Yotsuba & sunflowers
(on the cover of volume 1 of Yotsuba&!)
|Created by||Kiyohiko Azuma|
|Relatives||Yousuke Koiwai (adopted father)|
Yotsuba Koiwai (小岩井よつば Koiwai Yotsuba), also known as just Yotsuba (よつば), is a fictional character and the main protagonist in the comedy manga series Yotsuba&!, as well as the one-shot manga "Try! Try! Try!", both by Kiyohiko Azuma. As the title character of the series and almost every chapter, Yotsuba is usually the focus of each episode; most stories revolve around her meeting, and often childishly misunderstanding, a new concept or activity indicated in the chapter title. She is noted for her childish energy, unusual naiveté, and iconic appearance.
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Appearance and personality
Yotsuba is drawn as a small girl with green hair done in four pigtails, giving her somewhat the appearance of her namesake, a four-leaf clover (四葉のクローバー yotsuba no kurōbā). She has a carefree and energetic personality, taking delight in simple matters even as she learns about all manner of things in her daily life. In Japanese, Yotsuba's dialogue is written without kanji, making it seem simpler and more childlike, and in a typeface that gives the impression of speaking with high intensity. Her energy is noted by other characters, especially members of the neighboring Ayase family. Her father says of her carefree nature, "She can find happiness in anything. Nothing in this world can get her down." However, when deeply frightened or upset, she does cry, and she has an unexplained fear of anything resembling a bullseye.
At the start of the series, Yotsuba is shown as having very little knowledge of the world around her, even for a young child. Things such as swings, doorbells, cicadas, and air conditioners all fascinate and confuse her, although she is not perturbed by her ignorance. She occasionally mispronounces new words and creates neologisms, such as "Yotsubox" (よつばこ Yotsubako) as a portmanteau of "Yotsuba's Box", and often repeats, in incongruous ways, phrases spoken by adult characters around her. Yotsuba is able to slowly sound out writing in hiragana, and is praised for this by her father's friend Jumbo, but cannot correctly read a clock. She is frequently shown drawing, though she is not as good an artist as she thinks she is, and she is an excellent swimmer.
The series provides few details about her life before its start. She is an adopted child, with her birthplace unknown to the reader, although she claims she's from an island "to the left." Koiwai, Yotsuba's adopted father, says he met her as an orphan in a foreign country and before he knew it he was raising her as his own; she is sometimes taken for a foreigner by strangers. When asked about her mother, she doesn't understand the question, and she gets confused by the concept of having two sets of grandparents. Before moving to her current home, Yotsuba lived in the country with Koiwai and his mother. She initially claims she is six years old, but her father later corrects this, saying she is in fact five years old.
The character of Yotsuba is cited by reviewers as one of the key appeals of Yotsuba&!, especially her energy, enthusiasm, and sense of wonder. For example, one wrote, "Yotsuba’s wide-eyed awe at each discovery, from the idea of a milkman to learning how to catch fish, is both inspiring and infectious. You want to see what happens next, because she continually comes across as genuine without turning into cloying." A reviewer at Anime News Network wrote, "What is really special about Yotsuba, though, is that newness with which she, as a child, sees the world. That the manga allows us to glimpse the world through those same eager eyes is what gives it appeal far beyond its humor." Johanna Draper Carlson, long-time comics reviewer for Publishers Weekly, said that "Yotsuba is a sponge of a character, with infinite possibility as she learns about life. Watching her do so is both fun and funny, and the way she finds enjoyment in everything is inspirational. It creates an infectious feeling of shared joy in the reader." Another claimed that "Yotsuba Koiwai's adventures are ... a lucid and charming look at the world through a child's eyes, as she gets into scrapes that remind us all of our own childhoods (if only through manga-tinted glasses)."
Reviewers often describe Azuma's depiction of her as realistic, especially compared to depictions of children in other manga and anime. One review claimed that "Yotsuba in particular is amusing, because she acts and speaks with that peculiar mix of honesty, immediacy, and childish logic that only young children seem to possess ... Yotsuba isn't a silent, simpering sweetie-pie, she acts like a real five-year-old." On the other hand, Tom Spurgeon claimed Yotsuba is "an idealized kid of that early age, retaining a wide-eye wonder and furious energy, minus the things that crop up at that age like cruelty and deception" and a reviewer in Newtype USA said that "Her hijinks are sweetly innocent, like a cuter, more naїve version of Dennis the Menace minus the 'menace'."
