Holiday Gift Guide: ‘Yotsuba&!’ Manga
When it comes to the holiday gift-giving season, comic book readers are notoriously difficult to shop for. I mean, most of us are down at the shop buying our favorite stuff every single week, so when the time comes for people who like us to get us something we want, well, a lot of times we already have it. That’s why we’re stepping in with a public service, bringing you comics-related items sure to make the season brighter, whether you’re browsing for a gift or just looking for something to drop hints about so that you don’t get stuck with a random assortment of back issues again.
If you're looking for pretty much anyone who enjoys comics as a medium, then you might want to just go ahead and get them the best possible comic: Kiyohiko Azuma's Yotsuba&!
ITEM: Yotsuba&! Volumes 1 - 12
AVAILABILITY: Around $10 each on Amazon
The word you're going to hear most often when people start discussing Yotsuba&! is "charming." You might get "delightful" in there at some time too and, if you're talking to me, "the best manga ever printed" thrown in for good measure, but there's really no better way to describe it -- it's absolutely, irrefutably charming.
If you haven't read it, you might still be familiar with creator Kiyohiko Azuma from his previous work, Azumanga Daioh, but really, if you were a fan of Azumanga, then odds are pretty good that you've already got a stack of Yotsuba paperbacks within ten feet of you right now. It's a very simple story, following the everyday adventures of Yotsuba, a little girl who takes endless joy in her ordinary life alongside her deadpan dad and a cast of friendly, somewhat neurotic neighbors. It's a cliché to say that Azuma manages to make the mundane extraordinary, but that's exactly what happens here, and it's beautiful, frequently hilarious, and, well, charming.
It's tempting to say that Yotsuba makes a great gift for any comics reader, but if someone's a die-hard superhero fan, they might not be too keen on the story of a five year-old girl learning what air conditioners are or picking out a teddy bear. If, however, your gifting target likes stuff from multiple genres, even a little bit, then I can almost guaranteeYotsuba will warm their heart. There are currently 12 volumes out (including the latest, in which Yotsuba paints a table without permission), but the first one's in print for anyone who hasn't read it.
And hey, if you're going for someone who already is a fan, you can always go the extra mile and snag the pricey Yotsuba action figure.