I honestly find it easier to write negative reviews than positive ones, because when I love a book intensely it’s hard to come up with something beyond “I love this! Read it!” But I will do my best to get across why you should spend some time in the world of Yotsuba&!. This series follows an extremely energetic 5-year old, the titular Yotsuba, and her adventures. In the first volume, she and her dad move into a new home and get to know their neighbors. I think what sets this manga apart for me is the realism and humor in its portrayal of both childhood and parenting simultaneously. Azuma has a pitch-perfect eye for both the child’s point of view and the adults reacting to the same situation, which leads to great layering within the scenes. Yotsuba is also just a very appealing main character. She is full of energy and fun while also having tantrums and needing to learn lessons like don’t lie about breaking a bunch of dishes.
The art is really just perfect, and Azuma is a master on the peak of his game here. It’s pretty rare for me to laugh out loud at something I’m reading, and at least twice when I was reading this series I laughed at length. For someone who doesn’t laugh out loud at comedy shows or while watching Monty Python, even though I’m finding it funny, that’s an accomplishment on the part of the creator’s skill at getting the physical comedy across. I also really love the warm heart of this series and the parental bond between Yotsuba and her single adoptive dad — as well as the extended found family that surrounds them, in the form of the next door family, her grandma, and her dad’s friends, as well as the people she meets when she wanders off and charms them. (I could write a side essay about my complicated feelings about the mysterious adoption, but that’s a whole other review.)
Five stars, I love this series and will keep re-reading it for life. No real warnings, this is the rare series that a child and adult can both read and enjoy.