In other media
- The popular English-language imageboard 4chan, which is known in Japanese as "Yotsuba Channel", adopted Yotsuba Koiwai as an unofficial mascot: the site logo and icon at one point consisted of four leaves positioned identically to her distinctive four green pigtails, and she appears in the HTTP 404 message (leading to the nickname of "404 Girl"), banned user messages, banner ads, and logos. The software the site runs on is code-named Yotsuba.
- In the Korean MMORPG MapleStory, Yotsuba's hairstyle can be obtained in a salon located in a town called Zipangu (an archaic name for Japan).
- She appears on the ending part of the spin-off anime series Nyanbo!, based on the Danbo character that appears in one chapter of the Yotsuba&! manga.
- In the anime series Eromanga Sensei, she is seen within the background alongside a Danbo.
- Chad Clayton. "Yotsuba&! vol. 1". Anime Jump!. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
- Greg McElhatton. "Yotsuba&! Vol. 1". Read About Comics. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
- Tom Spurgeon. "Yotsuba&! Vol. 4". The Comics Reporter. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
- Aoki, Deb (17 September 2009). "Yen Press Explains Danbo vs. Cardbo and Other Yotsuba&! Manga Mysteries". About.com. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
- Mentioned by Asagi in chapters 3 and 62, Fuka in chapter 13, and Mrs. Ayase in chapter 14; in Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). Yotsuba&!. Volume 1. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0317-1. and Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). Yotsuba&!. Volume 2. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0318-8.
- Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). "Chapter 7: Yotsuba & Rain". Yotsuba&!. Volume 1. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0317-1.
- For example, in Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). "Chapter 13: Yotsuba & the Frog". Yotsuba&!. Volume 2. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0318-8.
- Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). "Chapter 5: Yotsuba & Shopping". Yotsuba&!. Volume 1. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0317-1. and Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). "Chapter 13: Yotsuba & the Frog". Yotsuba&!. Volume 2. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0318-8.
- Swings: chapter 1; doorbells: chapters 2 and 4; cicadas: chapters 6, 24, and 27; air conditioners: chapter 3; in Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). Yotsuba&!. Volume 1. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0317-1. and Azuma, Kiyohiko (2007). Yotsuba&!. Volume 4. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0345-4.
- Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). "Chapter 8: Yotsuba & Drawing". Yotsuba&!. Volume 2. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0318-8.
- Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). "Chapter 12: Yotsuba & Pools". Yotsuba&!. Volume 2. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0318-8.
- As reported by Ena Ayase in Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). "Chapter 14: Asagi & Souvenirs". Yotsuba&!. Volume 2. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0318-8.
- Azuma, Kiyohiko (2005). "Chapter 17: Yotsuba & Flowers". Yotsuba&!. Volume 3. ADV Manga. ISBN 978-1-4139-0329-4.
- Azuma, Kiyohiko (2006). "Chapter 36: Yotsuba & the Bicycle". Yotsuba&!. Volume 6 (in Japanese). Mediaworks. ISBN 978-4-8402-3702-4.
- Greg McElhatton. "Yotsuba&! Vol. 4". Read About Comics. Retrieved 2007-09-20.
- Carl Kimlinger (2008-02-09). "Review: Yotsuba&! GN 5". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- Carlson, Johanna Draper (28 July 2008). "*Yotsuba&! — Recommended Series". Comics Worth Reading. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
Almost everything is a new experience for her, and her enthusiasm provides the appeal of the stories. Her wide-eyed innocence and seemingly inexhaustible energy makes for charming misunderstandings and comedy.
- Carlo Santos (2007-11-27). "RIGHT TURN ONLY!! - Society for the Study of Really Awesome Endings". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
- Johnston, Chris (June 2005). "Yotsuba&! Volume 1: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic". Newtype USA. 4 (6): 162.
- "4chan.org FAQ". Retrieved 2007-09-05.
- "Zipangu beauty parlor". Archived from the original on 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2007-09-06.