The series started in 2003 and has been going on continuously since then, a sharp contrast to the mere three years that Azuma's previous series lasted.
  • Lost in Translation: Several jokes, not surprisingly.
    • One concerns Yotsuba explaining what her dad's job is, when she says he 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 in the localization when Jumbo refers to Torako as "she" when looking at her photos of the hot air balloon event.
    • The joke behind Shimau'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 Shimau. The official English publication 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 combining 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.
  • Mad at a Dream: "#56: Schedules" opens with Yotsuba having a nightmare in which Yousuke eats a large portion of a bag of her candy. When he won't stop, Yotsuba begins to bawl and float up and out of their house. She wakes up crying and chews him out for it. Even after he explains to her that it was a nightmare and proves it by getting her to see that it's all still there, she still demands "Even if it was a dream, say you're sorry!!"
  • Malaproper: Yotsuba often flubs words or even names if she doesn't quite understand them, which then becomes the basis of many gags. This is exemplified with her teddy bear Duralumin, who shares a name with a metal alloy but is really Yotsuba's mispronunciation of Ena's stuffed bear Julietta.note 
  • Mama Bear: With a real (toy) bear cub, even. Don't get between Yotsuba and Duralumin.
  • 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 a pair 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 an owl that fixates on her.
  • One of the Kids: Most of the adults, especially Yanda and Jumbo, go through great lengths to play along with Yotsuba's antics. However, they are perfectly capable of behaving like normal adults when the kids aren't around.
  • Opposite Day: Yotsuba never spent a chapter playing the Opposites Game, not even once. (In Yotsuba's Opposites Game, that translates to her having indeed play the game in one chapter, much to the confusion of her father and friends who look uncomfortable when she starts calling her delicious dinner "yucky".)
  • Painting the Medium: Yotsuba speaks entirely in hiragana, the most basic form of Japanese writing and the only one she can read; everyone else's dialogue has the expected amount of kanji for the shounen audience. Yotsuba also frequently gets a big, loud, bold font that neatly represents how she talks and acts.
  • 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.
  • Playing House: Done by Yotsuba both with Ena and by herself. Also there's Playing Zoo with Jumbo.
  • Plummet Perspective: When Yotsuba drops Duralumin from a 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.
  • Rain Aura: Used whenever it rains, most prominently in "Yotsuba & Heavy Rain" (Chapter 7) and "Yotsuba & Typhoons" (Chapter 52). The gap between the two is a nice example of the series' Art Evolution; the effect is much more convincing in the latter chapter.
  • Reactive Continuous Scream: In Chapter 13, after Miura scares Yotsuba with a scarecrow costume, Ena scares Miura with a live frog, who backs into Yotsuba, who renews her screaming and tears Ena's favorite teddy bear, causing her to scream.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Yotsuba goes on a truly adorable one of these (with a water pistol) after Koiwai lets her watch one too many gangster movies.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: A variant is played by Yotsuba and Koiwai with the loser getting swatted with a rolled-up newspaper if they don't cover their head with a basin in time. Also, in the camping installment, this is used to determine who gets a turn in a hammock after Jumbo. Yotsuba wins, but the hammock is big enough that they decide that Ena and Miura can get in as well.
  • Running Gag: A couple.
    • Koiwai being pounced on the chest or stomach while resting/lying down by Yotsuba, with one time by Jumbo. He understandably takes a while to recover from that.
    • Fuuka's apparently strange taste in T-shirts.
    • Fuuka getting in awkward situations with Koiwai and others mistaking them to have something going on (Played for Laughs).
    • Women (Ayase or otherwise) being startled by the looming height of Jumbo.
    • Yotsuba becoming excited and then falling on her face after running around. It gets to the point where Asagi accurately predicts when Yotsuba is about to fall during the balloon festival.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Koiwai tries to do this with Yotsuba when he catches her lying repeatedly.
  • Scary Scarecrows: Yotsuba is terrified of these, even though the scarecrow in question looks more like a bullseye target than a traditional Western scarecrow. (Given she's also frightened by the wide-eyed owl at the zoo, it may be the resemblance to a giant eyeball that scares her.) Miura tries to prank Yotsuba by pretending to be one, with results that were, well, let's just say it worked a little too well.
  • Scenery Porn: Plenty of lavishly-detailed backgrounds of Japanese suburbia. The countryside gets the same detailed treatment during the camping arc.
