"There is English bread, German bread, and French bread, but Japan's bread — Ja-pan — does not exist. In that case, there is no choice but to create it. This story is a serious, biographical ballad of a boy who possesses Solar Hands, Kazuma Azuma, who will create a Japanese bread made by and for the Japanese people, which can be presented to the world proudly."
In the world of Yakitate!! Japan, bread is Serious Business. And no one takes it more seriously than Kazuma Azuma, a teenaged baker whose dream it is to create a national bread for his native country of Japan. It's an uphill battle however, as Japan is a land where rice has always ruled and where bread has never been held in very high regard. But all that is about to change thanks to the efforts of our gastronomically savant hero, who, with his "solar hands" and ten years of self-study, has become a master of his craft.The story begins with Kazuma heading to The Big City to apply for a position at Pantasia, one of Japan's biggest bakery franchises. Unfortunately, once he gets there he finds himself having to compete for the job with about thirty other applicants, most of whom have had some sort of formal training and education. Will a young, naive boy with pluck and determination be able to measure up in a Cooking Duel against Japan's finest up-and-coming bread makers?...Well duh. This is a shonen series, after all...During the course of the show, Kazuma gets to strut his stuff in several baking tournament arcs, as well as meet a cast of wacky characters, including:
Kai Suwabara - A grim-faced master swordsman who took up bread making for philosophical reasons. Rival to both Kazuma and Kyosuke and the series' AntiHero.
Shigeru Kanmuri - Harvard-trained Teen Genius who looks to the cold hand of Science to create the world's next Big Bread Breakthrough.
Tsukino Azusagawa - The Chick. Outcast granddaughter of the Pantasia chain owner. Is vying to become his heir along with her stepsisters, the annoying Mizuno and the psychotic devil in plain sight, Yukino.
Kageto Kinoshita - (aka the "Mushroom-head" guy). Another of Kazuma's co-workers who usually gets stuck doing all of the work while everyone is off competing in tournaments. The series' butt monkey.
Ryo Kuroyanagi - Hard-assed tournament judge with a talent for making overblown and very elaborate pun-based reactions to anything he tastes. A running gag has Kazuma frequently calling him an "old man" even though he's only 22.
Yuuichi Kirisaki- owner and Manipulative Bastard of St. Pierre's, rival of Pantasia. He looks like Gendō Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion and is voiced by the guy who did the voice of Gendō too. He tries sabotaging Team Japan during the Monaco Cup and hires the members of Team America to defeat them. He starts Yakitate 25!(9 in anime) as an attempt to humiliate Kazuma. He was the guy that gave Kazuma the inspiration to start Ja-pan, the national bread of Japan.
Yakitate Japan is notable for being a parody of the shonen fighting anime genre, skewering many of the traditional shonen character archetypes, and the overblown way in which even the most mundane turns of the plot are depicted. It's a fun—and at times, educational—action series. Watch it, and you'll never again think bread is boring.This series has Wild Mass Guessing.
This series provides examples of:
AB Negative: Pierrot Bolnez has the Bombay bloodtype. So does the king of Monaco.
Aborted Arc: The Yakitate 25 contest is ended abruptly by Kirisaki partway through after he turns into a hupan, and the manga moves on to the final battle instead. The fact that the arc had quickly succumbed to being Strictly Formula probably had something to do with it.
Art Shift: The Flashback sequence where Kuroyanagi recalls being an exchange student in America. He's drawn in an anime style, yet his American classmates are all drawn in a more realistic "Western" style. The recurring character named "Kid" is also drawn in this style whenever he appears.
Assimilation Plot Kirisaki's ultimate goal is to control the entire world with his go-pan.
Bald Women: In manga only, Tsukino Azusagawa, after becoming head of the company shaves her head. It's not noticed until her wig falls off...
Baleful Polymorph: Food starts having this effect more and more once the Yakitate 25 arc rolls around, with the effects lasting longer and longer, to the point that the in-universe viewers are starting to wonder if it's all going too far.
Kawaichi spends the majority of said arc suffering various transformations.
Battle Aura: Although in this series, it should be called, "Baking Aura"
S.H. Hokou is an example of an American based in Japan but not too American.
