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Yoko Tsuno (1970-) is a French-Belgian comic book series by Roger Leloup. The title character is a young Japanese woman of multiple talents, initially trained as an electronician but also skilled in airplane piloting, martial arts (karate, aikido, kyudo), computer programming, etc. She's fluent in many foreign languages: English (required learning in technology fields), French (she's living there...), German (...or close by), Cantonese (her grandmother was from there) and more (most, through sleep learning improved by future technologies). Her adventures usually involve scientific or technological elements, and regularly go into outright Science Fiction, with the recurring presence of a humanoid alien race, the Vineans.

Her sidekicks are two Westerners, Vic Video and Pol Pitron, and she is the adoptive mother of a Chinese girl, Morning Dew.

A novel, L'écume de l'aube (The Foam of the Dawn), tells the story of Yoko's childhood, her family, friends and relationships up to her first adventure outside Japan. The main story arc is about the the Foam of the Dawn, a diamonded-colored pearl envisioned by Yoko's grandfather. He tried to create the pearl all his life, but never succeeded and as a result, his cultured pearl business failed and his family was nearly torn apart. Yoko believe in him and convince him to try one more time.


Yoko Tsuno provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Yoko.
  • After the End: Monya comes from a post-apocalyptic future in which the use of an antimatter weapon called the Contraction Bomb has rendered Earth uninhabitable. In fact, she travels back in time precisely to prevent that weapon being invented.
  • AI Is a Crapshoot: In "The Trio of the Strange", the accummulation of residual energy from the Vineans' computer system has resulted in the spontaneous development of an evil AI. In "The Three Suns of Vinea", the entire planet Vinea turns out to be ruled by a despotic AI.
    • The latter could be considered an inversion as a living brain's pattern got stuck in a mental amplifier and kept running after the original's death.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: One very small faction of Vineans used humans as slaves in the Dark Ages.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Monya. She conveniently passes for a Malay, but she isn't one.
  • Ambiguously Lesbian: Yoko is never seen with a boyfriend and has a knack for "picking up" cute young ladies.
    • No, she's not a lesbian. Word of God is that Yoko and 'Vic' are almost a couple, but that the author intentionally did not put Yoko in a relationship so as not to upset the many fans who were 'in love with her'.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Happens quite often in the series: Kazuky to Yoko, Countess Olga to Yoko, Yoko to Emilia just to name a few.
  • Artificial Human: Queen Hegora and the Archangels.
  • Art Evolution: In the first few albums the characters are drawn much more cartoonishly, which is particularly evident with Pol.
    • Actually, Pol is the last to change, while Yoko and Vic get an overhaul rather early in the comics.
  • Backstory: Yoko's youth is explored in the novel L'écume de l'aube (The Foam of the Dawn).
  • Batman Gambit: Yoko uses this against her enemies.
  • Beard of Evil: Karpan, Karl Moebius.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Averted with the Titans, who are a race of giant insectoid aliens, but do possess individuality and redeeming qualities.
  • Big Eater: Pol, also the Team Chef.
  • Body Double Margaret, in "The Prey and the Shadow", is blackmailed into becoming this for the local Ophelia, Cecilia. When Yoko finds out, Margaret begs her for help since she's too scared to openly rebel against Sir William, but wants to get free and help Cecilia.
    • Ito Kazuky has a lookalike serving as a decoy. However, the decoy is revealed to be even more ruthless than Kazuky and a little crazy.
  • Bold Inflation: Happens quite a lot on key elements of the story.
  • Breakout Character : Yoko was originally envisioned as the #3 characters of the trio, behind Vic and Pol, and the first thirteen pages of the first book were drawn that way. Then the publisher suggested Leloup try his hand at small character stories to begin with, and he started with the least important of the three...who promptly made #5 in overall character polls that year. Vic and Pol were demoted to sidekicks, Yoko promoted to star of the series, and the rest is history.
  • Butt Monkey: Pol, to a T.
  • Character Development: Yoko started out as fairly high-strung and willing to engage in violence when not absolutely necessary. She mellowed out in later years.
    • Pol can be aggressive enough for the whole trio.
  • Children Are Innocent: Played straight with Poky and Morning Dew; subverted with Sin-yi, who is more of a Spoiled Brat. But then, she grew up as the child bride of a Tang dynasty Chinese emperor.
  • Collapsing Lair: Webb's mountaintop lab in "The Time Spiral".
  • Combat Tentacles: The alien creature use its tentacles to ransack the research lab in "The Time Spiral". They were actually its nerves which it also uses to control the lab.
