Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Ani-Father's Day! (Manga Style.)

Happy Father's Day! Master of procrastination and recently recovered from an illness (minor), it is I, Richard J., here to bring you another dose of Blog-o-rific fun! (Warning, do not drive while under the influence of this blog.)

Finding positive father figures in anime can be hard, due to so many missing fathers and Gendo Ikari wannabes, but there are some good ones out there. Unfortunately, my favorite is only in manga format right now! Still, it would be a waste to not use him just because of a minor technicality. (Heck, I'll even tell you whose voice I think would work well with him if an anime was made and got an English dub!)

So let me introduce you to Mr. Koiwai of the distilled happiness and sunshine manga Yotsuba&!

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Why is Mr. Koiwai a great father? While overseas he found himself taking care of the odd girl and ended up adopting her, which alone makes him better than many people who turn a blind eye to children in need. Further, he brought her to a wonderful neighborhood where Yotsuba made friends immediately with the Ayase family (especially Ena, the youngest sister) and the tomboy Miura. Mr. Koiwai might seem like a slacker but he does work hard to provide Yotsuba with a happy home.

Mr. Koiwai provides Yotsuba with a new life that we can only guess is considerably better than how she lived before. Every day is an adventure and a smile. While he might not be the perfect parent, there's never any doubt that loves his rambunctious daughter and all the odd things she does.

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In terms of parenting skills, Mr. Koiwai can be a bit unorthodox and sometimes he even seems irresponsible. In the first chapter of the manga, he lets Yotsuba explore the new neighborhood alone. While that might seem unthinkable to us, it's actually quite safe for kids in Japan and the hyper-awareness of "stranger danger" in the US is out of proportion considering the actual statistical analysis of the threat. (Besides, Yotsuba escapes Fuka quite easily when she remembers her father's warnings about strangers!)

Mr. Koiwai can act like a big kid himself, taking on the persona of Boxer Man for instance, but really, he's such a wonderful example of a loving father. Personally, I feel that fathers aren't often portrayed well in the United States (Homer Simpson clones and over-bearing dominators abound) so I adore the affectionate way he indulges his daughter's odd but lovable nature. Unlike some parents, who treat children like programmable robots, Mr. Koiwai lets Yotsuba be herself.

So many times in the manga, from her playful antics to learning how to do important tasks in life, Mr. Koiwai always lets Yotsuba be Yotsuba.

And perhaps letting a child be herself is the greatest act of good parenting possible. It's no wonder Yotsuba cherishes her father the way she does.

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Mr. Koiwai takes his bundle of joy and innocent happiness on all sorts of adventures too. Trips to the pool, a totally not fun ranch and even to Fuka's high school. When he isn't taking her himself, he's signing off on another family friend to take Yotsuba somewhere wonderful, like when Jumbo takes her, Ena and Miura on a cicada hunt. (Yotsuba brought a lot of happiness to the Ayase family home that day!)

It's plain to see that Mr. Koiwai loves his daughter. Even though she can be quite the handful at times. Yotsuba reminds us all that our parents, especially our fathers, often deserve a little more love and respect than we give them. Her father represents many of the things that make fathers worthy of that love and respect.

The combination of loving father, slightly flaky nature and occasionally wise parent mixes wonderfully in Mr. Koiwai. That mix is why I personally think that John Burgmeier would be a great choice to voice the character if he were ever animated. There's something about his voice that I think would really jive well with Mr. Koiwai's calm attitude. Mr. Burgmeier has a way of sounding silly yet wise at the same time, as when he voiced Shigure in Fruits Basket that really fits with how I feel about this character.

Plus I think he could easily emote just the right tone for those rare instances where Yotsuba goes a little too far with a prank or genuinely puts herself in a dangerous position. Those few moments where Mr. Koiwai actually has to punish her seem loving in a way too.

