Yakitate means "fresh baked", but the word "Japan" is actually a pun - pan means bread in Japanese, so Kazuma is out to make Japan, a unique Japanese bread to compete with the best bread from around the world!
Azuma became obsessed with bread when he was six years old. His sister yelled that their family should start having bread for breakfast sometimes, but their grandfather refused to even consider it, as he would only eat natto, miso soup, and rice for breakfast. Kazuma agreed, saying he didn`t like bread, but his sister kidnaps him and takes him to a bread store to show him the wonders of fresh-baked bread. Not only is Kazuma converted, but the owner discovers that Kazuma has the magical "Hands of the Sun" whose warmth makes them particularly suited to making bread. The owner packs up shop and goes to Tokyo to fulfill his dream of making Japan, but Kazuma continues his bread-baking dream as well, and ends up going to Tokyo himself when he`s sixteen, to compete for a spot at the foremost bread store in Japan - Pantasia!
#1: "Sunday" by The Babystars (eps 01-12) #2: "To All Tha Dreamers" by SOUL'd OUT (eps 13-29) #3: "Hummingbird" by little by little (eps 30-42) #4: "Re: START" by SURFACE (eps 43-53) #5: "Merry Go Round" by Mai Hoshimura (eps 54-62) #6: "Kokoro Biidama" by RYTHEM (eps 63-68) #7: "Houkigumo" by RYTHEM (ep 69)
It's an anime about bread-making. It's utterly ridiculous sounding. And, to be honest, in practice, it's utterly ridiculous. But I really really enjoyed it. It puts a goofy smile on my face because it is SO over the top, SO campy, SO cheesy... I just have to laugh. It's an innocent, sweet and silly sort of anime. It's not realistic, it isn't serious or dark or sarcastic... it's just simply entertaining. Which, you know, is kind of refreshing.
The story's your basis shounen plotline: rise to the challenge, succeed, face the next challenge.. but all in the confines of
competitive bread making. It's a little silly and repetitive (like a lot of stories in the genre), but if you enjoy the first couple "bread battles," you'll probably like the rest (like a lot of stories in the genre). ;) (It's Pokemon, set in a bakery!)
The art is clean cut and pretty simple. So is the music. It's not nuanced or original, but it doesn't really have to be. The style suits the atmosphere of the show. The taste-reactions are elaborate and amusing, but other than that I wouldn't say there's much about the way it looks or sounds that stands out in any way.
The main characters are pretty basic once again. Again, you're probably going to be disappointed if you're looking for nuance or detail. The good guys, the bad guys... they're all kind of cardboard cut-outs of cliche shounen roles. And basically, the audience is just expected to accept them as they are without any explanation or even speculation as to why the character is the way he/she is.
Despite the lack of originality, detail or depth to the story, art, sound or characters... you should still watch this show. I gave the show a 9 overall because (1) I really do think the simplicity of the story, art, etc suits the nature of the show and (2) because my enjoyment completely outweighed whatever the series lacked in the other departments. I would have given it a 12 for enjoyment if I could.
The simplicity of it was like a breath of fresh air. It felt like a throwback out of the era of "Leave it to Beaver" or something innocent and uncomplicated like that. There are "darker" story lines later in the show, but they really weren't that dark. Meanwhile, the characters are all so over-exaggerated and silly that I found it charming, especially in the context of the world of competitive bread making. Kuroyanagi's crazy reactions were funny, but I really found the way he talked down to inferior bakers hilarious. To take something like bread-making and make it that abusive and have him take it that seriously... it just tickled me. Azuma's earnest, bleeding-heart sincerity and natural baking genius; the manager's bad-ass, macho wisdom... it was just so funny to see all these archetypes in a story about baking bread. =) (Kind of like a G-rated BeerFest.)
All in all, I think the show strikes me as child-like. Some of the characters are mean in the way that, frankly, kids are mean. It's pretty upfront, straightforward and kind of superficial. They show competition, optimism, determination and energy in the same way. It just feels like there's not very many layers to what's going on. Maybe that's what I mean by innocent?
Just to warn you though, I do feel that there was a definite decline in show quality towards the end -- most noticeable by the time they get to the third large scale competitive arena. It started feeling less sincere and more mass-manufactured, which was unfortunate. I try not to hold that sort of thing against the show too much, but... it was kind of disappointing.
