From Publishers Weekly
Four previously published volumes of this charmingly whimsical manga are assembled under one cover, collecting a huge number of four-panel strips and the occasional entry in more traditional comic style. Taken as a whole, the sheer volume of material builds a world that makes up for the slightness of the individual strips as we follow four high school girls to graduation. Each chapter, named for a month, focuses on typical events of the season, and the humor comes through a variety of approaches: physical comedy, contrasting expectations, goofy behavior, exaggerated literalism and the occasional dreamy surrealism. The girls have defining characteristics and hairstyles. The standout is brainy 10-year-old Chiyo, who closely resembles the title character from Azuma's later work Yotsuba&!
. Meanwhile, the freedom of action of an incompetent teacher who inappropriately behaves like a student herself is shown as oddly attractive. The story line is very Japanese, with its emphasis on structure and school ritual. Some of the Americanizations, like having an Osaka student speak Brooklynese, are necessary but slightly jarring. The omnibus is an ideal presentation for the series and should bring new readers to the franchise. (Nov.)
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