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Sometimes she draws on his face while he sleeps. Sometimes she forgets to buy what he sent her to the store for. Sometimes she unknowingly puts her own life in danger. However, one thing is always certain with Yotsuba and her father. There is always love there. Nothing can break the warm bond they have that forms the core of the joyous manga that is Yotsuba&! I can't imagine the series without the combined father and daughter hi-jinks or the simple sweetness of their bond.

Amazingly though, where it can be hard to find any parent, let alone one so understanding and positive as Mr. Koiwai in any series, Yotsuba&! has more great fathers!

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Asagi, Fuka and Ena's daddy works hard and is rarely seen. His eldest daughter and wife, in the rare dark humor moments of the series, act wistfully like he's already passed on! Still, he's kind when there and loves his family. He gets shoulder massage coupons from Ena (one of which he plans to keep until the day she gets married!), laughs at his daughter Fuka's silly jokes and recognizes that his daughter Asagi clearly takes after her mother. He's got things together better than Koiwai too.

Jumbo's dad runs a flower shop and actually believed his son might have snagged Fuka as a girlfriend. (Plus he complimented her beauty, clearly Jumbo's dad has good taste.) He thinks quite a bit of his HUGE son and they work well together. Plus he gave Yotsuba a ton of flowers! He's only normal big but he's got a HUGE heart.

Well, that's it for this blog posting. Tune in next time for more of my rambling. I'll try to speed things up a bit too. Between the heat and the random thunder storms that kill the power, plus a recent minor illness, I haven't felt like working too much on this blog. I'll try to get things together more soon.

For now, I hope all of you with good daddies got a chance today to say "thanks" to them. For everyone else, remember the good example of Mr. Koiwai and try to bring a little sunshine and understanding into someone's life. Who knows, maybe you'll inspire someone to be a better person.

Bye-ni!

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9 comments:

  1. Yotsuba&! is a fun manga! I agree with all you've said about Mr. Koiwai, I always found him pretty cool.

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  2. I don't know much about Yotsuba, but my friend has the manga and says it is great. So what is Yotsuba summed up in 1 sentence? lol

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  3. @ ExcelGenerations: Yotsuba summed up in a single sentence? Here goes:

    "The joy of a child's heart brings happiness to everyone."

    At least for me, Yotsuba&! is like distilled happiness and sunshine. It's slice-of-life and comedy with just a dash of drama for seasoning. Basically, if you've ever seen Azumanga Daioh and liked it, especially if you liked Chiyo or Osaka, you'll probably like Yotsuba&!

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  4. ExcelGenerationsJune 22, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    Cool. I like alot of shows, manga I buy a few but I buy more into anime. It varies when it comes to little girl shows. Azumanga Daioh was awesome though. Have you seen Bamboo Blade? It's funny, cute and even has action via kendo. :D

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  5. @ ExcelGenerations: Yeah, I've got both DVD sets for Bamboo Blade and I'm getting caught up on the manga. Tama-chan and MiyaMiya are so awesome.

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  6. OMG!!! you are so right about yotsuba& i couldnt stop laughing people were looking at me weird. XD

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  7. Well, I usually go for manga those are funny or have a good plot. I don't find Yotsuba&! that funny as a comedy and it doesn't really have any plot, as far as I know. But I read it and I like it. This manga has many adorable characters, and I think Mr. Koiwai is the nicest (in a realistic way) guy I can find in manga.

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  8. @ Anon: Hey now, don't blame me for people giving you weird looks. ;)

    @ bonekasantet: I'm surprised you don't find Yotsuba to be that funny. The series cracks me up at times. Then again, the slice-of-life genre is a bit of an acquired taste.

    Still, reading it always makes me feel a little better about life.

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  9. Well, I read many manga, most of them are comedies like Detroit Metal City, Gintama, Sket Dance, Seto no Hanayome, and so on, which I think is better at the jokes.

    Yotsuba&! too, is a comedy manga. But maybe I'm just not into the style of the jokes played in the manga. Overall, I think it's a good manga. I got an ideal picture of a father in this manga from Mr. Koiwai. Well, after reading this manga, I've decided to be that kind of dad if I got children in the future.

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