The "cute and soft bread four-panel manga" centers around Minami, an air-headed girl who is starting high school and who loves eating bread for breakfast. Baked goods bring happiness everyday to her and her classmates the reliable Yuu, the pastry-baking Fuyumi, and the independent Noa.
I didn't expect to have strong feelings going into Pan de Peace. I expected it to be a simple short that wouldn't take much investment, and indeed, when it did begin to air, I didn't really care about it. However, that feeling of mere apathy didn’t last for long. As it became more and more apparent that the show would not amount to anything, it was quickly replaced by a desperateness to find some modicum of significance in what was essentially a void of nothingness. As such, in this review, in addition to giving an honest evaluation of the show in question, I will also
describe my quest to find meaning in the meaningless.
Upon first inspection, and second inspection, and pretty much every inspection afterwards, Pan de Peace appears to be a disgustingly generic moe show. The characters are cute in their design but have no character development whatsoever. The episodes feature the mildest of problems that always get cleanly resolved, with no lessons learned. A new type of bread is consumed every episode, the girls are happy, and we move on to the next episode. This simple story analysis would conclude that Pan de Peace’s story suffers from both the stagnation and mediocrity of typical slice-of-life anime and the difficulty of creating a worthwhile story with such a short episode runtime.
The average reviewer would right now rate the story 4/10 or so, and move on to discussing the sound or visuals. However, I’m now going to radically diverge and describe my deeply personal interactions with the story.
About 5 episodes into the show, I came to the conclusion presented above. I decided that Pan de Peace was a meaningless show, had no importance, and was worth nobody’s time. Yet for some reason, I kept watching, with newfound determination. It was my job and mine alone to find meaning and value in Pan de Peace, the most seemingly meaningless show.
And once I started thinking, I quickly came up with some purpose. You see, Pan de Peace is actually a brilliant social commentary on feminism. We see this from the very beginning, when Minami is worried that she will be unable to make friends in her new class. Her progressive views have often left her isolated in the past, so when she encounters several fellow bread buddies (read: lesbians), she is ecstatic to have found a community where she can share her views.
When the cast dons maid uniforms during their school's cultural festival, this isn't just some cheap fanservice. Rather, these girls are aware of the cultural practices in place, and are working within the system for their own benefit. After noticing one of their friends becoming overweight, they have a discussion on fat positivity and whether it’s a good thing or not. Another one is is an early episode they discuss the merits of sex-positive feminism and how it divides the Second and Third Waves of the movement. One of my favorites is when the girls collectively agree that Ayn Rand was a hypocrite and hater of strong women (for context, their argument is that Ayn Rand’s objectivism supported free will, but she herself said that homosexuality should be treated as a lesser to heterosexuality, and that women should find men to marry and worship as heroes. These views strip lesbians and independent women of their free will, clashing with Rand’s Objectivist movement).
Mai, the final character to be introduced, is an interesting one. She only shows up for the final 5 episodes, much later to the party than anyone else. While everyone else in the Pan de Peace friend group seemed to have joined over a mutual interest in bread and discourse, Mai seems to be in it for personal interests. She has taken an interest in Noa, but instead of pursuing a healthy relationship, Mai fetishizes her. She spends the next string of episodes manipulating the other characters into liking her, so she can wedge her way into the friend group. She is truly a despicable character that acts against all of the values that the show otherwise displays, and the decision to give her a full story arc is a strange one, especially since all the other episodes stand alone. While some may argue that Mai is meant to be a foil to the rest of the cast, I still can’t get past how much I hate her character and her arc.
And all of that is the gist of Pan de Peace’s story. While you may say “but none of these things are even remotely close to mentioned in the dialogue”, my counter is that it’s all in the subtext! With a deeper reading you understand that the titular bread is actually a metaphor for lesbianism. Whenever one character offers another bread, she is generally either affirming their sexual orientations or signifying a desired or existing relationship with the other. There’s a specific episode where Noa’s sister exclaims “[Noa] eats bread all the time. I wish she’d eat some rice instead.” This is a fantastic example of how the show depicts both feminists and traditionalists. While Noa, like the other main characters, is a woman who is both proud of her sexuality and demands that she be validated and respected as much as anyone else, Noa’s sister is more socially conservative. She wishes that Noa would just settle down with a nice man (as rice is obviously indicative of heterosexuality), and while her views may have been accepted in the social climate of yesterday, she comes off as bigoted more and more as society shifts towards feminist progressivism. What is the takeaway of this moment? That’s up to you to decide.
And pondering takeaways is what I did. Most episodes had at least one fantastic quote like that, which successfully frame the social issue each episode is about. At the end of the episode, you’re left with an expanded viewpoint on the issue in question, and you’re left to your own pondering. And I must say, this quiet time at the end actually did help me become more confident in my viewpoints and opinions.
