Thursday, 13 May 2010

Yotsuba & Portal!

Fairly busy with exam revision, so a fairly light-hearted and quick blog entry, because I can't be bothered discussing politics and other things right now.

Sylf linked on IRC to quite an interesting post on Insert Disc yesterday, of a guy who had introduced his mother's 4th grade class to the Yotsuba&! manga and then given them a questionnaire on their opinions (yesterday also coincided with my copy of Volume 8 arriving through the post from Amazon). The results are mildly interesting, even if they're not that surprising.

Thing is, they demonstrate more for me why Yotsuba&! is such a fantastic manga. Personally I'd say it's my favourite manga (though I've not read that many series, so that's a bit of a limited pool), which is probably not a huge surprise to a lot of people, given I use Yotsuba for my avatar on pretty much every website I'm on, including this blog among other things. Yotsuba&! is fantastic for its ability to completely transcend all age boundaries. There's something pure about its humour that is appealing to both adults and kids. Because, despite its appearance, and Yen Press's shitty synopsis on the back of the volume, it is serialised in a seinen magazine. "Seinen", for people who aren't up to speed with anime/manga terminology (ie. most people) means its target demographic is a male, adult audience (and no, not adult in that way). It's for 18-30 year olds, yet unlikely the likes of Hellsing and Akira is also completely suitable and enjoyable for kids who are only 9 or 10, and possibly younger.


I really don't think there are many people who could read Yotsuba&! and not find it to be fairly funny, unless it just tickles me in some weird way that most people don't get. That said, I've never found anyone who has read it and not really enjoyed it. It's also rare for me to read something and laugh as much as I did, and still do, while reading Yotsuba&!, and I thank muf infinitely for introducing me to it. Its humour is based around the innocence, imagination and excitability of youth, about being at an age when even the simple things can provide immense amusement. Rediscovering the world through the eyes of a hyperactive, overenthusiastic 5-year old girl. Along with Azumanga Daioh, also by Kiyohiko Azuma, it's extremely funny as well, in a way that's not that easy to describe. I think the core of it is how likeable the characters are, and how despite being a little bit over the top, especially in the way their reactions are drawn (example), they're extremely realistic and down to earth.

I think you'd either have to be the most macho of macho men to not like it, or to have had some sort of horrifically warped and deprived childhood. It crosses gender and age without trouble, it's that good.
Also, excerpts (read right to left, not left to right). Not necessarily a greatest moments, just what I happen to already have in my photobucket account:

So yeah, something people should definitely check out, whether they read manga or not (Liar Game being the other thing I can't recommend enough to people). It can be read online here, amongst other places, or people are free to borrow the paperback volumes off me if they want to, given I've got them with me at Uni. Very funny, clean, universal humour. Even 9 year olds can tell that.

Also, one thing definitely worth mentioning is that to presumably increase the number of people on Macs who get the new Mac-compatible version of Steam (and also the new Windows version), Valve are offering Portal for free. The offer is available until May 24th, so not much time to get it, but everyone should if they don't already own a copy of the game. It's not a particularly long game, and it never cost that much to start with, but it's a very interesting and original first-person puzzle game. Its reputation as one of the best games ever made is backed up by the fact that it won an absolute shitload of awards.
It requires you to download and install Steam, which isn't a particularly intrusive or annoying program (plus Steam is an extremely good way to buy a lot of games), and the effort of registering is definitely worth free Portal.
Even if your computer isn't good enough to run it properly, it's still worth getting so that when you get a decent computer, you'll have it in your Steam account.

For those who already have Portal and paid money for it, a consolation image, courtesy of Greg on IRC this afternoon (and not Meroigo, who reposted it because he's lame :|):

 Download and play Portal for free to get the joke!

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