Dimwitted Azuma Kazuma is a young man with a dream -- to create a bread worthy of the name "Japan", made by the Japanese people, for the Japanese people! With hefty bread-making skills, hands that have an uncanny warmth to help dough ferment, and will power like no other, Kazuma must put his delicious creations to the test as he struggles to become employed at the prestigious Pantasia bakery, for fame and glory! Yeast, beware... Kazuma is in the kitchen!
He’s Here!! The Boy With the Hands of the Sun!
Maharajah!! The Day Mt. Fuji Fell!
Charred!! Is this the Ultimate Claus Swann!?
Neigh!! Make Good Grazing Bread!
Not Baaaad!! Ultimate Butter Is the Clincher!
It's the Main Store!! The Dancing Meister!
Doc Shock!! Secret Sauce Transformation!
Kawachi Prime!! The Gauntlets of the Sun!
I Won't Lose!! I'll Fight Ya with Osaka Bread!
Their Respective Beginnings!! Pantasia's Rookie Competition Opens!
Riffraff Scum!! Kazuma Chooses the Worst Butter!
Kazuma Failed!? Ultra C to the Rescue!
StoryDisclaimer: This series is completely ridiculous, utterly ludicrous, and deliciously absurd. If you are a serious baker, patissier or have simply undergone a sense-of-humour bypass, then it’s probably best that you turn back now. If not, then leave your hat, coat and common sense at the door and prepare for some freshly baked fun! Yakitate!! Japan follows young baking genius, Kazuma Azuma, on his quest to create the ideal ‘Ja-pan’ – a pun-a-licious bread that perfectly sums up the Japanese nation – in the same way that the French have the baguette and the Italians have the ciabatta. In order to further his mission, the dim-witted Kazuma begins working at the most revered chain bakery in Tokyo: Pantasia. The series’ sixty-nine (yes, sixty-nine) episodes consist of Kazuma and his new colleagues participating in one increasingly unbelievable tournament after another. Sounds pretty crappy right? Well, it is. Luckily though, the whole show is one massive parody, and Yakitate!! Japan’s inherently stupid nature becomes its greatest asset. So much of Yakitate!! Japan‘s humour comes from how seriously the characters take each tournament, as if it were a serious battle to the death – and with katana-wielding samurai, Kai, getting riled up over his croissants, it occasionally seems like a bloodbath could follow. Fortunately, the series knows how completely rubbish its premise is and plays on it to great effect, most noticeably in the various characters’ reactions to the latest delicious loaf, which are, without a doubt, the series’ highlight. From a bizarre loquat-based parody of Lord of the Rings, bulldozers smashing holes in kitchen walls and a crazy clown that has mastered the multi-clone technique, to bread that makes judges strip down to their underwear, turns back time and literally sends you to heaven, Yakitate!! Japan defies expectations and pushes the boundaries of believability with each passing episode. Like all longer series, Yakitate!! Japan has its flaws. Many plot elements are predictable, especially as Kazuma always seems to have the perfect bread for each occasion. Though part of its charm, the whole series seems like Pokemon with bread and I half expect Kazuma to whip out a small dough ball at any moment and yell: Ja-pan number 53, I choose YOU! Also, while it remains humorous throughout, the novelty does inevitably dissipate. Though the Monaco Cup arc revitalises the plot by continually going one step beyond with its lunacy, the following ‘Yakitate 9’ arc drags somewhat and despite managing to raise a smile, the jokes wear a bit thin. Also, the final episode is exceedingly rushed given its content, particularly when preceding this was an entire twenty-four minutes documenting a single bread reaction.AnimationThe bright and more simplistic visuals remain consistent throughout the show. Utilising standard anime trademarks to reiterate a character’s state of mind, such as dark wavy lines signalling depression, Yakitate Japan’s animation encapsulates its comedic tone. However, the anime’s most impressive imagery is the bread itself. Each unique creation, from Kazuma’s vibrant green turtle bread, to Kai’s ultimate 648 layer super vapour action croissant (don’t ask), looks wholly delicious and invokes a constant craving for a nice fresh loaf – just as well it wasn’t in smell-o-vision!SoundYakitate!! Japan’s score encompasses all that the anime attempts to do. Suitably cheesy and dramatic music accompanies the series’ more ‘tense’ moments, while lighter and equally corny tracks enhance the light-hearted nature of the show. On a purely personal note, I love the second ending theme, 'To all tha dreamers' by SOUL'd OUT, if only for the disco dancing manager that accompanies it. The anime’s seiyuu perform well and easily covey the nature of each character. Kazuma’s vocals are sufficiently naïve; Kawachi’s Kansai dialect works ideally with his rough-around-the-edges nature; and Kuroyanagi’s strong and confident inflections not only perfectly fit his serious side, but also provide extra humour when he descends into ‘reaction mode’.CharactersAs its weakest aspect, Yakitate Japan’s cast remains mostly undeveloped throughout. Kazuma is as dense and naïve at the series’ conclusion as at the beginning, Kawachi, despite many attempts otherwise, only provides comedy by being the show’s ‘whipping boy’, Tsukino is about as interesting as a block of yeast, and the biggest mystery of all: who the hell is Kid, and how many jobs does this guy have?! This lack of exploration of its characters is partly to blame for Yakitate!! Japan’s humour becoming a little stale after a while, and instead of developing with the cast, the jokes sit like day-old bread. On the plus side, each character actively contributes to the series’ comedy. Kai and Kawachi’s mutual hatred makes their heated exchanges and jibes about hair loss highly amusing to watch, while Kuroyanagi’s short temper and his demure façade, which crumbles further with each extreme reaction, provides endless amusement. Throw into the mix a deranged Pierrot, feather-adorned Meister Kirisaki and the afro-sporting manager and it’s possible to forgive some of the protagonist’s deficiencies. Whether it’s their personality quirks or various interactions, Yakitate!! Japan wouldn’t work half as well as it does without its wacky cast.OverallI cannot stress enough how important it is to NOT TAKE THIS SHOW TOO SERIOUSLY; instead think of it as a harmless bit of fun. It’s the sort of silly comedy series that will make you giggle, but would have you peeing your pants with laughter if watched when drunk – or stoned. Sure it has its faults but, if you let it, Yakitate!! Japan will provide hours of easy-going entertainment.
StoryThe premise for Yakitate!! Japan - Azuma Kazuma, a Japanese boy who aspires to create a bread which will be forever associated with the nation of Japan - is actually quite promising. All the elements are present for plenty of character growth, difficult trials, and exciting twists and turns in the plot. Unfortunately, the creators of Yakitate!! Japan fail to make use of this potential, and instead disappoint with a plot which is increasingly repetitive and unimaginative. The anime follows the same formula from episode to episode, essentially without variation. There is some sort of bread-making competition in which Azuma is pitted against an opponent whose skills are perfectly suited for the type of bread being judged. Everything looks hopeless for Azuma until he comes up with a last-minute trump card to gain an edge on his opponent. The episode then concludes with a disproportionately large amount of time dedicated to the judging of the bread. This is usually a very involved procedure, as the judge(s) in question will display "reactions" to the bread they have sampled. Usually, the more delicious the bread, the more absurd and lengthy their reactions can be. One memorable episode actually consisted of nothing else but a judge's reaction.I believe it would be perfectly valid for anyone above preschool age to feel insulted by this plot. After all, one of the joys of finding a new story is being surprised by the unexpected. It seems that the creators of Yakitate!! Japan have forgotten this basic element in storytelling, because after the first few episodes, almost everything is predictable with a high degree of accuracy.AnimationThe animators of Yakitate!! Japan deserve credit on three fronts. Firstly, the main characters maintain a relatively consistent look throughout the 69 episodes. Given the lack of internal consistency that pervades the other aspects of the series, I was extremely surprised not to find a single episode where Azuma or some other main character is drawn so poorly as to be unrecognisable. Secondly, as the reactions to the bread created in the anime grow increasingly preposterous and incongruous, the animators actually manage to keep up with their own dose of visual insanity. (Whether this is truly a good thing is questionable, but I shall give the benefit of the doubt.) Finally, some of the food really does look quite delicious, and since Yakitate!! Japan is mainly about food, there are quite a few opportunities for the animators to show off their bread-drawing skills. SoundNeither the soundtrack nor the seiyuu performances are particularly memorable. Perhaps this results from the frequent use of noise sound effects or music containing similar sounds, which may be entertaining to a toddler, but is certainly not appropriate for more mature audiences. The voice acting seems less geared towards bringing a character to life as it is focused on puerile humour and getting easy laughs from small children. The intro and outro music are average. CharactersThere are several feeble attempts at character development in Yakitate!! Japan, but given its 69 episode length, these efforts are woefully inadequate. This is further worsened by the fact that the main protagonist is portrayed as a bread-making genius. It is therefore all too tempting to resolve all seemingly insurmountable difficulties encountered by Azuma through some arcane stroke of brilliance which no other person could possibly have imagined, as opposed to forcing Azuma to grow as a person and a baker. This formula is so often repeated that by the middle of the series, I could already predict how any given episode would end. Most other characters are relegated to the static role of being springboards