Yakitate! Japan ran from 2004-2006.It is an adaptation of a manga written by Takashi Hashihuchi which ran from 2002-2007. It was produced by Sunrise. We follow a boy named Azuma Kazuma who aims to create s national bread called the Ja-pan! We start with his journey with his try-out at a major bakery called Pantasia and see as he grows and overcomes his obstacles to continue pursuing his dream.
Yakitate! Japan is a childhood favourite of mine that has been a source of much constant laughter.
Yakitate! Japan has one of the best cast I’ve seen. We are introduced to a lot of characters per arc but we don’t get such an influx that we start forgetting our main team. You get invested in the main team with all their strange charm. You also get to know a lot about their motivations in why they are bakers and what keeps them going. You also see how their personalities were formed and how their personalities led to their way of baking. Even the side characters are very memorable and essential to each development in Azuma even though you might not see them again in future episodes. They are also hilarious and charming and they pretty much make you fall in love with them – except maybe the main villains – they’re sort of made for you to hate them.
The main cast as seen from the third opening
The plot is relatively simple. It’s pretty much a bread-baking competition but the way it’s done is phenomenal. The series progresses from smallscale to bigscale. Each competition is made in such a way that it’s still interesting every time. The way the characters respond to the obstacles and how each problem is solved is entertaining and educational. Sometimes, other solved problems are referred back to, which shows that each event really did shape Kazuma in his current baking. The exaggerated reactions of the judges in regards to bread is also beautifully executed in expressing how good the bread was – and it certainly makes you hungry after watching.
A reaction of judge Kuroyanagi in episode 63.
Yakitate! Japan has several openings and endings. None of them quite embody the show or is related to the plot. Some of them don’t even make sense in context with the plot despite being very good songs. However, all the openings had a theme of somehow not giving up on your dream and that you should chase after what you want. The endings give a sense of relaxation, comfort, and fun – somehow like how Azuma puts all his feelings into his cooking and how he thinks of the people eating his bread and what they feel while eating. These themes show the two sides of the main character who is the driving force of the show.
This anime is one of the first that introduced me to dialects. The characters are from various parts of Japan. Our main character speaks with the Tohoku dialect and this was done by Yumiko Kobayashi from the Chiba prefecture. Despite being from a different prefecture, she was able to flawlessly voice Kazuma. The voice-acting of the judges are done very well, especially in their recurring eccentric reactions.
The main character Azuma (episode 67).
For its time, the animation in Yakitate! Japan is pretty decent. It has no standstill scenes where it’s only one scene with some dialogue or change in music. With the exaggerated reactions by the judges during comepetitions – there is a lot of sudden movements and transitions that happen throughout the series. These were well executed, with the little subtle movements of the characters done to show off their reactions. The openings and endings are nothing special, with some of the endings being very repetitive. Still as the series progressed, the endings became more dynamic and interesting.
Personal enjoyment: 10/10
Yakitate! Japan remains one of my favourite anime. The way it has been constructed gives it high rewatching value. Its cast of characters gives the whole show its charm and the gags are perfect for all the good feels you want.
Overall rating: 9/10