Butt Monkey: Kageto Kinoshita. The sad thing is that, with his talents and abilities, he could easily become cool and popular—if it wasn't for his generic looks.
Kawachi becomes this later on. His entire role in the manga essentially becomes to be less cool, less respected, and less fantastic than Azuma, Kai, and the others. Even his family starts insulting and looking down on him... that's just cruel.
Calling Your Attacks: Calling out the name of one's bread while conjuring up dramatic backgrounds is a favorite tactic amongst tournament competitors.
Can't Catch Up: Kawachi is actually pretty good at baking bread overall: he did pull his own weight at various Pantasia branches, and he manages to win several matches on his own - in fact, his only outright loss to anyone other than Azuma was a result of sabotage. He's just not nearly as good as Azuma, who starts better and quickly surpasses pretty much the entire world of baking.
Charles Atlas Superpower: Though he doesn't have any special innate abilities like Azuma has, Kawaichi is eventually able to gain his own version of the Solar Hands (called Solar Gauntlets) as well as superhuman finger dexterity, though grueling physical training.
Chekhov's Skill: A meta example. Some of the early Omake include the author discussing some of his early work, which included a manga based on Street Fighter II. Years later, in the final volume, it turns out Kawachii saves the world from global warming by having a reaction that transforms him into Dhalsim and he levitates every land mass in the world to prevent flooding.
Combat Commentator: Many characters in Yakitate! Japan, usually the Manager Ken Matsushiro and Ryo Kuroyanagi. Their explanations are usually triggered by Kawachi, the idiot from Osaka, saying that he doesn't understand what's going on.
Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The Kaiser brothers are usually stacked on top of one another and covered by a wrap-around cloak. Normally more than one head protrudes from the cloak, but the cloak hides the actual way in which they're stacked (including their legs and feet), so when it finally gets revealed, it creates a great shock.
Doppelgänger Spin: A variation, in that Kageto Kinoshita doesn't use it to attack, but rather to make "clones" of himself so he can get his and everybody else's work done. Tournament Judge Pierrot Bolnez also has this talent used to taste all of the submissions at once. Both characters learned this technique while working in the circus, surprisingly.
The characters catch on to this, saying "Maybe all clowns can create clones of themselves these days." Or words to that effect.
Double Entendre: Tsukino subverts this. When Ken convinces Suwabara not to commit seppuku by telling him that Monica was pregnant, Ken says "when a man and a woman are living in the same house alone, there is nothing for them to do except—" She completes the sentence saying "play cards, right, Manager?"
Later played straight during the Yakitate 25 arc when Azuma and the gang are making a soft bread and their opponent is making a hard bread. Tsukino turns to the manager and says, "Between a hard and soft bread its obvious that hard is better, right?" To which Ken replies, "That's your preferment as a woman..." Mind you he is shirtless and she is wearing a bikini at the time to make it more suggestive.
Enemy Mime: Shadow White, even though he doesn't dress the part, can imitate people just as well as Marcel Marceau.
Enemy Without: In the final arc of the series, Kirisaki's agony in his quest to create his own Ja-pan, combined with the power of the devil bread, eventually rejects his body and leaves to become it's own entity.
Fighting from the Inside: Kirisaki's original personality manages to surface just long enough to reveal himself as the man who inspired Azuma to make bread in the first place and thank him to allowing him to be his true self again before the Devil Bread takes him over entirely.
Also, Kawaichi manages to temporarily fight back the effects of Kirisaki's mind-control go-pan before he can force feed the bread to Azuma.
Flash Back: Nearly every single time someone tastes bread.
ESPECIALLY with Pierrot Bolneze, who divulges practically all of his life whenever he tastes the Japan representatives' bread.
Foreshadowing: There are plenty of hints that the baker with a beard but no mustache that opened a bakery named St. Pierre that taught Azuma about bread-making and Ja-pan is Yuichi Kirisaki, ruthless owner of Pantasia's rival St. Pierre well before The Reveal is officially made near the end of the series.
Four Is Death: Azuma's 44th variety of bread has the power to send people to heaven. Unless the person was at the end of their lifespan, however, they get better.
Freakiness Shame: Monica Adenauer, as a master confectioner, has heavily scarred hands due to cutting herself many times on her sugar creations, and is embarrassed to let Suwabara see them. When he does, he finds them to be the hands of a dedicated craftswoman and calls them beautiful.
