Everybody loves Yotsuba&!. This series is a huge fan favourite among manga critics, while also achieving some mainstream success- I can think of very few people who strongly dislike Yotsuba&!. This comedy series about a young girl's daily life has a wide appeal; despite its childish look and premise, it is serialized in the seinen magazine. Many have commented that Yotsuba&! would be well received by children, if they were to read it.
My mother teaches a fourth grade classroom. We decided that to put a volume of Yotsuba on the shelf and see what happens. It was instantly popular. Volume one quickly made its way around the class, with complaints made if one kid was reading it too slowly. My mom picked up the rest of the series from a used bookstore and her students were overjoyed. Yotsuba&! is the cool thing that most of the class is into. When they doodle on the pack of papers, it is of Yotsuba. Parents have asked my mom what Yotsuba is, since their kids have been asking for their own copies.
I decided to survey the readers on their thoughts on Yotsuba&! and will now present my findings.
14 out of her 19 students took the survey. In only four months, that much of her class had been reading. Perhaps more have read it, but these chose to answer the survey.
Five Students are age 9 and the other 9 are age 10. The ratio of boys to girls is fairly even, with 8 girls and 6 boys. It is often assumed that young boys will have a distaste for entertainment with a female protagonist- especially a cute little girl that doesn't pilot robots or something. However, at least in this group, the guys were just as able to appreciate Yotsuba as the girls.
Only 4 students had read all 7 of the currently available books. 1 girl had read the first 6. Another had read 5. 3 students had read 4 volumes and 2 others had up to the 3rd. No one had read only one volume.with the other 3 students having read 2. Interestingly, 1 child had read only volumes 6 and 7.
In response to "Do you like the series Yotsuba&!", all answered positively.
"I love them!" answered one girl who signed her name as "The addicted lover of Yotsuba"
(one girl choose two answers: Yotsuba and Yanda)
I asked the students to explain why they liked Yotsuba.
"She's funny in many ways + its funny when she goes on adventures" (M)
"Because she is always asking alot of questions and always makes things more importet" (F)
"She has her own personality" (F)
"its funny" (M)
"She is really funny and she always wants to visit ena, fuka, and asagi" (F)
"She is a little girl who always gets in trouble" (F)
"She is cute and curious about everything" (F)
"It is funny and cute" (F)
"it's a well written comic book" (M)
"it's funny" (M)
"Yotsuba is so [several underscores] funny!" (F)
"She is funny, curiouse and cute" (F)
"It's funny" (M)
"It's funny, fun to read. Its relaxing for me to just sit in my chair and read Yotsuba" (M)
Yes, there were 3 separate "its funny". The reasons they present seem simplistic, but I have no doubt that there is a lot to their enjoyment. The kids just can't well describe or even fully realize why they enjoy something at this point. That can be a challenge even for us reviewers. The last example I quoted sounds like a manufactured advertisement.
"Revenge" was a popular choice with 4 votes, and 2 others listed the Fireworks chapter. The rest all picked something different- "Milk", "The Beach", "Cicada", Yanda", "I don't know / ?", "Recycling", "The Zoo".
The questionnaire then focused on some more technical questions.
Colour or Black and White?
13/14 wanted to see it in colour.
Only one student preferred it without colour. I guess next year's class will be happy when I introduce them to Chi's Sweet Home.
Would you like to see it animated"
Again, all but one student would like a cartoon.
"No, because I like her to have my voice when I am reading it". Future manga blogger right here, folks.
ADV or Yen Press (By this time, both editions were available in class)
4 prefered ADV, 5 favoured Yen Press, 4 did not care, and 1 did not understand the question and answered "no".
I asked if they understood the concept of honourifics. My mother has explained that too them, but as usual many did not get it.
6 claim to not understand honourifics. The other 8 understood the honourifics, but one complained that she did not like them. That said, the 6 who didn't get it had usually read less than the others and their answers made them appear less infatuated with the series than those who say they understood and loved the honourifics.
I asked the question on the mind of all publishers: Have you bought any and if not do you plan too?
3 girls and 1 boy had purchased Yotsuba volumes. 2 of them had bought 4 books.
7 were planning to buy the series, but 2 said "maybe". 1 heartless (or poor) young child answered "no".
Matte or Glossy covers?
I side with the matte kids, myself.
We all know that Yotsuba&! runs in a seinen magazine, but these kiddies sure don't. I asked "Who do you think is the target audience of Yotsuba?"
"Kids that are 9, 10, or 11"
"I don't know"
"Adults and kids"
"..." [I don't know why, but he wrote 3 dots. Must be a JRPG fan]
"japanese and americans will want to read it"
"japanese teens + some american kids that enjoy manga"
"9-12 year olds"
"childen AND adults"
"Any one who reads it"
"To make people laugh"
The next 2 question dealt with merchandising. it was explained to them that detailed PVC figures of the characters could be purchased.
Would you import these figures online?
Would you buy if they were locally available?
About half of the subjects would be interested in buying locally, but only 3 say they would order online. I would have expected that they wouldn't be able to buy pricey figures from the internet, but didn't expect them to take a realistic view.
I asked about what other manga they have read. Two of the students had read manga before Yotsuba: Pokemon Diamond and Pearl and psuedo-manga Warriors. I asked if those who hadn't had started reading manga after Yotsuba. Three of them had read UDON's The Big Adventures of Majoko. I had put that book in the library a week before. 2 of the students were not interested in reading manga besides Yotsuba. Naturally, these 2 were also less enthusiastic in all their answers. For the most part, these manga newcomers are excited about it, and very interested in broadening their horizons. Only two had gone out of their way to read non-Yotsuba manga that wasn't readily available in the classroom, but their manga introduction was only a short while ago. As mentioned earlier, some of these kids had already bought several Yotsuba&! volumes. Given time, I am sure many of them will discover more titles.
Also, all the students agreed that Yotsuba should not punch a goat. However, there were mixed opinions of Fuka's T-shirts.
"ya they're funny to myself also"
"They are quite interesting + I like them"