On the upside, you get all this trivia about bread, bread-making and the regions of Japan from the show, which throws in a little educational frosting on top of an already entertaining show. ;)
Story: 9 (no story but excellent comedy segments)
Art: 6 (unimpressive art style but not bad either)
Sound: 8 (good comedy cant work without good sound)
Character: 7 (cliche characters but classic situations)
Enjoyment: 10 (never laughed so much in 50 episodes)
Overall: 40/50 = 8.0 (i love food i love comedy, instant classic)
Yakitate Japan is a PERFECT example of anything can be made in to a good shounen anime just as long it has the three key ingredients: chemistry, direction, and anticipation. This show turns a somewhat lame idea of an emerging baker and turns it to nonstop laughs and 'suspense'.
You're probably thinking, how can a baking
anime be suspenseful? Which brings me back to the point of you can make any anime great if its structured great (not necessarily a good story) . Since its practically impossible to have 'action' in a baking show, theres a laugh every minute. Throughout the show you'll encounter the same style of jokes 100's of times over, but the way they reinvent the jokes every episode and lace a few facts in every episode is what makes this show so fun to watch from beginning to end. I even managed to marathon it and i still had lots of laughs every episode. Not only are there baking jokes and cooking facts, they also manage ALOT of running gags, one-shot gags, play on words, and the star of the show: "the BREAD REACTION." If you have any sense of humor whatsoever, you will LOVE the reactions no matter how many times they play over and over. Also the 'factual' information is pretty informative as well... i never knew there was such thing as Bombay Blood or that the legendary japanese sticky rice was a specialty of Sakata city in the Yamagata prefecture. It is true though, the best comedy comes from real life information.
The since its geared toward children, art is standard quality thats very reminiscent to something like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, or Angelic Layer. That doesnt mean it looks terrible but when they want to emphasis something, they make it more detailed, and if something is supposed to be funny you'll get the 'flashy' backgrounds general stuff like that. Of course since they're parodying all the typical shounen anime, they do things WAAAYYY over the top and thats why i love this show so much as well. Not only do they take the time to make fun of itself, but they manage to make fun of the whole shounen style as much as possible!
The sound reminds me of a mix of Pokemon meets Iron Chef. Overly serious with slapstick everywhere else :) It all works very well. Music is everywhere but its never intrusive. And I love it when an anime isn't afraid to add a fart joke or two. Sure its not refined, but its a comedy and toilet humor is such a lost art these days.
The characters are also just pure greatness when it comes right down to it. You have a good mix of serious, outrageous, confident, cute, sexy characters that you're bound to like 3 or 4 of them. Some of them are used simply for joke executions, others are used as support for Azuma, but all of them are definitely going to be used in a joke or two. "NANDATO!!!" and "UMAIIII" will be etched in your mind forever. Mind you that none of them are unique or original in anyway but since they are pretty cliche' take on the shounen comedy that turns out to be hilarious in its own right.
After watching this show from start to finish, I know some will love it and some will simply hate it just for the fact that its so out of this world. But for those who love it, they'll have their own reasons in to loving it. As weird at it may seem, I enjoyed the bread reactions and cooking facts more than anything else in this show. But in retrospect, someone might hate the show for the exact same reasons. On top of that, it never stops to take the time to make fun of itself as well :) I only recommend this to someone who absolutely loves a fun comedy anime and has an open mind to the wacky, crazy universe that is Fresh Baked Japan!!
...and yes they make a cannabis bread (so much for children's show ^_^)
Also watching this you will notice that Black Star of Soul Eater is an exact replica of Azuma Kazuma (not Naruto -_-)
Story: The story is focused on baking. It sounds like an odd thing to base an Anime upon but it's one of the reasons this series is great. This is quite a unique and very enjoyable take on a show. I really liked the way it was going from the beginning. It had great potential with hilarious jokes, weird but clever puns and great (For the most part) characters, but then it started to get boring. Each new arc kept getting dryer and dryer because it's just bread-making tournament after bread-making tournament with several re-used jokes that aren't funny. Then again, I don't know where
the series would go if it wasn't like that. The educational facts are interesting and the explanations of how the characters win are as exciting as a Detective Conan mystery. Unfortunately I don't know what they're talking about but hey, nothing wrong with that. The end of the series was a little disappointing but overall a fine story.
Art: Some episodes looked great, a few were pretty bad. I hate those little black vertical scratches under the characters' eyes, if those ever make it into an Anime, it'll force me drop the score for art. They serve no purpose, they just mess up the character's face... Overall though, the animation was simple but not horrible.
Sound: Nothing worth getting the Ost(s) for, a couple of the tracks are memorable but that's because they play it so often. A few of the Openings and Endings got my attention. You can find several cool songs here. Voice actors did a fine job, no problems there. However one character called Mizuno, was so annoying to listen to.
