Review: Yakitate!! Japan
About: Germany, France, England, countries across the world all have their own signature bread, bread good enough to carry their countries name. But Japan does not have such a bread. A young boy named Azuma Kazuma has set out to fix this by creating the ultimate "Japan", a bread good enough to replace rice as the Japanese staple. In pursuit of this, Kazuma joins the countries leading bakery chain "Pantasia" and he competes with his bread against other bakers whilst perfecting his own Japan. Kazuma also has a secret weapon, he possesses the fabled Solar Hands, hands so warm that they maintain the perfect 30degree temperature to allow the yeast to ferment faster than other bakers and creating seemingly impossible feats. Coupled with Kazuma's unlimited imagination for new recipies (although often turning out to be the same techniques as already made breads), Azuma is an almost unstoppable force in the subject of bread making.
Review: With the recent popularity of the anime "Food Wars", I felt it was about time we brought this anime to peoples attention. Similar to Food Wars, Yakitate Japan is full of food competitions with over the top reactions and comical reactions. The ever present St.Piere, Japan's number 2 bread chain, serves for an interesting competition for Azuma and his collegues in the Pantasia subsiduary branch which is situated across the road from St.Piere's main branch resulting in them having poor business and risk shutting down.
Unlike Food Wars, Yakitate Japan is a much more child friendly series as it does not feature clothe ripping for reactions, but instead works with puns on the special ingredients of the bread. Whether it be an indian bread which makes the eater think they want curry and their mind is filled with images of India, or a bread that makes those who eat it collapse on the floor and go to heaven for a short period of time. Yakitate Japan ballances the moronic comedy with the more serious story of the battle over control of Pantasia in an almost perfect way.
Yakitate Japan's main failing is probably that the last couple rounds in the last competition which makes the end of the series seem somewhat rushed with little explanation. However, this does not ruin the series as one of the best food based anime I have ever read.
When reading the manga, although Kazuma is shown to be somewhat idiotic, he is aware of Tsukino. In the anime Kazuma is slightly more idiotic than his manga counterpart, and he seems far more oblivious to Tsukino as a woman who evidently has a crush on him early on in the series.
If you are looking for romance, Yakitate Japan does not really deliver much in this aspect, but it does have some of the best characters an anime could ever have. Whether it be Kuroyanagi Ryou of the main branch, or the international competition judge Pierro, their reactions and abilities will leave you laughing for hours.
Guidance: This series is good for all audiences, though the jokes may be hard to understand for a younger audience as many relate to japanese language puns and japanese history. Though they explain these historical references, it may bore younger audiences.