Kogepan is the tale of a burnt piece of bread going through an existential crisis because nobody wants to buy him. It's all of half an hour long, with each episode being 4 minutes long, much like Fireball. It came recommended from 2 different people, and when two completely different people with no connection to each other and totally different tastes recommend an animation short aimed at children from over 10 years ago, you should probably pay attention. That's assuming Kogepan is aimed at children, which I find hard to believe since the DEEP THEMES of Kogepan will fly straight over the head. You
see, Kogepan is all a metaphor for old age.
Japan has a culture of fetishising youth to the point that a woman is considered old and past it once they reach the age of around 30. Not that this is solely a trait of Japan or anything, but the concept is definitely more prevalent there. If you're old, nobody wants you anymore. You are, as Kogepan would put it, a burnt piece of bread. Nobody in the shop wants to buy you anymore, something poor old Kogepan gets supremely jealous about.
This really isn't a stretch of metaphorical analysis here. The freshly baked breads have squeaky young voices and are described as being young and full of energy and innocence. Meanwhile Kogepan trudges about the shop with a forlorn look on his face. He tries occasionally to make himself look more like the younger breads. He works out, goes jogging, takes baths in milk so his skin looks more fresh. He even at one point tries to slather himself in ridiculous looking makeup (aka icing and sprinkles) after he sees some of the younger breads doing it. That is, until his friend and fellow piece of burnt bread Creampan walks in on him. Imagine you just walked in on your 50-year-old mate slathering himself in fake tan and trying on ladies underwear and you'd have a rough idea of what Creampan's reaction was.
Ironically, but importantly, all the young beautifully baked breads admire Kogepan. While he may get angry when they jump about with their seemingly unlimited energy, stopping to lecture them about good bread behaviour, the young breads all stop and listen to him. They have huge respect for Kogepan, because behind his crusty (har har) old man behaviour, he genuinely cares about the breads and tries to help them get sold. Also he gives them alcohol (aka milk) and we all know there's no better way to get on a young person's side then provide them with alcohol.
It gets to the point where one of the younger breads, in wide-eyed young love, completely falls for Kogepan and tries to be just like him. She covers herself in soot and tries to blend in with the other burnt breads, but just ends up coughing and spluttering and getting soot in her eyes. Kogepan, who had been in grumpy old man mode for the rest of that day because he was chasing away cockroaches that had gotten in to the shop, just helped clean her up and give a soft lecture on finding your own dreams. The next day, she's happily sold and Kogepan looks on proudly, and yet a bit sadly as another bird leaves the nest.
I really wish there had been more episodes, because every episode managed to introduce something new and interesting to the Kogepan world. I loved the charcoal bread character, who had spent over 3 hours in the oven. Even the other regular burnt breads look up to him in awe. He is basically a war veteran, speaking of his time deep in the oven and how conspiracy theories were flying around down there. Also while Kogepan sticks to his milk, Charcol bread is hardcore and drinks hard liquor (aka coffee milk).
Strawberry bread is pretty great too. She's the New Hot Thing in Town, which gets Kogepan particularly pissed off because he thinks she's just getting by on gimmicks, doncha know bread is a staple of the family, people don't buy it for its looks etc. He actually uses the line "kids these days", which rather upsets poor little strawberry bread, who puts up a strong and heartfelt defence of her strawberry filling. Kogepan finally sees that, behind the popularity, Strawberry Bread is a bread who works hard to reach where she is, and is actually kinda lonely because she's always sold so quickly she never gets a chance to make friends.
Then Kogepan gets her drunk and I'm pretty sure sleeps with her...
...but let's not make this review weird.
Back to the old age metaphor, while Kogepan might not be considered attractive material to be purchased in this day and age, he has fellow Kogepan friends and all the young breads look up to his experience. On the occasions Kogepan breaks out of his not-so-secret wish to be purchased just like all the younger breads, he can see that he lives a truly happy life in his own right.
Basically Kogepan is fucking great and you should watch it.
Kogepan is the badass of the bakery. His life began as any other bread, filled with hope of being nestled in a paper bag in the hands of a customer, but that dream ended when he fell to the bottom of the oven and burned. Cast aside by the baker, he spends his days drinking with his friend Kuriimupan and resenting the other breads that live his lost dream. Some of the cute little Kireipan are drawn to his brooding personality, but Kogepan knows that their time together is brief. He is a stern and sometimes frightening teacher.
Caution to sensitive viewers: There is one
questionable scene where Kogepan gets the strawberry bread, Ichigopan (so hot! but I swear I am not a panofile) wasted on milk. When she keels over backwards, Kogepan wonders to himself "What should I do"? The question goes unanswered, but in the following scene, Ichigopan glows with bliss. We can only imagine.
Story: 7 - Elements of tragedy, romance, friendship, and the culinary arts. Some arcs remain unresolved (does Sumipan find love?), but not bad for 40 minutes.
Art: - 7 - Some will call it minimalist. Some will call it lazy. I like the way the lines wiggle.
Sound: 8 - Nice bouncy tunes that make you want to eat bread.
Characters: 8 - About as thorough as most full length anime series. It's amazing what can fit in a 5 minute episode without fight scenes or philosophical monologues.
Enjoyment 9 - Probably would have been a 10 if I had another cup of sake.
Story: This anime is clearly meant for a young audience. The story is laced with life lessons. I rated the story a 7 because of the life lessons for the children.
Art: This anime has literally ten minute episodes and since it is meant for a younger audience, the art is childish. It is effective though because of the characters which I will explain later.
Sound: The music doesn't stand out too much. I did find myself laughing at the music a couple of times, but it is still effective because of the intended audience.
Character: The main character is a burnt piece of bread. His story is
sad which will withdraw some sympathy from the viewer. At least it did for me. The supporting roles are also cute. I rated the characters 7 because for a childs show, the characters actions and feelings are well done.
Enjoyment: From a childs point of view I can see this anime being very interesting. From a teenagers point of view however, it is simply just cute. I won't say it was a waste of time however because it only took me an hour or less to watch it.
Overall: Overall I can only explain it with the word cute, which I have used a lot during this review. It was fun to watch. I rated it six overall because it is very simple, and a good thing to watch if you are bored.
"...Are you really gonna watch an anime about a BREAD??" - a friend who's pretty much done with me
Yes, I've watched an anime about a bread, but it actually felt like watching a life lesson. If this is some child's childhood then I'm so, so happy for them.
Kogepan may be an anime about a burnt bread, but it's full of deep themes like friendship, old age and being different. Which is... something I didn't really expect. And it hit me right in the kokoro.
Anyway, the art is well sitting for this type of show and the same goes for the sound. I will probably
watch it again... once or twice. Or more.
...Whoever you are, you should go watch it.