As I said in the prior post I got books 6-8 yesterday; and once my posting was finished I read them all in one sitting and laughed. And now I've restarted at volume 6.
One of the benefits of being a manga artist (even when you're extra-amateur, like me) is having a clue as to how much effort goes into drawing the kind of backgrounds Azuma is using, particularly in the later volumes. I always loved reading Video Girl Ai and I"s because Masakasu Katsura put so much effort into his backgrounds, and the art was beautiful--and Azuma is doing much the same level of work with Yotsuba&!.
Azumanga Daioh was really good, but you can't showcase your artistic talents in a four-panel comic.
No, that's not true. It takes a really good artist to make those work--and AD works!--but you don't have the time or space to draw really elaborate scenery. Risu Akizuki, artist behind OL Shinkaron, is a master artist. You wouldn't know it to look at her work, but the gags she pulls work correctly even translated into English because the artwork is perfect.
My favorite strip from that series is a good example of this:
Jun (an office lady) is spending a quiet Sunday at home with her boyfriend.
Jun taps her boyfriend's shoulder. "Hey, hey." He looks at her.
He's shocked and dismayed to see tears pouring down Jun's face!
Jun says, "I only yawned once, and look how many tears came out!" The boyfriend, relieved, nods.
With no dialogue, it's obvious what's going on in the boyfriend's head--he never speaks a word, yet we know what he's thinking. And the sample strip at the Wikipedia page on the series is a good example of the artwork of the series. It's simple yet it communicates perfectly, and you can't reliably pull that off unless you are one hell of an artist.
I've read several of the collections, and there's only one panel of one strip where I can't figure out what the hell is going on...and that's because I'm missing the cultural reference. ("Cormorant fishing at Naragaragawa", for those of you who've read it.) And this is, by the way, from a translation which was meant for the Japanese domestic market, for Japanese who want work on their English skills. A Japanese person would probably get the joke I can't figure out.
Pity OL Shinkaron hasn't made it here. You can occasionally find the books on eBay but I don't do eBay all that often. *sigh*
As for Yotsuba&!, it took Azuma until volume 6 to reveal that Yotsuba is five years old. And she acts like a five-year-old, which is good. (Kids in anime and manga often fail to act their ages--too mature--so seeing a five-year-old who acts five is refreshing.) Yotsuba goes and does things without thinking, and much of the suspense in the story comes from knowing that whatever misadventures Yotsuba gets into are probably going to end in scolding and possibly a spanking. (Though her father does not often spank her.) You can see the train wreck coming because you're an adult; Yotsuba herself cannot. She's five. But even though you're cringing, you're also enjoying the story.
Then there are the stories where she has other adventures, such as going to the ranch and seeing cows. The adult-supervised adventures are always fun. When she goes to the Ayases' house and gets into things there, or when she does things with Ena and Miura--even running errands ends up being an adventure for her. So as entertainment it works.
It's a true "slice of life" story, though, because Azuma doesn't skip unpleasant things. The fishing trip: the scene where Jumbo shows Ena and Miura how to clean and skewer the fish is a bit icky, and I know exactly how Miura feels. The tantrum Yotsuba throws when her father says they're not going to the beach, that Yotsuba was mistaken--and the awkward atmosphere with Ena and Fuuka present--is cringe-worthy. Everything comes through perfectly; and it takes a really good and talented artist to make that happen.
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Apparently Obama is in Big Oil's pocket. Well, BP contributed a lot of money to his campaign.
I have to agree with Ms. Scalia, here: where are all the people who were screaming about Bush and Cheney and Halliburton and Big Oil? Why are they silent now?
Do I have to provide the answer to that obviously rhetorical question?
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Two posts at Eternity Road about the economic situation in Greece and Europe:
Aaron, "The Revolution Will Be Televised". European socialism may be unraveling before our very eyes. Certainly the unsustainability of the socialist fantasy has begun to become apparent.
"Col. B. Bunny" also discusses Greece and the rest of the Eurozone; and this post makes good points and comes with footnotes.
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...small wonder I'm not laughing much of late.