for the same repetitive jokes which continue throughout the series. In one severe case, a character which begins the series with a great deal of potential is utterly destroyed and reduced to playing the part of a pathetic and useless tag-along in the story. This might be excusable if this gives rise to quality humour, but the audience is instead treated to banal and inane buffoonery. OverallThere is quite possibly a demand for a show like Yakitate!! Japan among gluttonous Japanese preschoolers or bakers desperately in need of culinary inspiration. Apart from this rather narrow audience, I would venture that few other viewers would derive much entertainment or satisfaction from watching more than the first few episodes.Yakitate!! Japan is an excellent example of what can happen to an anime if the writer and producers get too comfortable with a well-received formula. By milking it for all it is worth, without ever gathering the courage to steer the show in a new and refreshing direction, the creators of an anime can drain it of any enjoyment that may come from viewing it.If you absolutely feel compelled to try out this anime, I would suggest watching it until boredom sets in. After that, stop. It is downhill from there.
Yakitate!! Japan follows the trials of Azuma Kazuma, a young boy who dreams of making a uniquely Japanese bread and putting his country on the baking world's map. Along the way he lands a job in one of Japan's foremost bakeries and has to endure all manner of, somewhat unique, baking tournaments. While not the brightest spark, Azuma does have a natural talent for breadmaking that puts him a cut above his many rivals, and with the help of a slightly crazed selection of colleagues and friends he continues to reach for his dream of creating Ja-Pan.If you've come to this series in search of a serious storyline, plot twists, or character development then it's probably best if you turn around right now and start looking elsewhere. This series is utterly ridiculous through and through, and it's the story that takes the biggest hit because of this. However, it's important to realise that in the context of the series this doesn't matter. When you've watched all 69 episodes you won't be looking back on the intricacies of the plot. Instead you'll be recalling some of the great comedy moments that this series provides. The show sets out to mock the more standard 'tournament' series, and it does so with such a brilliantly knowing flair. The soap-opera tendencies of what little plot there is only serves to heighten this. Everything is completely over the top and this suits the shows comedic nature perfectly.The show's weakest point by far is in it's visuals which, outside of the mostly excellent reaction sequences and ridiculous comedy moments, never really strive to be anything more than average. The character designs vary from the normal to the Pierrot, and it's the gap in between the two extremes that can sometimes make the visuals quite jarring. Much like the plot, when they're over the top the visuals excel, helping the show's comedy shine through. Indeed, when the baking comes into play the show is entirely watchable if not striking, and the more ridiculous aspects of the show, like Kuroyanagi and Pierrot's bread-tasting, are always entertaining. It is in the quieter moments however that they become plain, with pastel colours and forgettable backdrops becoming the standard rather than doing the series' few dramatic moments justice. In the sound department the show fares much better however. Voice work is excellent throughout, with Azuma and Kawachi standing out in particular. The seiyuu involved clearly took the show's ridiculous nature and ran with it, which is exactly what this show needed. The voices really take the comedy to another level, while at the same time keeping the more dramatic moments believable. Azuma's naivety, for example, is captured brilliantly and provides some great laughs, but it never distracts from his drive to achieve his dream.Indeed it is the characters that really provide the heart of this series. Maybe there's not much in the way of character development, but surprisingly for a 69 episode show this doesn't impact much in terms of quality. I never grew tired of watching the weird and wonderful exploits of the central characters and meeting the next bizarre addition to the cast of misfits. Pierrot and Kuroyanagi get a large share of the show's many hilarious moments and as such stand out amongst the collection of weird and wonderful freaks that make up the cast. But some of the secondary cast members, some of whom only appear once in a while, provide great laughs too. Azuma's grandfather in particular doesn't pop up very often but always steals the show when he does.For me, this show proved to be so much greater than the sum of it's parts. It's the kind of series that will be a very pleasant surprise to those who come to it looking for nothing more than a bit of pointless fun. Anyone looking for more than that will probably find themselves disappointed. All I can recommend is that you switch your brain off, press play and prepare to laugh yourself silly.
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