One night, a Star of Life falls down the chimney of a bakery nestled deep in the forest, causing the dough in the oven to come to life. The dough becomes Anpanman, a superhero made of anpan (a sweet roll with bean jam filling). Together with his friends, Anpanman fights his rival Baikinman and helps the malnourished.
#01: "Yuuki Rin Rin" by Dreaming (October 1988 ~) #02: "Christmas no Tani" by Dreaming (April 1989 ~ April 1991) #03: "Anpanman Taisou" by CHA-CHA-CHA (December 1991 ~ February 1993) #04: "Anpanman Taisou" by Dreaming (March 1993 ~ March 2010) #05: "Sun Sun Taisou" by Dreaming (October 1994 ~ March 2010) #06: "Niji o Tsukuru Uta" by Rainbow Fukuzawa and Sutatan Tai (May 1997 ~ April 2003) #07: "DoReMiFa Anpanman" by Dreaming (April 2003 ~ March 2010)
This is a redone re-post of an old review. As of first writing this review (Oct-16-2013), this still-airing series had crossed 25 years, and just the day before, its creator Yanase Takashi had just passed away at a grand old age of 94, and I was in something of a hurry to do a review-cum-tribute for the occasion. Now that I have had much more time (and more importantly not sleep-deprived), I thought I'd do it over properly this time. Still relying on very old memories here, just so you know.
Anpanman is a household name in Japan among kids of all ages. It's as
ubiquitous as Mickey Mouse is in the west, and occupies pretty much the same spot. Only, Anpanman is wittier and more self-aware, and doesn't condescend to kids. Instead, it respects their intelligence and budding irony, even while maintaining a fairly innocent and good-natured spirit.
The characters are the biggest draw of the show - Anpanman and his doughy counterparts have personalities to match their substance, and are perfect fodder (often quite literally) for character-based gags of the best sort. The villains are spunky and spirited, and the way they play off each other also makes for some of the best humour in the show. And as you may have heard, they keep coming up with new characters at an astounding rate (as you may also know, this show set the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of new characters ever introduced in any TV series). And yet their designs always feel fresh and new, never feel dated.
Moving on to the plot/premise: I just loved the simple yet inventive setup - Uncle Jam and his bakery powering the whole motley crew of superheroes and all the rest of it. The stories are episodic, and sometimes follow predictable lines, but every time there's some new twist and the plotlines never feel overused. Of course, it also helps that they keep introducing a new character almost every other episode, so they have a new story each time.
Then there's the artwork. There is something about the simplicity of the design that seems to strike the right note even today. Notice especially those snow-capped peaks in the distance: just notice the fresh, crisp feel it lends to the whole environment - someone's been doing something very, very right there. Remember, this style has been carried over from 1988. And even today it feels fresh as ever. Just take a look for yourself if you don't believe me.
Now I need to give a special mention to the voice characterisations here - I have only watched the English dub myself, so I can't really comment if this is part of the original show, or something ad-libbed by wise-cracking English dubbers. The thing is this - you are watching this innocent kiddie show, with its innocent kiddie plot unfolding - and somewhere something seems out of place. You pay more attention, and then you notice it - you hear the narrator snidely remarking at the oddity of everything that's been happening on-screen. Nothing too nasty of course - this is a kids' show after all - but the timing and delivery is so uncanny, it makes you do a double-take. It may not be to everyone's tastes (not everyone seems to take well to the silliness of the whole thing), but I personally thought it was brilliant.
All in all, 28 years on and Anpanman continues to delight audiences with its freshness and inventiveness, all the while supported by an underlying warmth and simplicity, and not to mention its wryly humorous heart.
Soreike! Anpanman (Let's Go! Anpanman) has been airing since 1988, and it's still marching on. It's not hard to see why.
The animation is outstanding; the sheer simplicity of Anpanman's design is just so cute! Everything (and everyone) is smoothly drawn, no rough details, and his world looks amazing.
As far as sound goes, it appears that some sound effects were later used by the 2005 Doraemon series on Terebi Asahi. I'm not marking it down for this, I'm just pointing it out. Voice acting is great; Keiko Toda (Anpanman) does a great job of voicing the character. There's also a lot of variety in their voice
actors; from Melonpanna-chan's higher, kawaii-type voice, and Batako-san's positive, yet gentle tone, there's truly something special behind them.
The music is amazing; at the start of the show, I can't help but sing along to the "Anpanman no Machi" every time I hear it. Every other piece of music (from background to ending credits) is well composed and placed, and combined with the sound effects and voice actors, it really stands out from his rivals (be it Shimajiro, Doraemon, Sazae-san or anyone else in the Kodomo anime field).
The characters themselves are amazing; There's always something different about each one of them. They all have their own personalities, and none of them look like they were cloned or copy/pasted in. They are all very easy to relate to.
In my opinion, this is one of the most enjoyable anime series that I have ever seen. I could watch it again and again, and never get tired of it. It's so open and accessible, and when the episode ends, I'm left begging for more.
What a great show. One last thing to say - Bai-baikin!
I bet many anime fans think that One Piece has been airing forever. But it isn't anything compared to the classics on this list! Come learn about the 15 longest running anime series in Japan, very few of which have been released overseas!
Like all artforms, anime has been subject to censorship around the globe. The cases in this list, however, went beyond your typical TV edits and resulted in whole episodes or even full series being either banned by governments or withheld from broadcast due to outside pressure.