So if you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you probably already know that Josh loves watching incredibly stupid shows and then coming up with
bullshit reasons to justify watching them. I never understood the allure or the thought process until now. Watching Yakitate!! Japan (YJ) made me realize that sometimes it’s ok to watch a show that’s absolutely idiotic and still enjoy it for what it is. Then again I don’t think I will ever be able to stop judging people who like watching Daimidaler (sorry fans) haha. YJ isn’t quite that dumb, I think you would be hard pressed to find another show that is that self-aware about its own stupidity and revels in it as much. That being said, if you don’t have the same interest in baking that I do (you should totally check out my baking blog–look at that shameless self-promotion) or you really just are not a fan of anything super ridiculous, you’re probably going to want to stay away from YJ. Then again, I actually find it really hilarious so you may want to reconsider.
Here’s a synopsis of the show courtesy of MAL:
Yakitate means “fresh baked”, but the word “Japan” is actually a pun – pan means bread in Japanese, so Kazuma is out to make Japan, a unique Japanese bread to compete with the best bread from around the world!
Azuma became obsessed with bread when he was six years old. His sister yelled that their family should start having bread for breakfast sometimes, but their grandfather refused to even consider it, as he would only eat natto, miso soup, and rice for breakfast. Kazuma agreed, saying he didn’t like bread, but his sister kidnaps him and takes him to a bread store to show him the wonders of fresh-baked bread. Not only is Kazuma converted, but the owner discovers that Kazuma has the magical “Hands of the Sun” whose warmth makes them particularly suited to making bread. The owner packs up shop and goes to Tokyo to fulfill his dream of making Japan, but Kazuma continues his bread-baking dream as well, and ends up going to Tokyo himself when he`s sixteen, to compete for a spot at the foremost bread store in Japan – Pantasia!
One of the main reasons that I’m so forgiving about YJ is because it actually makes me laugh out loud. I almost never laugh like that during a show. I’m a pretty stoic media consumer for the most part. Josh thinks I don’t have a heart since I never cry during movies haha. YJ is totally ridiculous, one of the things it’s especially great at doing is coming up with ridiculous reactions when someone tries one of the breads made by Azuma. For example…
You read that correctly. The bread is apparently so good that the contest judge literally tries to whip his dick out. He takes one bite of bread and then decides to strip naked and do…well I think you can use your imagination. Yes. This is a show about baking bread. I promise XD. I think that frame might be one of the best moments I’ve seen in the show so far (I’m only on episode 20/69). The thing is, this moment is not unique–there is a ton of weird and totally inappropriate things that go on in YJ. It’s a show about baking bread, but at the same time it’s also a show that will leave you shaking your head and questioning your life choices.
One thing that a good bad show can’t do without is a god awful protagonist. Azuma is so stupid it hurts sometimes. Really his only abilities lie in his odd genius for baking bread combined with his magical ‘solar hands’ that somehow make the yeast ferment more quickly due to their abnormally warm temperature (it sounds like it would be really unpleasant to hold hands with this guy). This guy is the epitome of stupid, but somehow it actually works. I mean honestly even his character design is intended to make him look dumb. Note the errant antennae, pink headband and vapid facial expression. So why does Azuma work? Probably because there is no pretense about his stupidity–all the other characters are quick to remind him of it–and also because he’s something of an idiot savant. Azuma is a moron, don’t get me wrong, but he is surprisingly brilliant when it comes to baking bread. Somehow, in spite of his empty head, he always rises to the challenge. Don’t ask me how he manages to beat out the rest of the competition when it comes to all these baking contests he somehow enters. And of course you can’t forget those all-important shounen tenets that he embodies. (You know the stuff: friendship, loyalty, bromance, etc. haha.) I mean yes, let’s not disregard that he’s an idiot, but he’s an idiot whose heart is in the right place.
The supporting characters are pretty great too. I actually really appreciate them, and they’re much more developed than I would have expected for a show that is clearly about bread (and whipping out your dick). Don’t get me wrong, they’re equally ridiculous in their own ways, but not ridiculous enough that it makes me want to tear my hair out and quit the show. Also what can I say, that’s just a really sexy afro. How can I say no to a show with such a sexy afro involved?
The show also has a surprising lack of fanservice (at least so far), something that I found to be so beautiful and miraculous that I almost cried. The two main females in the show are surprisingly respectable, as in I have not seen them in the shower or in a bathing suit, and there have been no cleavage/upskirt shots to speak of! If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know that I am an avid hater of all things fanservice, not because I’m a feminist or anything like that, but simply because I find it distracting and annoying. Not to mention, all the female fanservice out there tends to feature guys who are extremely effeminate looking (aka not my type). Anyway, the fact that this show has yet to make me cringe is a definite plus in my book, if it does include fanservice later on though, which I suspect it might, it’s going to lose brownie points.
Other things worth noting: this show does have a lot of wordplay in it, the sub I’m watching explains it for me and even though Josh said this is common in anime, I haven’t seen too much of it. Shows how much I know. Anyway I thought it was cool though. Even the title apparently is a wordplay. Yea, I mean baking shows don’t seem to be too common in anime and for someone like me who regularly watches Food Network at the gym (I’m not much of a TV person) I thought it was kind of cool to watch an anime about baking. I’ve also seen Yumeiro Patissiere, but other than that I haven’t heard of any other baking shows worth watching. Any suggestions are much appreciated! Hey if anything I think you’ll probably end up learning something about bread, which is never a bad thing in my opinion :).