Yakitate!!


Yakitate!! Japan (meaning "Freshly Baked!!") is a manga, authored by Takashi Hashiguchi, serialised in Shogakukan's Shōnen Sunday, which has been adapted into a television anime series by Sunrise. The manga has spanned 25 tankōbon volumes, as of January, 2007, while the weekly serialization of the manga has recently ended as of January 10, 2007. The anime series, broadcast on TV Tokyo and other local stations from October 2004 to March 2006, spanned a total of 69 episodes. The series won the 2004 Shogakukan Manga Prize for best shōnen Manga. The manga series was later licensed by VIZ Media for North American distribution.

The story focuses on Kazuma Azuma, a boy on his quest to create Ja-pan, a national bread for Japan itself. He initially heads to Tokyo to expand his bread-making horizons at the bread-making chain Pantasia; the story continues with Azuma's exploits with his other coworkers.

The title of this series itself is a play on words; Yakitate translates to "freshly baked", but Japan has a double meaning. Besides referring to the country of Japan, "pan" is the Japanese word for "bread". Ja-pan is a pun for this series. This mimics the style of the names of other varieties of bread in Japanese, such as "furansupan" (French Bread), "doitsupan" (German rye-based bread), "itariapan" (Italian bread), etc.

Besides the desire to create his Ja-pan, Azuma also possesses the legendary Solar Hands (known as "Hands of the Sun" in Viz's translation). These hands are warmer than normal human hand temperature, and allow the dough to ferment faster. This gives him some advantage at the beginning of the series, but his innovation and many Ja-pans are his greater talents.

Although the story has baking as its main theme, the parts that generate the most interest are the outrageous puns in the story. Especially notable are the "reaction" based puns made by the judges, who go to great lengths to prove a single point about the bread that they had tasted. The series in general also pokes fun at the shōnen genre's tendency to be melodramatic over mundane tasks.

While the characters might create the most extreme breads, most of them are actually real, or are at least based on real bread. Hashiguchi employs a bakery consultant, Kouichi Uchimura. Uchimura creates bread similar to the bread in the manga, and some of the bread in the manga are actually his invention. Uchimura runs a bakery called Pan no Mimi in Kyoto.
In Episode 25, during Kawachi's afro training, there's a parody of the famous novel, dorama and movie Sekachu, where Kawachi has a reaction and appears on top of a bread whose crust looks a bit like the Ayers Rock (this reasoning is backed up by the fact that there are kangaroos on the crust), shouting "afro no chushin De ai wo sakebi" ("Crying out afro in the center of the world").
Episode 29 includes a Gundam parody, featuring the Black Tri-Stars and their traditional Dom mobile suits, as well as the Nobel Gundam from G-Gundam, piloted by Yukino, who appears to be wearing the uniform of Sayla Mass.
Episode 44 contains an Initial D parody
In episode 47, there is a parody of Detective Conan where Pierrot disguises himself as Conan for his reaction.
In episode 51, there is a parody of Galaxy Express 999 when Pierrot goes to outer space for his reaction.
In episode 55, there is a parody of Dragonball Z where Kuroyanagi becomes Super Kuroyanagi (super saiyan) as a reaction from trying Takumi Tsubozuka's Super Toro Aburi bread. He then later turns into Super Kuroyanagi two and Super Kuroyanagi three after trying Azuma's Urchin-roe Chawanmushi bread.
In episode 56, there is a parody of One Piece where Kuroyanagi turns into a "Tenobi Man" as a reaction from trying Azuma's Japanese-Style Ja-pan dumpling. To this effect, he dons a straw hat and starts stretching his arms like rubber to unbelievable lengths a la Monkey D. Luffy.
Tesshou Iwashiro and Dog, from the manga Wild Life, make a minor appearance in episode 38 and a longer appearance in episode 58.
In episode 59, there is a parody of Naruto where 'Naruto' and 'Sasuke' are fighting.
Episode 68 is a Lord of the Rings parody.



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