  • School Festival: The Koiwais go to one at Fuuka's school.
  • Second Episode Morning: At the start of Chapter 2, Yotsuba wakes up confused until she remembers she and her father moved to their new home yesterday.
  • Second-Face Smoke: Torako does this to Yotsuba in their first encounter.
  • See You in Hell: Hilariously used by Youtsuba herself as part of her pretend Roaring Rampage of Revenge. (She presumably got the line from one of the gangster movies her dad let her watch.)
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Chatting with Yotsuba sometimes turns into this as her energetic little mind bounces from one thing to another.
  • Sempai/Kohai: Dad's kohai Yanda, whom Dad lets visit even though Yotsuba instantly hates him with a hatey five-year-old hate.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Chapter 63, Yotsuba and her dad play a game on a swing that involves kicking off one of their shoes as far as they can, which is reminiscent of Osaka's famous weather prediction in the Azumanga Daioh anime.
    • One chapter, Yotsuba watches Pythagora Switch on the TV. In a later chapter, a "father switch" from the show is on the kitchen table; it eventually shows up in the Yotsubox. (This is probably also a shout out to the Kuricorder Quartet, as they did the music to Pythagora Switch, as well as Azumanga Daioh and the two Yotsuba&! image albums.)
    • Yotsuba makes a sly shoutout to Gamera in the lead-up to the balloon festival.
    • Duralumin was the villain in Osamu Tezuka's classic manga Princess Knight.
    • In Chapter 86, Yotsuba mentions wanting to sing to Kyary Pamyupamyu with her grandma.
    • In Chapter 87, Yotsuba draws a picture of Pretty Cure and shows her grandma. She describes it as "fighting with lots of dogs".
    • During her trip to Tokyo, Yotsuba wears a Miffy backpack. Miffy's creator, Dick Bruna, had died a few months before those chapters were published.
    • Still in the Tokyo arc, when she is taken to a fancy hotel restaurant's all-you-can-eat buffet, Yotsuba is absolutely flabbergasted with so many options before her, leading her to worry about eating too much and turning into a pig like Spirited Away.
  • Shown Their Work: Comes up in the most unusual places. The bears in the teddy-bear shop are based on actual designs. The ridiculously-expensive Steiff one even has the trademark button (the one Yotsuba chooses to be Duralumin, however, is generic).
  • Shrines and Temples: Both of them: Yotsuba visits the grounds of a hilltop shrine a couple times and participates in her town's autumn danjiri festival, pulling a portable shrine through the streets. Koiwai takes Yotsuba to a temple and uses a guardian niō statue to scare the "lying bug" out of her.
  • Sick Episode: Yotsuba is down with a fever in one chapter, on the day she is supposed to visit a farm, no less. Meltdown ensues. Fortunately for her, they get to go to the farm later.
  • Silent Scenery Panel: The manga uses these quite often to establish the scenery. Sometimes they only include a tiny fragment of the sky or a close-up shot of some leaves in a tree. They are usually drawn with near-photographic realism.
  • Sink-or-Swim Fatherhood: Koiwai, a bachelor with no parenting experience who started "raising Yotsuba before he knew it" after he found her in another country. And he has risen admirably to the task.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: A couple of such relationships occur:
    • The title character has Yanda, whom she instantly hates with a hatey five-year-old hate, but other characters merely find annoying. It doesn't help that Yanda takes a childish glee in figuratively (and literally) yanking her pigtails.
    • Jumbo almost has this sort of relationship with Miura, of all people. At one point, he flies to Hawaii just to spite her.
  • Skintone Sclerae: The cast gained these in color illustrations around Volume 6 or so.
  • Sleep Cute: Yotsuba, Koiwai, Ena, and Fuuka, on the train back home, after a long day at the beach.
  • Slice of Life: Each chapter is an episode in Yotsuba's literal daily life — as in taking place on sequential, or nearly sequential, days. The Other Wiki details the exact calendar.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: While not as idealistic as, say, ARIA, the series doesn't even come within sight of cynicism. For one thing, while Japanese children are somewhat more free-range than in the States, Yotsuba still gets away with a lot. That it's a Crowning Series of Heartwarming topped with Crowning Sprinkles of Funny doesn't hurt.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Why Yotsuba thinks Torako is awesome, even though her father told her that smoking is bad. Then again, Yotsuba claims that Koiwai used to smoke...
