I thought that I would write a little bit about Yotsuba&! which is a charming and funloving series.
I bought it on a whim, purely because the cover design was absolutely adorable. When I started reading it, I was hooked, and within about a week, I was completely caught up with the volumes that had been released, and had preordered volume 10! I am now eagerly awaiting volume 11 to become available for preorder.
What I like about this series is the simplicity in the story, and in the character designs, and the detail in the backgrounds. I think the fact that the characters are drawn in such a simple fashion really adds to their ability to express themselves. The detailed backgrounds make the world that Yotsuba lives in much more realistic.
Yotsuba seems to be a believable five year old girl, perhaps more naive than might be expected of someone her age. She is charming, and watching her live her life day to day and discover the world is truly funny and beautiful. I wish that I could find amazement in everything. I am sure that as a five year old, I probably did.
Of course, Yotsuba is not the only character in the series. We also get to enjoy the antics of her father (known as Daddy to Yotsuba, and Koiwai to everyone else), her dad's friend Jumbo (his ancestors were giraffes), and her neighbours, the Ayase's. All of the characters, even the minor characters that only pop up once or twice (such as Shaggy Beard from the bicycle shop), are believable in the way that they act and speak, and in the way that they react to Yotsuba and her odd behaviour. You can see the amusement in the expressions of Asagi and the worry in Fuuka when Yotsuba does something that perhaps she shouldn't. You can believe that Koiwai sometimes seems indifferent to Yotsuba's strangeness, simply because he is so used to it. In fact, he even once described her to Fuuka as strange. He does not deny this, he embraces it.
I would say that Kiyohiko Azuma did a great job with this series. If that name seems familiar, then you would be correct, as he is the mangaka who wrote Azumanga Daioh, another slice of life comedy series about a group of real people enjoying and enduring the real world. Yotsuba&! is perhaps a little more down to earth than Azumanga Daioh, but this does not make it a boring series at all. Quite the opposite in fact, as the everyday banality of the world is offset quite nicely by Yotsuba's enjoyment of it!!!
If you enjoy slice of life manga, comedy, or the antics of cute little girls (not in a creepy way of course, there is no creepiness in this series at all), then I would check Yotsuba&! out. It is definitely well worth the time and money!