  • Cool Starship: Comes in various shapes and sizes, all used by the Vineans. Later in the series, Yoko has her own personal ship, the Ryu.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ito Kazuky.
  • Cryonics Failure: The Supreme Guide in The Three Suns of Vinea, to a point.
  • Dangerous Females: The endless list of females, either from this planet or others, whose sole purpose in life seems to be to cause Yoko Tsuno to faint using the neck chop.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Vic, often Pol as well.
  • Deceptively-Human Robots: The Archangels, Queen Hegora.
  • Disintegrator Ray: Used by the Vineans and various Mecha-Mooks.
  • Distressed Damsel: Poor Ingrid. Sometimes, even Yoko would need rescuing after being hit with the Distress Ball.
  • Distressed Dude: Vic and Pol sometimes need Yoko to rescue them, especially in "The Seventh Code".
  • Elegant Classical Musician: Ingrid, who is a professional pipe organ player.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: A bunch of pteranodons showed up in "The Dawn of the World" during a Stable Time Loop. No explanations were ever provided to why and how they existed...in 1350 AD!
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Large group of baboons showed up unexpectedly in a crater.
  • Expy: Vic and Pol are expies of Jacky and Célestin from the now defunct French-Belgian comic book "Jacky et Célestin".
    • According to Roger Leloup, Yoko is an expy of Japanese actress Yoko Tani.
  • Failure Knight: Yoko's old guardian Aoki, from "Daughter of The Winds". He was a pilot from WWII who didn't get to die honourably in a kamikaze attack and could never get over it. He got his wish through an Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Fainting: Yoko ends up like this in almost every album. She either gets neck chopped, knocked on the head, gassed, drugged, chloroformed, shot at point blank range etc. - the poor girl even faints a couple of times!
  • Fan Service: In "Wotan's Fire", Yoko showed up in bikini on a oil tanker. The crewmen were only too happy to welcome her aboard. In the "The Rhine Gold", we can see her wearing nothing but a towel after taking a shower. In the "Gate of Souls", she lost some of her spacesuit's equipment, forcing her to wear a worn-out, skimpier uniform.In 'On the Edge of Life' Yoko arrives in Rothenburg wearing an ultra short red micro-mini dress.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Vineans' ships.
    • The mechanism behind them[1], as explained in "The Twin Suns of Vinea", is original but also a definite example of Did Not Do the Research.
  • Financial Abuse: Poor, poor Cecilia. If only she knew that her uncle and stepfather William not only killed her mother, but is planning to kill her for her inheritance
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Monya comes from the far future, Mieke from Renaissance-era Bruges, Sin-Yi from Tang China.
  • Friend to All Children: Pol is an awesome babysitter. With a rocket launcher.
  • Gambit Roulette: Used by Gobol to trick Myna into bringing Hegora's personal ship.
  • Gang of Critters: The Exiles. Although they still look cute and appealing to children, they no longer fulfil their function as robot-toys.
  • Giant Flyer: The oversize pteranodons in "The Dawn of the World".
  • Guile Hero: Yoko can be VERY cunning when she wants to.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Played straight at first with Pol and Vic, Yoko's two male sidekicks. Later averted, as she and Vic develop a (mostly tacit) romantic relationship.
    • Later reinforced. Word of God is that he doesn't want to develop the relashionship with Vic... Readers who are in love with her would be jealous!
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Ethera has her body rebuilt after a crash.
  • Hologram: Found in "The Prey and the Shadow." The model is actually Margaret, Cecilia's Body Double, and it motivates her to beg Yoko for help.
  • Honor Before Reason: Yoko's Fatal Flaw.
  • Hot-Blooded: Yoko, sometimes.
  • Human Aliens: The Vineans have blue skin and somewhat sharper traits, but apart from that are indistinguishable from humans. This incredible coincidence is never explained, since they come from the Triangulum galaxy and already looked like that two million years ago, before homo sapiens had even evolved on Earth.
  • Human Popsicle: The Vineans routinely use suspended animation to deal with long-distance space travel, or to keep survivors from the cataclysm that nearly destroyed their planet stowed away until further notice. In "The Edge of Life", this is also how Magda, a little girl from 1945, has been kept alive until the 1970s despite suffering from critical wounds and a rare chronic condition.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: The Vineans can pop vehicles out of their pockets in the same way as computer files are decompressed.
    • Not exactly: one team of war mongers had that technology; most Vineans don't have access to that technology.
  • Identical Stranger: Cecilia and Margaret in "The Prey and the Shadow".
  • Ill Girl: Magda and Ingrid in "The Edge of Life".
