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The ABC’s of Diversions
Seki’s desktop renovation is fit for a TV show. He adds turf just to create crop circles, and lures beetles and cicadas... until a larger predator shows up. Seki’s building a kaiju with a secret inside for the school fair. And can Rumi rescue Jun’s doll from the path of vigilantism...?
This compilation, an older kid's version of Yotsuba&!, collects vignettes that worked better in their original setting: as short, fun page-filler in a magazine of longer serials. Seki sits at the back of the classroom and is constantly goofing off in elaborate ways. His seat neighbor, a studious and straitlaced firecracker of a girl named Yokai, does her best to avoid his antics, but her active imagination often leads her to be more involved in the stories than he is. Eventually, Yokai starts striking back at Seki's folly, and growing more confident in the process, though her resolve doesn't mature into permitting a conversation between them. The artwork, like the story, is simple but clean, professionally polished and easy to read. The layout delivers the humor succinctly, and the translation is sharp. Morishige is known for later works in the seinen and horror categories, but this 2010 work helped launch his career. The content palpably captures the frustration and whimsy of the age it depicts, but in the end is still a simple, episodic comedy that will sell best once the anime based on the comic debuts in the U.S.