Genre Savvy: In a recent omake Kazuma Azuma proves to be a little insightful to the world he lives in. Sometime when both he and Tsukino were kids they both ended up in a dry well. To escape Azuma fed her a piece of bread realizing that the pun would turn her into a tower to facilitate their escape.
Kirisaki takes the cake for this though. Having Yukino make a reverse tart so that the reaction would switch all of the wins in losses in Yakitate 25.
Hurricane of Puns: Barely a chapter goes by without some horrendous pun, many of which are lost entirely in the English translations. Even the series title is a pun: "pan" is Japanese for "bread", so "Ja-pan" can be read as "Japanese bread", which plays on the names of other varieties of bread like "furansu pan" (lit. "French bread"), etc.
Informed Ability: Kai Suwabara is mentioned from the get-go as being one of the greatest young bread makers in a generation, having already won a major competition before even applying to work at Pantasia. He's then widely seen as the competitor to beat in the Pantasia rookie tournament. His actual victory count in-series? One. He only gets the job at the main Pantasia branch because both Kawachi and Azuma drop out. He gets to the semifinals of the rookie tournament because his opponents withdraw; he then loses to Azuma and ties Kawachi in the runner-up match. His bread in the Monaco Cup semifinals isn't tasted, and he loses to Monica in the finals. His final match, against Azuma in 'Yakitate! 25', is once again a loss. The only battle he wins is in the Monaco Cup second preliminary, where he's at a disadvantage due to having to use a huge number of ingredients, but he manages to produce a bread better than the French team's.
Insane Troll Logic: After marrying and divorcing a woman for the sake of a reaction, Kuroyanagi defends his actions by claiming that since the prefecture they're in has the lowest divorce rate in the country, people should get divorced more to get closer to the national average.
Kuroyanagi: You only have one life to live, but you can get divorced as many times as you want. Oh how wonderful, divorces!
He also argues that compared to the number of times Kawaichi says "What do you mean!?" in a single day, his divorce means nothing.
Invincible Hero: Azuma ties once the entire series. And has an implied loss twice, when people in other brackets (first Koala, then Shadow White) do better than him. He is never out right defeated in a direct competition, though.
Actually, the tie doesn't really count since Azuma didn't participate in the jam match against Tsutsumi
Didn't he lose against Miki Norihei in the yakitate 25 in a seaweed bread contest?
Does that count, since Mr. Norihei is from another dimension?
Mirror Match: The battle against the ninja in the Yakitate!! 25 arc: Both sides made bread with the same ingredients and preparation techniques. The only difference was the way the bread was kneaded.
Miss Conception: Suwabara is convinced that Monica is pregnant, despite them having only "embraced a number of times". It's clear from the context that he doesn't mean "had sex" when he thinks it, either.
It's revealed in the finale, though, that Suwabara did eventually catch on. In time to actually conceive a child with Monica.
Monster Clown: Pierrot Bolnez isn't a villain, but his powers and abilities are so uncanny that he arguably qualifies.
Ms. Fanservice: Monica Adenauer, who tries to intimidate Suwabara using this. It fails.
Mundane Made Awesome: It's safe to say that if most people reacted to tasting bread the way the people in this series do, bread would be immediately classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.
It's not just bread. In this series, any type of food can produce astounding reactions as long as the chef is good enough. Let's put it like this; one of the first reactions we saw was a guy bending himself to look like a crescent moon. Fast-forward a few arcs and we have a guy travelling through time. Fast-forward some more and we have people actually entering "reaction worlds" and Shapeshifting.
The Muse: Kawachi inspires the majority of Azuma's awesome bread ideas. Almost all the other ones come from him already having made it before.
Naughty Nuns: Mako Graham, the nun who taught Kawachi to go afro (sort of), is far from the nice nuns you see around everyday. She even hand-signals as if she was smoking.
Negated Moment of Awesome: Preparing for a match against Azuma, Kawaichi undergoes physical training under Meister Kirisaki to gain superhuman finger dexterity on top of his Solar Gauntlets, possibly giving him a chance to finally compete on equal terms with Azuma. Unfortunately, Azuma's bread transforms the judge into a giant butterfly, rendering him unable to eat bread, and since the entire goal of the competition (to convince the judge, Azuma's grand-uncle, to hand over his special wheat,) was accomplished, Kawaichi didn't even get to do anything.