  • Innocent Flower Girl: Mieke, is innocent, and a flower girl.
  • Karmic Death: Villains have a tendency to bring doom upon their own heads.
  • Latex Space Suit: Not quite latex, but the Vinean outfits are very tight-fitting.
    • Subverted: these are environment suits. For space sorties , they use much bulkier space suits fitted on top of these body socks.
      • Not much bulkier, though. More like a second layer of body sock. Made out of rubber.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Changed over time. In her early adventures, Yoko would almost always wear the same outfit, a short red dress over a black catsuit. On the cover of The Edge of Life, Yoko can be seen wearing a red mini dress. Later on, Leloup became fond of depicting her in more varied outfits, and her wardrobe has increased in size accordingly. Pol was the last to leave his yellow pullover behind. He often wears a yellow shirt though.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Khany discovers that her and Poky's father is still alive, after having a Brain Uploading millions of years ago.
  • Martial Pacifist: Yoko grows into one. She deplores unnecessary violence and will go out of her way to try and spare the villains' lives. This doesn't prevent her from kicking ass here and there.
  • The Masquerade: What the Power Trio stumbles into in "The Prey and the Shadow".
  • Meet Cute: Pol & Mieke. She's a flower girl from 16th century Bruges; he's a time-traveller from the early 21st century posing as a "lord"; she follows him to modern times.
  • Mind Reading: The Titans. The alien creature from "The Spiral of Time" use a variation of this trope to feed information directly in people's brains.
  • Missing Mom: Lady Mary from "The Prey and the Shadow".
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Interestingly, this actually varies strongly between books. As a loose rule, Yoko Tsuno's adventures can be divided into 3 categories - those in space (or with the vineans on earth); those on earth, without aliens or space-travel; and after Monya arrives in the Timespiral, adventures through time occur as well. On the hardness scale, the series generally swings between 3 and 5, with the space-setting stories being the softest, and those on earth being the hardest.
    • Eg. "The 3 Suns of Vinea" is a soft 3, while "Message for Eternity" is at the hard end of 5.
  • Naive Everygirl: Mieke.
  • Ninja: In "Daughter of the Wind", Kazuky has a bunch of ninjas (or more precisely ninja reenactors) on his payroll. She apparently got some ninja training herself when she was still a teenager (in the novel "The Foam of the Dawn").
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Monya traveling back in time and meddling with the locals cause Narki to be sacrificed to demons.
  • Nuke'Em: The Vineans drop a thermal bomb on the Titans' territory after they left. They also used their own version of nukes against a space city that came too close to their planet. When Ito Kazuky's hurricane-making missile goes out of control, Yoko and Aoki deliver a powerful nuke that ends with Aoki's heroic sacrifice.
  • Official Couple: Pol and Mieke. Aaaaawwwww.
  • Off-Model: Leloup seems to have trouble with bodily proportions and faces sometimes, curiously mostly when drawing characters from a distance.
    • Also, Yoko sometimes looks extremely yellow, which might not be Leloup's fault, though.
      • Confirmed in recent compilations, where colours are better calibrated.
  • The Ojou: Cecilia from "The Prey and the Shadow". She's also a Lonely Rich Kid, kept isolated and prisoner in her own Scottish castle.
    • Yoko is this too. The Tsuno family has a pretty nice Japanese Big Fancy House in Okinawa, after all.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: "The Devil's Organ".
  • The Ophelia: Cecilia, again. Subverted, though: she's actually sane, but her Evil Uncle wants people to think she's a nutjob so he can set her up for an "accidental" death... by making the desperately lonely Cecilia believe she can be reunited with her mom's spirit.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: "In the Dragon of Hong Kong", an evil eastern dragon terrorize the city. It's revealed to actually be robot piloted by a Corrupt Corporate Executive. It's destroyed by a subverted genetically engineered giant lizard in the last battle. In "The Pagoda of the Mists", the plot in centered on a giant alien robot that closely resemble a dragon.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Monya wearing her bikini top OVER her shirt, sporting giant headphones on her head and wearing shoes (everyone else is barefoot), while waiting in line with Balinese girls dressed in their native 1350 costumes. The guards don't notice a thing.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Ingrid, being German, of course has long blond hair tied into cinnamon rolls.
  • The Professor: Yoko's father, Seiki Tsuno.
  • Power Trio: Yoko (Superego), Vic (Ego), Pol (Id).
  • Relationship Upgrade: Yoko and Vic, after being Just Friends for years, began developing romantic feelings for one another in the more recent episodes.