Character: Almost a perfect 10 if it wasn't for what they did to Kawachi. In the beginning he knew what he was doing as a baker but around the last arc and a bit before he was failing big time (Like Kuwabara from Yu Yu Hakusho, but the failures aren't funny, just pathetic). The last arc pretty much used him as a filler character, he didn't even get to participate in his team anymore. He was just there to reuse bad jokes.
As for the characters overall, I really liked them and you really feel for them because a few of them have difficult pasts. The characters that receive development did gain some respect from me so I'd say things worked out in that department. Most of the characters are just for jokes though and support Azuma from the sidelines but I still think they're entertaining to watch.
Enjoyment: I kept watching it episode after episode when I started. I was pretty hooked. Then it got repetitive at the end, I had to force myself to finish the last 5 episodes but for a 69 episode series, me watching consistently for so many episodes is rare which shows how much I liked it.
Overall: It was a fresh take on Shounen Anime and I really enjoyed it. I need to thank the guy who recommended it to me. It's also interesting to go back and re-watch some of the episodes. It made me want to become a baker because it was so cool to watch them make such amazing creations. I'm sure it has that effect on many people who have seen it.
Thank you for reading my review. Feedback would be greatly appreciated. Hope this helped.
With Shokugeki no Soma recently finished airing, viewers may want to watch a similar type of anime, and indeed, the joy of cooking is upon us with Yakitate!! Japan, which main focus lies on the creation of bread. Now some may wonder if it is worthy of their time, and it this case it is, but to a certain extent, as the anime falls apart later on.
The premise of Yakitate!! Japan is of simple nature, Azuma Kazuma a young boy in his quest to make the best bread that identifies with Japan and is able to compete at an international level, called "japan". Throughout the
anime viewers realize how bread making is actually nothing simple, but a complicated process which involves a lot of specific knowledge on ingredients, as well as techniques. The anime manages to convey these very well by explaining those in detail, but never in excess. In earnest, the amount of techniques that exist was unexpected.
Naturally, creation of bread on its own can be rather dull, so competitions between different contestants and aspirants of the world of baking are introduced (tournament style) ranging from rookies to famous and top-tier bakers from different countries. To show the audience how excellent a bread is, reactions are shown, which are hilarious and fitting to each bread theme it offers. Verbal jokes are often made as well, which at times can be very amusing.
Up to this point it may seem very positive and engaging, yet as the story progresses, the show's quality declines significantly. First of all, throughout the whole anime all the secondary characters are used once, to be rendered insignificant later on, essentially making this anime a one-man-show composed of Azuma. The power levels are imbalanced as it can get in a shōnen. In addition, events that take place as story progresses get out of hand and begin to be ridiculously over the top, such as assassination attempts. Jokes and reactions are no exception either: in the last half gags get repeated constantly to the point of being annoying, and reactions begin to even affect audiences, instead of being individual reactions. Not to mention the wrong and bad use of parodies to other famous series which was introduced in the last half of the series.
The is a wide variety of characters in Yakitate!! Japan, some memorable, some outright annoying, all with a personality, but very generic and stereotypical characters. Azuma is your typical one-dimensional shōnen characters whose only objective is to complete "japan" and undergoes near to zero character development or character fleshing; in fact, he seems to posses all knowledge about baking that there is at his age of 16, making it a rather tensionless watch, as he wins competitions effortlessly and get hints through convenience of the plot.
The supporting cast is rather lackluster as well, all being one-dimensional undergoing almost no character development. Villains are very typical with no motives, opponents as well. There are nevertheless some interesting characters personality-wise, such as the case of Kuroyanagi or the baker with the afro, Matsushiro. However, background stories are almost non-existent, and it is hard to relate to the characters in any way.
~Animation and sound~
Animation quality of Yakitate!! Japan is nothing outstanding, yet fulfills its purpose well enough to convey the different reactions characters have, as well as being consist throughout the entire anime. Backgrounds are varied when needed, and character designs matched with the personality of most of the cast. However, mostly they were generic and nothing out the norm.
As for the sounds used, some soundtracks were memorable and well done, yet were overused throughout the whole show as no new compositions were made. The dialogues were of simplistic nature, and the gags that were repeated became soon old, and pretty annoying.
Yakitate!! Japan was overall somewhat enjoyable experience, being the first half a good experience, proceeding to fall apart as story progressed. How bread making was displayed was well done, as well as the use of different ingredients and techniques. The reactions and comedy was amusing to watch, until it was rehashed and novelty left. This anime would have been much better off by halving the duration of it, as the second half felt unnecessary and was very lackluster, in addition with undesirable characters.
There’s just something about anime food that makes us drool with desire, and food has been the main theme of various anime series. If you’re looking to satisfy your food and anime cravings all in one go, get a taste of these fun and interesting cooking anime series.