[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 8 ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 8
Series: Yotsuba&! #8
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Opposites

Yotsuba & the Restaurant

Yotsuba & the Cultural Festival

Yotsuba & the Typhoon

Yotsuba & Watching the House

Yotsuba & the Festival

Yotsuba & Acorns

My Thoughts:

I read this sunday. I was feeling tired, stressed out and sick (probably from stressing out) and reading this was like taking a huge horse tranquilizer. By the end of the volume I was totally chill. I had been debating about whether I wanted to read this feeling the way I was but am I glad I did.

The picture I included this time was from the Festival Chapter. Yotsuba is helping pull a shrine and they take a break so she and her dad and some others are looking at the other portable shrines when Yotsuba sees the sumo wrestler. I remember laughing my head off the first time I saw this page and man, it hasn’t stopped being funny to me. The manga-ka has totally caught that innocent yet bold spirit of being a 5 year old.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 7 ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 7
Series: Yotsuba&! #7
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Telephones

Yotsuba & Respect for the Aged Day

Yotsuba & Fever

Yotsuba & Patissier

Yotsuba & Errands

Yotsuba & Taking Off

Yotsuba & The Ranch

My Thoughts:

Some of these chapters are longer than others. In Telephones, for example, Yotsuba spends the whole day playing string&cup telephone with the neighbors. It ends with a picture of Fuka (the 16/17 year old daughter) talking to Yotsuba’s dad through a window and her older college age sister walking in on her. The facial expressions are priceless and the manga-ka makes it crystal clear, without writing a word, that Asagi (the older sister) thinks shenanigans are going on. It’s just too funny.

Then you have chapters like Respect for the Aged Day where Yotsuba talks with her grandma on the phone for about 1 page.

The overarching theme for this book was visiting a farm. Yotsuba loves milk so much so her dad decides to take her to a farm. Jumbo is their transportation and Yotsuba’s Nemesis, Yando, invites himself along.

I’d like to talk about Yando for a minute. He doesn’t seem to get along with anybody so I’ve wondered how he’s stayed friends with Yotsuba’s dad. He and Jumbo definitely don’t get along and while Yotsuba’s dad is pretty laid back about him, Yando seems to try to push his buttons whenever he can. Maybe he’s just “one of those” friends? Whatever the case may be, and despite me not liking him, he does provide the necessary “edge” to this series.

The picture I’ve included this time was from the chapter where Fuka and her friend are practicing making cakes. They’re not happy with how it looks, so they let Yotsuba decorate it so they can tell their family it wasn’t them that decorated it. Yotsuba goes all out, hence her decision to include the last egg 😀

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 6 ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 6
Series: Yotsuba&! #6
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 208
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Recycling

Yotsuba & The Bicycle

Yotsuba & Pottering Around

Yotsuba & Friday

Yotsuba & Milk

Yotsuba & Delivering

Yotsuba & The Bookshelf

My Thoughts:

My reading of Yotsuba has taken on a ritualistic aspect in my life. While these posts go up for Manga Monday, I read them the Saturday before. I wake up, peruse wordpress and deal with the various notifications and new posts. Then I start up Calibre, grab a Pina Colada Bang and sit down on the couch. I open my “Manga” review template in OpenOffice and begin reading.

I fill out each chapter heading in the template as I come to them in the manga and decide which picture I want to include. All the while I’m sipping on cold Bang and reading the antics of Yotsuba. It is soothing, relaxing and something I look forward too. Because I don’t do these every Monday the ritual doesn’t become over used and I can’t accidentally unleash Unspeakable Cosmic Horrors on an unsuspecting world. Of course, maybe a Yotsuba inspired Cosmic Horror wouldn’t be so bad?

Anyway, this volume centers around Yotsuba getting her first bicycle and her adventures. Some good, some bad. Yanda, the Arch Enemy, makes another appearance and Yotsuba enjoys eating her hamburger in his face while he has to make do with instant ramen.