    • Interestingly, Yoko and Pol have much more screen time together than Yoko and Vic.
  • Retcon: Yoko's father was named 'Susuki Tsuno' in 'Electronic Adventures'. Leloup changed it to 'Seiki Tsuno' in 'The Daughter of the Wind' when he recognized that "Suzuki" isn't a proper first name for a Japanese. He forgot to correct one speech bubble on latter prints.
  • Rich Bitch: Countess Olga in "The Rhine Gold", before having Heel Face Turn at the end of story, thanks to Yoko.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: What kicked off the conflict in "The Prey And the Shadow" was how, 20 years ago, Cecilia's mother Mary chose her rich suitor Brian over her poor suitor Mac Nab. It didn't help that Mac Nab was a Yandere rumored to be into the occult, or that he showed up at the wedding and predicted they wouldn't be happy. Which did happen... but not because of Mac Nab himself.
  • Robot War: Gobol and its Mecha-Mooks versus the Exiles.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Yoko and Ingrid have some of this dynamic going on, especially in the earlier albums.
  • Sad Clown: Pol. Well, his surname "Pitron" comes from the French word for "clown"... He's also the author's stand-in.
  • Scars Are Forever: Yoko has a scar on her right shoulder caused by a shard of glass windows. She healed the wound with futuristic cell regeneration technology, but it left a scar.
  • Scenery Porn: Leloup loves drawing backgrounds with all the details he can. And he's VERY good at that.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Yoko dolls up in elegant dresses more than once. I.e.: in "The Devil's Organ", she even wears a kimono. And in The Prey And the Shadow, Cecilia lends her one of her mother's gowns, which has Yoko almost squealing in wonder at how pretty her wardrobe is. And once it's all cleared up and the Power Trio stays a little more in the castle, she gives Yoko some more.
  • Ship Tease: Yoko and Vic at the end of 'Wotan's Fire'.
  • Shrines and Temples: In "Daughter of the Wind", Yoko seeks help in the Buddhist temple she used to pray in as a child.
  • Shorttank: Yoko is a grown-up version.
    • Emilia, the latest supporting cast member Yoko has accrued, is a traditional teen Shorttank.
  • Smug Snake: Ito Kazuky, Karl Moebius, Sir William and the Doctor.
  • Spin-Off: Yoko Tsuno is actually a spin off of another French-Belgian comic book called 'Jacky et Célestin' written by Leloup. Yoko made her debut in one story and Leloup liked her so much that he decided to set a new series around her. Jacky and Célestin became Expy of Vic and Pol.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Mac Nab from "The Prey and the Shadow" was one for Cecilia's Missing Mom, Lady Mary. He went as far as having an altar dedicated to Lady Mary in his house, including a mannequin built in likeness to her and dressed up in her wedding dress (which, according to him, was delivered by someone else after Mary's death). This mannequin is vital to derail Sir William's cruel Evil Plan and save Cecilia's life, though.
  • Starfish Aliens: The unnamed alien entity in "The Time Spiral" looks like a giant jellyfish.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Vic, to a degree.
  • Tap on the Head: Martial arts move often used to knock Yoko unconscious (L'or du Rhin). OTOH, Yoko uses it too, like in "Daughter of the Wind" when she quickly applies one to Kazuky's Mook. (Justified Trope: Yoko is an Aikidoka and the neck chop is a rather common Aikido move, named yonkomen)
  • The Final Frontier: Those adventures that take place in space.
  • The Plague: "The Astrologer of Bruges."
  • Time Travel: Monya's time machine, which is used on several occasions.
    • Also used by a Vinean colony that settled on massive rock formations orbiting giant stars. They periodically travel to the future to avoid the frequent hazardous storms and quakes. Yoko's ship the Ryu is also capable of traveling in time.
  • Title Drop: Almost every adventure has this trope invoked by someone, most of the time by Yoko.
  • Translation Convention: The Vineans have universal translators headsets that enable them to speak with humans. The Titans communicate telepathically with Vineans using telepathic transmitters.
  • Twin Desynch: Khany and Poky were young twins when they were placed into suspended animation. They were awoken at different dates, resulting Khany being an adult and Poky remaining a child.
    • A variation occurs in "The Twin Suns of Vinea": Poky and Khany's mother Sindah is found in stasis, having entered it when she was Khany's current age. As a result, mother and daughter now have the same biological age.
  • Under the Sea: "The Archangels of Vinea" is almost entirely set in a subaquatic environment.
  • Underwater Base: Queen Hegora's base in "The Archangels of Vinea". Also, Ito Kazuky has set up a secret missile launching complex on the very wreck of battleship Yamato.