  • Something Person: Koiwai sometimes transforms into Yotsuba's nemesis, Boxerman — by putting a pair of boxer shorts over his head. His special ability is being unable to tell up from down. "Curse you, Boxerman!" After Yotsuba sees men in fundoshi at a festival, Boxerman acquires a rival, Bare-butt-man. Still later, Koiwai becomes yet another foe of Yotsuba's, Pancake-Loving Man.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Azuma's previous work, Azumanga Daioh. While both comics are Slice of Life series featuring an elementary school-age girl with distinctive pigtails as the central focus, Yotsuba&! is a more slow-burning series than its predecessor (in part due to it being a more traditional long-form series versus the yonkoma format of Azumanga), with greater focus on emotional experiences and atmosphere, and a much subtler style of humor than Azumanga's more traditional setup-punchline format. Azumanga has its sentimental moments, but they normally take a backseat to its comedic writing, which also tends to be raunchier given its high school setting.
  • Spit Take: Yotsuba's dad does a big one when Yotsuba hands him "milk" she made with toothpaste and water.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Miura and her mom look very similar, lampshaded by Yotsuba and later confirmed by Koiwai and Jumbo. Miura herself disagrees.
    Yotsuba: She's a giant Miura.
  • "Super Sentai" Stance: Parodied with Yotsuba, Fuuka and Koiwai in the Beach Episode.
  • Sweat Drop: Another thing that happens to just about everyone around Yotsuba.
  • Sweet Tooth: Mrs. Ayase has one. Asagi also qualifies, which sometimes leads to fights over sweet food between her and her mother. And of course there's Yotsuba, a given since she is five.
  • Take That!: One chapter features Yotsuba attempting to imitate a "moe" pose in an attempt to further boost her attempts at asking Kowai to buy her something at a store, only for him to immediately call the act "sickening," a visible jab at the moe cliches as a whole that Azumanga Daioh previously became associated with. invoked
  • Taking the Bullet: Parodied when Koiwai protects Yotsuba from Jumbo dressed up as a tengu. "DAAAAADDYYYYYYYY!"
  • Tengu: Yotsuba is terrified of the tengu attendants at a cart-pulling festival, even though she more-or-less understands they're humans in masks — and even ten-year old Ena also finds them startling, despite teasing Yotsuba about it. The scariest is Jumbo, whom Yotsuba calls the "boss tengu".
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Asagi takes down water-pistol-assassin Yotsuba with a single squirt between the eyes...then shoots her several more times...then pours the rest of the water on her.
  • This Is a Drill: Spoken word-for-word by Koiwai, as he shows Yotsuba a cordless drill.
  • Thunder Shock: Several times, for example when Yotsuba and Yanda are arguing about eating poop.
  • Tin Can You Hear Me Now: Ena and Miura teach Yotsuba to make a paper-cup telephone, which she starts carrying with her as her "cell phone".
  • Toilet Humour
    • In general, mentioning a bodily function makes Yotsuba burst into the giggle-fits you'd expect from a five year old.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: All three Ayase girls have a female friend with whom they form this dynamic.
    • Asagi and Torako is the most classic example. Asagi has long hair, wears girly clothes, and is quite good with kids. Torako is an aloof chain-smoker with Boyish Short Hair, wears T-shirts and jeans, and can easily be mistaken for a guy.
    • Ena and Miura seem like another classic example, with Ena being the girly girl who loves playing with stuffed animals and wears dresses and Miura being the mischievous tomboy whom Jumbo initially mistook for a boy. However, Miura is easily disgusted or even frightened by insects, slimy creatures and blood, while Ena is surprisingly okay with them and even thinks that giant frogs are cute.
    • Not as obvious as the other two, but Fuuka's friend Hiwatari (Miss Stake/Shimau) also qualifies as the tomboy in their relationship. While Fuuka is self-conscious about her appearance and tries to look good whenever she goes out, Shimau is far less so, and dresses in a rather unflattering outfit when inviting Fuuka and Yotsuba out to collect chestnuts, prioritizing function over form.
  • Too Smart for Strangers: Yotsuba with Fuuka, before they are introduced and no longer strangers.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Yotsuba on Jumbo, with his shirt serving as trenchcoat.
  • Try Not to Die: Played with — Jumbo tells Yotsuba this when she heads next door on her Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and with her knowing the cultural trappings but not their true meanings, she replies, "Even if I die, I'll come back alive."