One of the strengths of this manga are the supporting characters. I put this picture of her dad to show what kind of home life Yotsuba is growing up in. He’s super laid back and just is himself. At the same time he’s a very careful father. He’s one of the safety bungees that Yotsuba can bounce off of without ever knowing how close to danger she ever came. It is what you want in a parent.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992 Movie)

I reviewed the story/book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens back in ’13 and it is the basis for this movie. If you don’t know the basic premise of the story, please go read that or look it up on Wikipedia. This review will assume that the reader knows the basic plot to ACC.

First off, besides the Muppets, Michael Caine has the starring role as Ebenezer Scrooge. If a movie has Michael Caine in it, you know it’s going to be a good movie. While fringe nut job yobs might try to present evidence to the contrary, I simply ask my readers, who are you going to trust? Me, or some fringe nut job yob?
Michael Caine = you know you are getting a good movie.

On to the slightly more serious.

The singing. Muppets movies always have singing, whether the audience wants it or not. I’ve resigned myself to this fact and tried to not let it unduly influence me. Of course, just because Michael Caine is a good actor doesn’t mean he’s a good singer. He does take part in one song and I have to admit, he’s not terrible but I think things might have had a bit more glitz if they’d dubbed him over with Michael Jackson, who was still arguably the Prince of Pop in ’92. The message conveyed by the songs are as trite and shallow as you’d expect from a Disney production but really, if you read Dickens’ book, he’s not really that much deeper.
Oh yes, the Missing Song. In the theatres, there is an extra song that was subsequently cut out from all dvd/bluray releases. I personally didn’t miss it but if you’re a completionist, it is supposed to be included in the next “upgrade” to this movie. 4K I believe. Simply one more way for Disney to bend you over and make you think you like it. The picture below shows the type of propaganda Disney promulgates.

On to the good stuff.

If you are a fan of the Muppets and their zaniness, then this is a no-brainer to watch, even if Dickens isn’t your cup of tea. Between Fozziwig (a cute play on Fozzi’s name being used for that character) and his Rubber Chicken Factory to Gonzo playing Charles Dickens (and being distracted by every chicken that walks by) to Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy playing Bob & Mrs Cratchett, you get your fill. While a knowledge of the Muppets isn’t essential, knowing them as The Muppets gives an added dimension to the fun. An example would the single scene where Sam the Eagle is sending a young Scrooge off to his first place of business as an apprentice and rhapsodizes about the the beauty of business. Sam ends it with “…and that is the American Way!”. Gonzo whispers in his ear and Sam immediately says “…and that is the British Way!”. Which is really funny if you know that Sam is the proto-American Super Patriot as a Muppet.

The story proceeds at a rapid pace and almost feels like Scrooge changes for the sake of changing. However, this is in keeping with the original book and shouldn’t surprise anyone. Throw in that this movie was made for a juvenile audience and the pacing is perfectly in line with what out of touch Hollywood Directors think is appropriate for your child. Just don’t expect a deeply thoughtful, insightful and deeply philosophical movie and you should be just fine. You’re in this for the singing, dancing and laughs.

This gets a big fat thumbs up from me.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 5 ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 5
Series: Yotsuba&! #5
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 210
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Cardbo

Yotsuba & Helping

Yotsuba & Yanda

Yotsuba & Stars

Yotsuba & Rain

Yotsuba & Sunny Skies

Yotsuba & the Beach

My Thoughts:

Another great volume. Yotsuba meets her nemesis, Yanda for the first time. While he’s supposed to be a working man, he reacts to Yotsuba at her level. A grown man acting like a 5 year old is amusing for a chapter. Azuma, the manga-ka, realizes when enough is enough and doesn’t try to push it more than that one chapter though. Smart man.

The first chapter deals with Ena and Eimura (neighbor girls) doing a class project where they are creating a robot creature out of cardboard. Yotsuba barges in on them and thinks that Eimura is a real robot. I’ve included the picture that made me laugh the hardest in the volume.