  • We Can Rule Together. In "The Prey and the Shadow", Sir William's co conspirator, the mysterious doctor, tells Margaret as he holds her hostage that she should join his agenda and backstab Sir William, lest he kills her with poison. Margaret tearfully says no, and right then Vic and Yoko pull a Big Damn Heroes and save her.
  • Weather Control Machine: Used by Vineans to create a inhabitable environment, since their home planet has a synchronous rotation.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: In "Daughter of the Wind", Yoko's father has invented a weapon that creates localized typhoons.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Some stories play with the concept, done almost straight in the Titans.
  • Unobtainium: Gobol use a rare material called "vinadium". Its blue radiation, when refined and filtered, prevent his cells from aging and gives him energy-like attacks.
  • Wave Motion Gun: "Wotan's Fire" has a cannon powered by lightning energy. The Vineans' defense laser cannon in their homeworld's north pole.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Yoko started working with small jobs in electronics, then it evolve into working in TV/telecommunications. Later, she works as a test pilot, a government agent, a computer programmer, a secretary and even a model.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Ito Kazuky's company created a disintegration chamber. With the end of the Cold War, countries are desperate to get rid of their stockpile of nukes. However, the machine doesn't eliminate the radiation. Nonetheless, Kazuky advertise that his machine is fully functional. When countries will deliver him the warheads for disposition, he'll secretly keep them intact and well hidden. Presumably, he's going to resell them to the black market.
  • Yandere: Mac Nab from "The Prey And the Shadow" is an adult, male example. He also subverts it by, despite still obsessively loving the dead Mary, remaining focused enough to join Yoko's plan so they can save Cecilia and punish Sir William.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Yoko's mother, Masako. Justified, since Yoko is from a traditional Japanese family. And the comic itself started in The Seventies.
    • Might have been invoked in "The Devil's Organ", when Yoko shows up in a kimono and leaves everyone starstruck. She quickly subverts it by pointing the Moebius with a bayonet when Vic is accidentally shot and almost killed.

The novel L'écume de l'aube (The Foam of the Dawn) provide examples of:

  • Air Vent Passageway
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Yoko has been vying for Shinji since she was at least 8 years old. She lost him to Akina.
  • Continuity Nod: Many. Most of them are related to "Daughter of the Wind" and "The Dragon of Hong Kong":
    • Onoué buying a servant from Hong Kong and marrying her after falling in love with her.
    • Yoko's house where most of the novel take place.
    • Seiki's lab.
    • The Buddha temple.
    • Yoko and Aoki meeting for the first time.
    • A businessman interested in financing Seiki's research. He is only hinted, but readers will recognize him as Ito Kazuky.
  • Genre Savvy: Madam Kwan.
  • The Hero: Shinji act this way, being the leader of Yoko's band of friends.
  • Idiot Ball: How the Yoko's diamond pearl was stolen because of his father Seiki. He knew the pearl was unique and highly valuable. Fearing an unsuspected burglar might steal it, he had jeweler make a copy, but doesn't warn Yoko and doesn't check if the original that was returned was genuine. The theft would go unnoticed for many years.
  • Ill Boy: Wai, madam Kwan's son, is confined to a wheelchair.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Between Yoko and Aoki.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After seeing how Shinji loves Akina, Yoko painfully decide to let the pair be together.
  • Jerkass: Hiromi. She constantly criticize everyone and blames her father for her unhappiness.
  • The Lancer: Yoko to Shinji.
  • The Load: Akina, by her own admission.
  • Love Triangle: Between Yoko, Shinji and Akina.
  • Maiden Aunt: Yoko's detestable aunt Hiromi. While she's a widow, she fit the trope perfectly.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The Foam of the Dawn is a diamond-colored pearl created by Yoko's grandfather and given to her. While it's unique and highly valuable, it represent Yoko's childhood, memories and her close relationship with the patriarch. When it gets stolen, Yoko goes on her very first adventure to find it.
  • Secret Relationship: Shinji and Akina. No one knows when it started, but it wouldn't be discovered until Yoko reach 17 years old.
  • The Smart Guy: Nagayo. He wears glasses and his parents are architects. When Yoko's band of friends disband, Nagayo's parents assign him a private teacher for his weekend studies.
  • Tagalong Kid: Yoshio's young brother, Kiotaka. It doesn't last long however, as Yoko's friends part ways.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Yoko as the more adventurous one and Akina as the more feminine.

Notes

  1. (physics becomes Newtonian within a region of space that is devoid of light)
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