“Furansupan, doitsupan, itariapan…JA-PAN”
Yakitate!! Japan (meaning Freshly Baked!! Ja-pan) is a 69 episode anime series that follows an aspiring baker, Kazuma Azuma, who is on the quest to make the ultimate ja-pan, a national bread for Japan itself. Literally, this anime is about bread!!! The world has French bread, German bread…but there is no bread to represent the land of the rising sun.
Azuma possesses the legendary Solar Hands, which are warmer than normal temperature of the human body and this increase in warmth allows the bread dough to ferment faster when kneaded. This is a trait that he utilizes greatly throughout the series. This special trait causes anyone to experience a special reaction/hallucination, which is always different depending on the bread. The reactions are developed to be quite comical, full of puns and add energy to the story-line.
Each new bread that Azuma creates is called “JA-PAN”, but with increasing number tagline to it (ex: JA-PAN #42). He makes a new bread until he can make the ultimate JA-PAN.
The anime is broken down into three main story arcs that essentially flow together.
The anime begins with a flashback to Azuma’s childhood ten years previous where he aspired to make a bread that tasted better than his grandfather’s favorite breakfast, rice. This is where we learn of Azuma’s deep desire to share his love of his country through his love of bread. Azuma travels to the Pantasia Main Branch Store (run by the greatest pastry and baking chefs in the world). Azuma expects to be able to get a job there but soon discovers that he has to compete in a series of exams to even qualify for an interview. Even though he shows skill and talent, he is assigned for a position at the Pantasia’s Southern Tokyo Branch (a very low key store). While working there, Azuma is met with many different bakers who challenge him to baking duels and it just adds to his skill and development as a bakery chef.
Later in the anime, Azuma and his co-worker Kyosuke Kawachi (who possesses Solar Gauntlets – artificial Solar Hands) compete in a fierce tournament set up to pit the greatest bakers hired by Pantasia against each other for a coveted spot at the prestige Pantasia international branch.
At the same time, the owners of the rival bakery chain St. Pierre seek to destroy the Pantasia brand at any cost, leading to an epic series arc of baking battles to determine the fates of the bakery chain brands.
In the end, Azuma develops enough skill to finally develop “THE JA-PAN”, where it gains international popularity. Even with such success though, Azuma is humble from his beginnings and turns down a spot at the prestige Pantasia Main Branch Store, and returns to manage the Pantasia Southern Tokyo Branch.
What is super amazing about this anime, is that besides the interesting story-line made based around bread making, is that at the end of every episode the recipe for the JA-PAN made is given. The making of the JA-PAN is even being demonstrated by a real baker from the Yamazaki Pan Company. Some of these breads are actually quite delicious looking, such as JA-PAN #2 Suihan Ja-pan (rice-cooker bread), JA-PAN #16 Mt. Fuji Curry Ja-pan (or known as naan), and JA-PAN #21 Budding Wheat Flour Castella Ja-pan (sponge cake bread). If watching this anime doesn’t make you hungry, then you need to re-watch because my mouth watered with every episode.
If you need an anime that will make you laugh or one that will enthuse your creative mind, check it out on Crunchyroll.