Monday, 4 June 2012

REVIEW/THOUGHTS [ANIME] -- Yakitate!! Japan

Number of Episodes: 69 [25-ish minutes each episode]
Language Watched: Japanese with English fansubs
Licensed? (As of this entry): No
Genre(s): Bread-making, Cooking Competition, Comedy, Drama
Overall Impression: Absolutely love this series and would recommend it always!

This review will contain some screenshots that will spoil a few things -- nothing story-related, but part of the excitement for this series is the surprise. A few of those surprises will be spoiled -- my deepest apologies.

PERSONAL STANDING (Pre-exposures, thoughts, etc.)
I was recommended this series years ago (around 2005?) by a friend. I don't remember what he said about it, but I got interested. At the time, Yakitate!! Japan was still running in Japan (as in, still airing new episodes on TV), so I held off on watching it until it finished (midway through 2006). If I can help it, I try to wait until a series is finished so I can watch it all in one sitting (in case it's that engaging and addictive).

When I finally watched it with my sister, we finished it pretty quickly (maybe two weeks?). It was awesome! The humor, the drama, the intense moments... and of course, the bread! After watching it, I had a greater appreciation for bread.

Yakitate!! Japan follows Azuma Kazuma, a young boy who aspires to create a bread that would specifically be known as a Japanese bread (just like how France has French bread and Germany has German bread). Azuma also possesses solar hands: hands that are warmer than normal hands which helps with bread baking (I think that's just a gimmick to establish him as a stronger than normal bread craftsman). He applies to work at Pantasia, one of the largest bread chains in Japan.

Azuma Kazuma

Add in some quirky characters, a rival bread chain, some high energy bread competitions, wacky taste reactions, some baking / bread knowledge and you've got Yakitate!! Japan.

Not every episode in Yakitate!! Japan is outlined in this way, but here's how a lot of them play out:

1. The Event / Assignment / Round
The objective gets laid out here. It's usually the next bread assignment.

2. The Challenge
Some problem or conflict surrounding the objective gets addressed.

3. The Solution
Often the solution isn't laid out so clearly, but you see the characters working away. It just adds to the intensity and suspense -- and keeps you guessing.

4. Taste Reaction and Outcome
In a competition round, judging occurs. When that happens, we get to see a ridiculous reaction to the bread, and the winner of that round is announced -- with detailed explanations of why.

5. Seed of Knowledge
After the episode's ending credits and preview is this mini segment called "Seed of Knowledge" where one of the characters gives some kind of fact on something mentioned in the episode. You know -- just to add some kind of educational value.

In between the layout are character interactions that add to the story and sometimes to their own individual motivations.

One aspect of Yakitate!! Japan that's super fun and entertaining is seeing the taste reactions of the various breads that are made throughout the series. It's done so over-the-top that it's ridiculous -- but in a good way. Here are a few screenshots to illustrate:

One bite elicits a blinding light of awe and delight.

Almost all of the reactions are also parodies, which just adds to the ridiculousness.

Recognize the parody here? ;)

Another fun and exciting aspect in Yakitate!! Japan is the anticipation of the created bread. Sometimes it looks like any typical kind of bread (with some amazing baking / cooking technique applied), but other times it looks very unique and cool. Here's a couple:

The mystery here is how the bread came out in a green colour. 
Bread should always have a brown colour when baked.

Can you spot the bread? ;)

The characters are generally quirky with a touch of humanness. Many of them are driven by something to continue their bread-making journey (or other ventures), and they're valid, justifiable reasons. While the bread creation and taste reactions tend to be crazy and out-of-this-world, the characters is what keeps this series grounded. The characters give you a chance to care.

The music is great. I like almost every ending theme (they go through a lot of them), and I like all the opening themes. I can't help but think that some of the tracks are probably parodies of music tracks used for other cooking shows. I remember thinking that one of the tracks at the start of the series was very similar to something I've heard before (I don't remember what anymore).


So... the manga came first, but it ended after the anime's run. There are 26 volumes in total. The anime and the manga are very similar to each other (which I like if the series was enjoyable in whichever format I first experienced it in).

While reading the manga, I was forming the opinion that it was better than the anime (not by much because the anime is already so awesome -- the taste reactions are way better animated). Then I continued reading... and the manga series started to take a weird turn. The comedy got weirder and the taste reactions got weirder. There were still some interesting challenges (like creating a bread that consumers could make themselves but would still buy from a bakery), but the weirdness just got too much.

So... I would recommend watching the anime series. The manga still has great storytelling and really nice artwork, but I'd suggest reading up to the end of volume 14. Here are a couple of pages of the manga (these are fan-scanlated pages, but I have the entire manga series -- had to get something to express my fandom since the anime hasn't been licensed). If you read these pages, read it from right to left.

Watch Yakitate!! Japan. It's a pretty old series now, but it's still great and fun. I mean, I still have yearnings to re-watch some episodes every now and then. It's also educational, but done in such an entertaining way (a big plus!). I wish it was licensed so I could own the DVDs.

It's because of this series that I have a greater appreciation for bread and a strong fascination for melon bread.


Thanks for reading! If you want some more input about something I didn't cover, feel free to ask. :)


  1. Ahoy there. Just want to write something so you don't get too excited. That new follower you got? It's me. Again. Sorry, but I can't seem to figure out how to un-watch you from my Twitter account so... Sorry about that.

    BUT! That said, I have a comment about this one. Your sister and I actually started watching this. A long time ago. It was a good show, like you said, but I just don't remember why we stopped.... We weren't very far in though. Maybe five eps tops.

    One thing though. The solar hands bit? Your sister doesn't have those cause of poor circulation. But I might have it.

    1. I don't have solar hands at all. I have the opposite. I remember that the first episode is a little slow, which could be why you stopped so early on.

      I think if you have no investment on the characters at all, then the series won't be as enjoyable.

      Maybe it's time you started kneading some bread and find out!

  2. "4. Taste Reaction and Outcome"

    ...hehe... sex

    When I started watching the show, I thought melon bread would be hella declicious. But it was actually kinda plain. I think I would have an easier time having more appreciating for other kinds of bread ever since i got to know some people who worked at cob's bread. I have a hard time watching past a few episodes for some reason. I think it's a good show to watch with people, in my opinion.

    1. Yeah, it would be a great show to watch with people. The laughter would spread like crazy.

      I've had melon bread before, but the plain one. I thought it was missing something, though still sweet and light. My fascination won't end until I try a melon bread with melon filling.

      Man... I'd like to know some people who work at a bread bakery. I have a small desire to try making some bread someday.

  3. You need a bread maker, basically.


    My sister's bf became head baker.