Pan de Peace helped me realize the true intersectionality of feminism. It’s hard to even call it a single unified movement. Under the banner are a plethora of sub-issues, everything from sex-positivity to transgender rights to wage equality. There are so many issues that it’s impossible for someone to try and take on every single one of them. Under the umbrella of feminism are all sorts of movements and people, but they all share a goal of trying to make the world a better place for women, and by extension, everyone. Anyone can be a feminist, and as long as they’re not being problematic, there’s no reason to call someone out on not being a “true feminist” or something like that. All you have to do is find the issues you are most passionate about and the problems you have the most agency in solving, and get to work. Even just talking to others about feminism and answering their questions is doing great work.
But I digress. It’s time to return to the anime at hand. The biggest issue with Pan de Peace is that nobody else will be able to get the same value and purpose out of it that I did. Most of the conclusions I drew out of Pan de Peace were created by analyzing subtext for themes that I decided to inject into the show because I was so distressed that it had no real meaning. On its own, Pan de Peace has no meaning or purpose. Of course, that makes it a bad show in almost everyone’s eyes, and for that reason I won’t be giving it a good overall score. But interestingly enough, it was that total lack of meaning that caused me to find meaning in Pan de Peace. In an absence of values, I was able to essentially make each episode into an argument with myself. By interpreting the dialogues as discourse over feminism, I was able to come to terms with my internalized progressive views. If there's value in having meaning, then there must also be value in not having meaning, as it creates a void that meaning can be forced upon.
I realize now that if I had written a solely formalist, critical review of this show, it would have just as little value as the show itself. You already know that this show is bad. You saw the low MAL score and you’ve probably read other reviews that start by saying that Pan de Peace is terrible. But by writing this review, I was able to release the value I got from this out into the world. I hope that by reading this, you were able to glean some of that meaning that I found and wrote about.
I don’t really want you to watch Pan de Peace. Maybe you should if you think you can come up with your own valuable interpretations. But if you do decide to watch and reanalyze this show, or if reading this review has left you with newfound viewpoints and thoughts, please share them. Write your own MAL review, comment in the forums or on my profile, I don’t really care what you do or how. But do your best to get it out there. The value you personally find in the media you consume deserves to be shared with others. The world could always use more intelligent yet personally meaningful discourse, and it’s up to you, the reader, to do your part.
Normally, my opinion on short form is that it usually doesn’t hurt anything to give it a try. Worst case scenario, you lose three minutes of your life. Pan de Peace! is, in my opinion, an exception to this rule.
Pan de Peace! is a Slice of Life comedy that focuses entirely on four girls and how their friendship strengthens over their mutual love of bread. Yeah, you read that right. No, that doesn’t make much sense to me either. To be honest I watched this mostly just to see how a show about bread could be about anything. And I know it’s
a Slice of Life and all, but as Dewey once said in Malcolm in the Middle, “I didn’t expect anything and I’m still disappointed.”
The characters are forgettable at best, and generic at worst. You have your quiet loli, your boisterous protagonist who is overeager to make friends, a girl whos thing is being lazy, etc. The short form is usually used to make quick, punchy dialogue that is usually funny but this seems to miss that point.
The only saving grace of this show is the visuals. It’s cute. It’s generic and simple and safe, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t crack a smile every time they made a cat face when they had a piece of bread in their mouths (and of course you know they did that a lot).
- Cute to look at
- Mindless moe (for those who like that sort of thing)
- Misuse of the short form format
- Characters are even more 2D than usual and forgettable
If I'm going to be honest, Pan De Peace! is the most boring thing I have ever seen, I'm going to make this short.
Bread... if I had to describe this story it's... bread. Just 4 characters eating bread. It's so simple that it would be hard, almost impossible to make it work. Even if it did work, the story is just 4 girls in a bakery talking, then eating bread then it ends.
I will give this show credit where it is due, the art looks incredibly cute, I honestly love the look of the characters, Aizawa Yuu and Sakura Nao are the
cutest. The animation looks really nice as well, not the best but okay.
Not to say the voice acting is bad or anything, but honestly I found the majority of these characters annoying. I don't know why, the main characters [Tani Minami] voice is the worst out of all of them
Really bland characters that all like bread. If I need to say more, I can't if I tried hard enough, but I will. Aizawa is the smart one, Nao is the cute one, Fukagawa is the jealous one, and Tani is the bready main character. Never seen such 1d characters in a show before.
Nothing more then bland characters, a lame story, with annoying voice acting with awful character delvopment, I rate Pan de Peace! A 2/10
A perfect show. A flawless masterpiece. I've never seen a show quite like Pan de Peace. Every character is super relatable and also really funny and cute. I'm constantly filled with the desire to research this show again and again because you can finish it in less than an hour. Compared to other anime, this show is so much more enjoyable. The art is simple and pleasant. The music is soft and comforting. This show gets a bad rap for being like other highschool girl anime, and it is indeed very similar. However Pan de Peace succeeds where others fail. It takes the established highschool
girl anime plot and perfects it. There are no distractions from the plot, and every episode has a deep specific meaning that you need to find for yourself. On the surface, this show seems simple, but the truth is that it is actually a perfect show, and it's unfortunate that many people don't seem to understand that.