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Yotsuba has seen far too many gangster movies than is good for a girl with her imagination.
  • Very Special Episode: Averted. Sure, Yotsuba learns life lessons, but they are ordinary, everyday life lessons about things like not riding off on her bicycle without permission, how to flip pancakes, that she shouldn't lie, and how noodles get made. The tone of those chapters is just as light-hearted and hilarious as every other.
  • Vague Age: Yotsuba is 5 and Fuuka is 17, but the rest of the cast's ages are vague at best. Kiyohiko Azuma stated in an interview that Koiwai and Jumbo are in their early thirties, and Yanda in his late twenties. Asagi and Torako are in university, so they're likely around their early twenties, though their exact year is unknown. Ena's age is slightly more clear, as she's stated to be in the fourth grade, meaning she's either 9 or 10 (and Miura is presumably around the same age).
  • Visible Silence: Extended ellipses and question-mark dialog galore, often in response to Yotsuba's latest misinterpretation. Once Yotsuba and her father have an exchange of question-mark dialog, as he wonders what she's wondering about.
  • Visual Pun: In "Yotsuba & Lying", Koiwai takes her out while the town plays a jingle telling all the good kids to go home. Yotsuba, who lied the whole chapter, is the only child left on panel, singling her out as the bad kid.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In "Yotsuba & Pizza", after she eats too much. It's covered by having her back to the camera.
  • Water Guns and Balloons: If a five-year-old and two adults with childish interests house-sit for you, you might end up with an indoor water balloon fight.
  • Wearing It All Wrong: Yotsuba's father will occasionally entertain her by throwing a pair of shorts on his head and declaring himself "Boxerman".
    "Which way is up? Which way is down? I do not know!"
  • Wham Line: In Chapter 6, when Ena and Fuuka ask about Yotsuba's mother (since they've only seen her father up to this point), Jumbo casually responds, "Oh, she was an abandoned child, so she doesn't have a mum." The two girls are horrified by this revelation. The next chapter has Koiwai confirm that this is true, clarifying that Yotsuba is not blood-related to him and was adopted from another country.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: A few locations characters live(d) in are not made clear.
    • The suburban setting of the series is not clearly defined, being something of a stand-in for suburbs everywhere in Japan. For what it's worth, the locations are drawn from photographic references taken around the author's home in Hyogo Prefecture, and the presence of a Danjiri Festival in autumn places it pretty concretely in the Kansai region. However, characters generally speak Standard Japanese, though that means little in fictional works not set in a concrete location; the fact that Fuuka's use of Tohoku dialect in Chapter 67 confuses Yotsuba makes it pretty clear that we're not in northern Japan. One arc indicates they're far enough from Tokyo that they have to take two trains to get there, and the rock hunting chapter also confirms they live about an hour and a half away from Chigasaki, Kanagawa, by car. Otherwise, the question more-or-less remains open.
    • Before moving to the neighborhood, Yotsuba and Koiwai lived with his mother. Her home is not confirmed but is most likely somewhere in the Kansai region (or at the least Koiwai and his family are from there), as when Grandma visits, it's mentioned she has traces of the Kansai accent, making it likely that Yotsuba picked much of her vocabulary from her and the area.
    • No one has any idea where Yotsuba was born and/or used to live. All she'll say is that it was "an island to the left". Her father, who found her when travelling overseas, hasn't specified where she came from, either. The Ayases speculate upon this in-universe, with their best guess being Hawaii.
  • Wingding Eyes:
    • Spiral version, when Yotsuba is dizzy or confused.
    • Asagi once got star eyes when Yotsuba headbutted her. Ow.
  • A Wizard Did It: Used as an excuse in "Yotsuba & Lies" when Yotsuba accidentally breaks a teacup.
  • Yonkoma: The "intermission" in Volume 4 comprises four-panel strips of Yotsuba and the Ayase girls in the vein of Azuma's previous series.
  • You Are Grounded: Yotsuba is "dirted" (that is, grounded) for riding her bicycle without permission. Across town. To Fuuka's school. Alone.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Yotsuba's only, and it's green — everyone else's is normal. This ends up being justified with the revelation that Yotsuba was adopted from another country and isn't Kowai's blood daughter; which country she comes from is never elaborated upon (the Ayases' best guess is the United States, specifically Hawaii), but it does explain why Yotsuba is the only character without dark hair.

Alternative Title(s): Yotsubato


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: