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Kozo’s Mailbag: Who is Yotsuba? reader Petra asked this question a couple of months ago after the first installment of Kozo & Yotsuba in Italy - which, by the way, has yet to see a second installment because I got too busy with work and lots of review writing. And when those things finally dried up, we had this monstrosity descend upon Hong Kong:

Kozo and Tony
Some random individual gawks at
Tony “Tiger Face” Leung from Red Cliff

Petra’s question was, “Who is Yotsuba?”

While not an Asian film-related question, it happens to be a very appropriate one, because I featured numerous pictures of Yotsuba in that earlier blog entry. Doing so was wrong of me, because I incorrectly assumed that anyone who dropped by this blog either A) knows who Yotsuba is, or B) won’t care one way or another. As this is Damn You, Kozo! and not something anyone would confuse with a quality blog, I figured I would be safe without the explanation.

Well, I was wrong. And even though a simple search can lead you to Yotsuba’s Wikipedia page, I thought I’d explain it here.

Yotsuba Banner
Yay, Yotsuba!

Yotsuba is the name of a mischievous little girl created by Kiyohiko Azuma, the manga creator and all-around genius who also created a fun little gag manga called Azumanga Daioh. Yotsuba stars in the manga Yotsubato!, which basically translates as “Yotsuba &!”, with the ampersand connecting his main character to any number of things, including firecrackers, presents, global warming, flowers, and other things that may pop up in everyday life.

What makes Yotsuba interesting and fun is simply her interaction with everyday things, and the surprising honesty, impetuousness, and rampant misunderstanding that a child may display when dealing with things like school projects, ice cream, strangers, the supermarket, next-door neighbors, and trips to the beach. Yotsuba also has a bizarre green hairdo that represents a four-leaf clover. In Japanese, “Yotusba” means four-leaf clover. There’s your language lesson for the day.

Yotsuba and Cats
Yotsuba and Cats

The manga’s motto is “Enjoy Everything”, which explains it far better than I ever could. Both Yotsuba and the stars of Azumanga Daioh have made appearances on before, namely as featured images on the old Life with Kozo pages. I dumped them there because I enjoy both immensely; both share the same whimsical and frequently unexpected sense of humor, and both are free of fan service, violence, or any of the extreme subjects sometimes associated with Japanese manga and animation.

Please remember, not everyone who likes Japanese animation is a pervert. I include myself in that category, though I have been referred to as a pervert on the Internet before. Fitting enough, it was a comment made on some Ekin Cheng forum somewhere.

The gun is sold separately:

Yotusba with weapon
“This is for all those Ekin fans! Die, Kozo!”

Anyway, Petra also asked where she can get her own Yotsuba action figure. A Yotsuba Revoltech Action Figure can be purchased from or any number of online retailers, though there’s not that much Yotsuba schwag currently available. There is, however, a very nice calendar that combines photography with color illustrations of Yotsuba, placing Kiyohiko’s fictional mischief maker into a real-life context that perfectly summarizes her adventures and appeal.

Yotsuba Calendar
Unfortunately, it’s sold out

Yotsuba isn’t about wacky hijinks or over-the-top strangeness; it’s a simple manga that’s fun, familiar and even comforting, and there’s lots to enjoy in the character’s minor adventures. I said as much to Petra in my earlier email, and soon she got her own Yotsuba action figure, and even picked up a few issues of the manga.

She sent me a picture, too:

“I’m everywhere!”

This picture proves that this blog can make a small difference. At the very least, it’s probably done more than the actual LoveHKFilm website has recently. The next goal of Damn You, Kozo: persuading everyone that Hong Kong film is not dead. The first person I’ll try to convince is myself.

Anyway, I hope everyone who reads this becomes a fan of Yotsuba, too.

Yotsuba 2
“See you next time!”

9 Responses to “Kozo’s Mailbag: Who is Yotsuba?”

  1. Darren Says:

    yotsuba is easily the best comic ive read anywhere, american or japanese, i cant wait for the next installment, its one of the few books that eases my mind and allows me to enjoy the simpler things in life, azumanga daioh was one of my favorite animes too, i enjoyed it more than the books…

  2. Gabriel Says:

    I rather like Pokey the Penguin myself.

  3. eliza bennet Says:

    On an unrelated Yotsuba - less note; I really liked your Red Cliff review, you are a gifted man!

  4. V Says:

    Glad that Petra asked and that you decided to share the answer with all of us. I had read the wikipedia entry on Yotsuba, but reading more about her here makes me want to read the manga.

    The ‘Kozo, the pervert’ page is quite funny. Please bring back the April Fool jokes!

  5. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Darren, I’m a huge fan of the Yotsuba manga. I also agree that the Azumanga Daioh anime was in many ways superior to the book. The book was fun, but the anime really captured the odd, everyday quality of the manga. The music and voices were tops too.

    That Pokey the Penguin is quality. Thanks for sharing, Gabriel!

    V, I would love to bring back April Fool’s jokes, but time always gets to me. Even worse, April is now right there with the HKIFF and possibly Udine Far East Film (if I go back), so I’m not sure how I can create an April Fool’s Edition unless I plan it in December or January. As I’m fond of saying, time is a luxury and I’m not a rich man.

    Eliza, thanks for the kind words, as always. Truthfully, I needn’t have raced to write a Red Cliff review, since it’s already been covered all over the web. Hell, Twitch has THREE reviews of the film already.

    Frankly, it’s the existence of high-profile sites and blogs like that which make me consider hanging it up, or at least not reviewing the bigger titles. Red Cliff or Johnnie To don’t need coverage anymore, since they’ve all but invaded mainstream geek culture.

    However, we could be the first site to review La Lingerie.

  6. MW Says:

    Azumanga was such a cute/random funny/great anime. The DVDs did a good explaining the cultural references, and a series worth watching over and over.

    Red Cliff review was a good read. I think it’s been since Lust, Caution that a film was worth that type of quality review. That’s sad. And neither are really Hong Kong films.

    But any “goodness” from watching Red Cliff got quickly overshadowed by the brilliance of The Dark Knight. Kozo, you should be able to get some hits if you slam The Dark Knight and say Batman & Robin was better.

  7. Gabriel Says:

    Wow, your review of “Kung Fu Hip Hop” is so entertaining, I gotta see that movie!

  8. Kyra Says:

    Hi Kozo, I love Yotsuba too

  9. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Hi Kyra, great to meet another Yotsuba fan! I’m glad that the manga license was picked up by Yen Press after ADV got out of the game. I’ve often wondered if Kiyohiko Azuma will break down and greenlight an anime adaptation one day.

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