The rest of the chapters were light hearted and fuzzily warm. Perfect to read on a day when it is snowing outside. I have to admit, I am (almost) surprised at just how well this series is standing up to a re-read. Sometimes something is cute because it is new. This is genuinely cute and continues to be so.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 4 ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 4
Series: Yotsuba&! #4
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Challenges

Yotsuba & Fishing

Yotsuba & Dinner

Yotsuba & Bloom of Youth

Yotsuba & Newspapers

Yotsuba & Tsukutsukuboshi

Yotsuba & 4-Panel Manga

My Thoughts:

Last week felt like a cheese grater on my soul kind of week. I went into the weekend with no reserves and not even the ability to process anything emotionally. I was tired and hurting. While I can’t say that reading this miraculously cured all of that, reading this was like putting balm on a hurting wound. It doesn’t heal it, but it makes it feel better and helps with the healing process.

The first chapter is called Yotsuba!& Challenges. In the picture I’ll be showing you can see a fan translated it as “Duels”. Both are correct but I have to admit, I think Duels works better. Yotsuba and her dad are playing rock paper scissors and there is a pot and a rolled up newspaper in between them. Whenever they play rock, paper, scissors, whoever wins has to grab the paper and try to hit the other over the head while the loser has to grab the pot and put it on their head as protection. Yotsuba’s dad cheats outrageously and she gives up in disgust. Then she duels her dad in badminton and eventually her dad and Jumbo duel each other in badminton (hence the racket and birdie in her pocket). It was fantastic.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 3 ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 3
Series: Yotsuba&! #3
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 176
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Gifts

Yotsuba & Asagi

Yotsuba & Flowers

Yotsuba & Obon

Yotsuba & the Elephant

Yotsuba & the Fireworks Display?

Yotsuba & the Fireworks Display!

My Thoughts:

Another completely fantastic entry. I think part of why I enjoy this so much is because Azuma is writing this to amuse his readers and not really bothering with an overarching plot. I can simply put up my mental feet and just be amused with no thought process needed. While I don’t want with every book I read, a couple of times a month is just perfect.

I find it so amusing that Jumbo is using Yotsuba to try to interact with one of the neighbor girls that he’s interested in. And every time it goes wrong and yet he won’t do it himself. It is also extremely understated and doesn’t try to take over. THAT would ruin this.

Azuma simply does a great job of showing every day things, like elephants, through the eyes of a child who has never seen them before. And there is no filter. Man, I love that, it’s hilarious. I think this picture encapsulates this most thoroughly.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 2 ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 2
Series: Yotsuba&! #2
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Drawing

Yotsuba & Revenge

Yotsuba & Cake

Yotsuba & Donmai

Yotsuba & the Pool

Yotsuba & the Frog

Yotsuba & Asagi’s Gifts

My Thoughts:

Ahhh, this was just what I needed. After the previous week having been such a mess, reading this Saturday morning was perfect. I laughed, I laughed and then I laughed some more. Not uproariously, not side-splittingly kind of laughing, but a continual amusement and fluffy kind of laugh.

The above picture is a chapter where Yotsuba is watching a gangster tv show with her dad and Jumbo and sees a gangster kill someone. She then proceeds to squirt gun her dad and Jumbo to death and then switches characters to hunt down the person who killed her beloved dad and friend. She goes next door and kills all of the girls next door, except for the eldest, Asagi, who ends up killing Yotsuba. The chapter ends with Yotsuba admitting to her dad and Jumbo that she failed to avenge them and died. Jumbo moralizes that nothing good ever comes from revenge.

I am finding that Azuma is able to do a ton of world building and character sketches in just a couple of panels. It is rather amazing. It gives the manga a bit of depth that makes it easier to digest. It also makes this re-read possible and future re-reads a real possibility, if not a sure thing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! Vol. 1 ★★★★★


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Yotsuba&! Vol. 1
Series: Yotsuba&! #1
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 227
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

Chapter List:

Yotsuba & Moving

Yotsuba & Manners

Yotsuba & Global Warming

Yotsuba & TV

Yotsuba & Shopping

Yotsuba & Cicadas

Yotsuba & Rain

My Thoughts:

This definitely deserves all the stars. I laughed so many times while re-reading this that it wasn’t funny (ha, get it?).

