Yotsuba&! Volume 13
Although Yotsuba&! volume 13 came out this past spring, this time of year feels better suited to the series for me, since it’s as warming and comfortable as a cup of cocoa. And waiting an extra six months or so is nothing, since it’s been three years since the previous volume. Any new Yotsuba&! is a gift.
Her wide-eyed, accepting attitude to the world and the new experiences she has, as portrayed by author Kiyohiko Azuma, is a tonic. In this installment, Yotsuba goes to the park to play in the sandbox, where she pretends to run a bakery. The imagination on display is attractive, inspiring the reader to see everyday elements in new ways.
Also suited to the end-of-year holidays is getting together with relatives. We get to meet Yotsuba’s grandmother when she comes to visit in a multi-chapter sequence. Yotsuba tries to be a good girl, but she’s still young, shown when she says, “I love Grandma because she gives me things!” Then Grandma tricks Yotsuba into helping her clean the house. The relationship between the two is amusing, and the emotion, particularly when Yotsuba tries to prevent her from leaving at the end of her stay, poignant.
The wordless sequence where Yotsuba walks through the house at night, having woken up and gone in search of her father, is lovely, with varying shades of grey capturing the atmosphere of a quiet, dark home. There’s no substantial revelation, no big surprise, just a portrait of how it feels to be awake when you’re not supposed to be. It’s those quiet moments that almost serve as an artistic meditation.