Genre: Comedy, Competition
Notes: Yakitate means freshly baked and Ja-pan is a play on words - the country Japan and pan meaning bread.
Follow the baking career of Kazuma Zuma, a boy with "Solar Hands" as he works and competes for Pantasia, a national bakery chain in Japan. His goal is to create "Ja-pan," a bread worthy enough to be the national bread of Japan.
Good bright clean animation with some funny, quirky character designs that make each character easily identifiable. The bread looks delicious and you can almost smell it! Azuma wears a girl's hairband to keep his hair away from his face and from falling into the bread mix. Matsushiro Ken, Manager of Pantasia Southern Tokyo branch, wears an Afro. Kuroyanagi Ryo, head of the Pantasia Main Branch, looks like how Roy Mustang (of Full Metal Alchemist) should look (less chibi). Musical score is fine, nothing outstanding or annoying. Voices are well matched and distinctive. Of note is Azuma's rival and friend Kawachi Kyosuke who has the right kind of grating, sneaky voice, and apparently a Kansai accent, well matched to the character.
Another competition anime? A baking competition? Sounds.boring.no.silly.yes, silly but hilarious! Azuma may be a typical anime character, enthusiastic, well liked, awesome potential, inspirational, and not too bright, but the breads he invents are nothing short of heart-stopping (literally!) The series is divided into competition arcs starting with Azuma competing to be an employee of Pantasia, then against a rival bakery, then in the Pantasia new employee competition, etc. The stories should be seen in order but it doesn't particularly matter as each episode is enjoyable on its own.
Kazuma possesses the legendary Solar Hands, which are warmer than normal human hands, causing the yeast in the dough to ferment faster, at the optimum temperature. But the various innovative breads are invented out of his own creativity and experience rather than having learned it from books or schools or a mentor. He is a natural genius unlike his rival, and later friend Kawachi whose father was a baker and who is much more knowledgeable about the basics of baking.
Much of the humor is based on puns, which don't always translate well. But the physical reactions by the tasters of the bread are the funniest over-reactions ever! The examiners completely flip out after sampling Kazuma's creations to the point of taking off their clothes or going to heaven after eating bread to die for. It's also more of a parody of other competition shows where the characters are over emotional and over-react. This show is also educational as you learn about yeast, fermentation, enzymes, petalite, baking techniques and more.
There are many colorful, hilarious characters besides Kazuma Azuma including:
Azusagawa Tsukino - illegitimate granddaughter to the founder of the Pantasia chain; a good baker in her own right; nice considerate girl with angst
Azusagawa Yukino - Tsukino's half sister and the villain of the series; uses a cigarette lighter set at maxiumum
Matsushiro Ken - Manager of Pantasia Southern Tokyo branch. Big muscular guy with an afro and sunglasses, likes horses and nutritious, healthy non allergic breads
Kawachi Kyosuke - starts off as a dastardly rival to Asuma, then becomes his big brother/friend, but still a rival
Kuroyanagi Ryo - Head of the main Pantasia branch and the primary examiner. Usually cool and collected but not after eating delicious bread. His reactions will have you rolling on the floor!
Suwabara Kai - rookie at the Head Branch, ex-samurai who seems more likely to cut a person in half than a loaf of bread
After viewing this series, you will want to go out and try every type of bread available, and then attempt to make your own! Also watch out for the Naruto parody in the last arc!
Rated G, highly recommended for everyone, all ages, all genders. Well, except for those on the Atkins diet - that will go out the window as early as episode 1!