I think the following page from this volume perfectly encapsulate Yotsuba:

Read right to left

I’ll talk about specifics in later volumes but for now, I just had fun reading this. If you’ve ever wondered about picking up a manga to try, this is the one. Even an old battle hardened, warhammer40K reader like myself finds it irresistibly cute.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Castle in the Air (World of Howl #2) ★★★★★

castleintheair (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Castle in the Air
Series: World of Howl #2
Author: Diana Jones
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: 176
Words: 67K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Castle in the Air follows the adventures of Abdullah, a handsome young carpet salesman from Zanzib, who daydreams constantly about being a stolen prince. One day a strange traveler comes to his stand to sell a magic carpet. During the night, Abdullah goes to sleep on the carpet but wakes up to find himself in a beautiful garden with a young woman. He tells the woman, Flower-in-the-Night, that he is the stolen prince of his daydreams, believing that he is in fact dreaming. Flower-in-the-Night, who has never seen a man other than her father, first believes that Abdullah is a woman, so Abdullah agrees to return the next night with portraits of many men so that she can make a proper comparison. He does so, and Abdullah and Flower-in-the-Night decide to get married.

Abdullah returns the next night, but he arrives just as Flower-in-the-Night is snatched away by a huge flying djinn. Soon after, the Sultan of Zanzib captures Abdullah who then discovers that Flower is actually the Sultan’s daughter. Enraged that his daughter is missing, the Sultan blames Abdullah and throws him in jail, threatening to impale him on a 40-foot pole if his daughter is not found. Fortunately, Abdullah is saved by his magic carpet and escapes from Zanzib.

Abdullah ends up in the desert and stumbles upon a group of bandits, who have in their possession a particularly cranky genie who grants only one wish a day. In the night, Abdullah steals the genie and flees. After a wish, Abdullah is transported to Ingary and ends up traveling with a bitter Strangian soldier whose country was recently taken in a war with Ingary. While traveling to Kingsbury in search of a wizard, the two stumble upon a cat and her kitten, whom the soldier names Midnight and Whippersnapper, respectively.

As they travel, Abdullah wishes for the return of his flying carpet, who brings with it the very Djinn that kidnapped Flower-in-the-Night. It is revealed that the Djinn, Hasruel, is being forced to kidnap princesses from all over the world by his brother, Dalzel. The two proceed on the carpet to Kingsbury, which is where they find Wizard Suliman, who, upon realizing that Midnight is actually a person in cat form, returns her to being a human. As the spell is lifted from the woman, who turns out to be Sophie Pendragon, her baby, Morgan is returned to his normal self as well. However, when they go to collect the baby, he is no longer in the inn, where he was left with the soldier.

Abdullah and Sophie then order the carpet to take them to Morgan. The carpet does so, taking them far into the sky, to the castle in the air, which is merely Wizard Howl’s castle, having been greatly enlarged. There they meet the abducted princesses and plot with them to escape the flying moving castle. Led by Abdullah, they overpower the two Djinn, freeing Hasruel who banishes his brother. Flower-of-the-Night had by then wished the Genie free, who turned out to be Sophie’s husband, the top-level sorcerer Howl.

My Thoughts:

My feelings about this book almost exactly what I felt when reading Howl’s Moving Castle. That always makes writing a review that much harder.

The light fairytale’ish feeling permeates the entire book and not at any time did I feel that things weren’t going to work out for Abullah, even if we come to realize that things might not work out exactly how he planned or wants. When I reviewed Castle in the Air in ’08, I ended it with the words “Light and Delightful”. Both still definitely apply in the best sense of the words.

This isn’t exactly a sequel to Howl though. More of another book set in the same world where some of the same characters from the previous book intrude. Just to make things complicated though, Howl’s Moving Castle was made into an anime movie by Hayao Miyazaki. Beautiful film that is more “inspired” by the book than a direct medium change. The complicated part comes because Miyazaki had previously made a movie called Castle in the Sky. It has nothing to do with this book however. What’s more, this book was written in 1990 while the anime movie Castle in the Sky was made in 1996. Howl the book was written in 1986 while Howl the movie was made in 2004. Confused yet? Good. You’re just a schmuck if that confuses you. But even if it does confuse you and makes you a schmuck, at least now you’re a better educated schmuck about something that nobody really cares about. And if that doesn’t stand for everything that the internet represents, well then, I guess I’M a schmuck.

(no schmucks were harmed (very much) in the writing of this review)

★★★★★