By Leroy Douresseaux
May 17, 2007 - 13:57
In Japan, rice is the staple, and bread is looked upon by many as a strange foreign food unsuitable for the Japanese diet and unacceptable to the Japanese palate. There are, however, a sizable population that just loves bread, and young country boy Kazuma Azwna is not one of them. That is until his sister introduces him to bread made at the bakery St. Pierre by its master baker, a man called “mister.” One taste and Kazuma is a slave to that baked goodness.
Years later, now a teenager, Kazuma is in Tokyo, and his goal is to get a job at Pantasia, the famous bakery chain. Unfortunately, Kazuma finds that there are a lot of other young bakers who want to make bread at Pantasia. Before long, rivals are colleagues and Kazuma finds that his dreams are coming true, even if in a roundabout sort of way. Now, he only needs to perfect Ja-pan (“pan” being the Japanese word for bread), that special bread Japan can call its every own.
Yakitate!! Japan is slapstick comedy, but it’s also like a Hollywood high concept film. Creator Takashi Hashiguchi takes a subject (in this instance, bread making), researches it well, and builds a dramatic structure with it. I find all the facts, history, trivia, etc. about bread interesting, and, in fact, Drew Williams’ adaptation manages to keep the intrigue, mystery, and skill of bread making high. He makes you want to learn more.
Meanwhile, the cast is diverse, eclectic, and downright eccentric. Viewing this through the eyes of series star, Kazuma, Yakitate!! Japan comes across as a card-playing manga with bread as the card deck, and skills are highly prized. However, the rest of the cast, especially Kyosuke Kawachi, Kazuma’s deceitful baking buddy, and Tsukino Azusagawa, the granddaughter of Pantasia’s owner, make this a unique look into a world of highly-skilled professionals. Yakitate!! Japan may be a comedy, but in this series, break making ain’t no joke, and neither is the series.
Thanks to barnesandnoble.com for the images. The Comic Shop Locator phone number is 1-888-COMIC BOOK.