Especially prevalent in the Omake (unless that is to what the above poster referred), Takitate! Gohan, such as when Shiroyagani excuses the taking of all ten points from almost every entry in the employment competition with it being an Omake.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Michael Schumacher doing an Initial D before going to Formula One? Azuma mistaking Lake Iglesia with Julio Iglesias? Kaiser's fans behaving like the Detroit Tigers fans? They're all here.
Serious Business: Apparently it's serious enough that a cooking duel between breadmakers from two competing bakery chains can warrant a stadium-sized audience and "Death of Anna Nicole Smith"-level media coverage.
However, even more serious is the art of reacting to bread.
Kuroyanagi has made it clear that he's willing to risk bodily harm and even death for the sake of a reaction. Most evident in the jam match between Kanmuri and Tsutsumi, where his reactions consist of shoving his face into a bowl of boiling hot, flaming jam and suffering serious burns, and then trying to climb into a large pot in order to smoke himself to death.
Another reaction has him run off and marry a random Gonk woman with the last name Shima just so he can change his surname (he ends up divorcing her just in time to taste the competition's bread.)
Ship Tease:Tsukino licking her lips while baking an Azuma shaped bread. She also licks her hand where Azuma touched her in the 3rd episode.
The Black Tri-Stars from Mobile Suit Gundam show up as three expert bakers from St. Pierre's Kyūshū branch. They tasted Kazuma's Black Ja-pan and had a reaction where they fought the Nobel Gundam from G Gundam which was piloted by Yukino (and had a caption reminding people they were still watching Yakitate!! Japan. ) They quit after the reaction.
In one episode, Pierrot eats "Alexandria" Egyptian Bread, with Kodaimai Miso flavoring and turns into Detective Conan.
In another episode, Kuroyanagi turns into Super Kuroyanagi (a parody of Super Sayain) by eating Takumi Tsubodzuka's Super Toro Aburi. He fights Kawachi in a DBZ-style fight. He turns into Super Kuroyanagi 2 (a parody of Super Sayain 2) and Super Kuroyanagi 3 (a parody of Super Sayain 3) as a result of eating Urchin-roe Chawanmushi bread.
In another episode, Kuroynagi turns into a parody of Monkey D. Luffy by eating Kazuma Azuma's Ōkuchi Wafuu (Japanese-style) Ja-pan Man.
Kawachi Kyousuke tries some kelp marinated in soda and turns into Pepmiman, a parody of Pepsiman. He rescues a girl from drowning at sea. He also beats two sharks that tried to eat the girl.
Then there's this, done in the style of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, which gets several other shout-outs, to the point where it is hard to believe the manga-ka isn't a fan.
When Meister Kirisaki decides to train Kawaichi, he talks about making him an iron man, complete with images of Kawaichi dressed as Gigantornote The original Japanese name for Gigantor is Tetsujin 28, or "Iron Man 28"
They have a bakery consultant; nearly all of the facts, and the out-there ingredients and techniques used to make the breads are real. There's even a recipe in one of the manga volumes for Kazuma's rice-cooker bread.
Skilled, but Naive: Kazuma Azuma, who is a superb baker but starts off not even knowing what nan bread is.
Strictly Formula: The middle part of the Yakitate 25 arc starts falling into a strict formula after a while: Pantasia competes against someone who's the best in their field at a particular type of food, and both are tasked to make that exact type of food (because St. Pierre is cheating and manipulating the matches behind the scenes,) the Pantasia team ends up staying at a bizarre hotel, Azuma suddenly gets an inspiration for the match thanks to Kawachi, the story cuts to the competition, where Ken shows up late because of Yakuza business, Pantasia wins, and in later chapters their opponent is polymorphed, possibly permanently, while Azuma declares it a happy ending. There's an occasional variation in the formula, but it happens far and few between.
Talking Animal: Mokoyama turns into a talking panda as a reaction to smelling Kazuma's Triple Bamboo Leaf manju.
Thinker Pose: In episode 31, Kawachi Kyousuke was stripped of his clothes except for his underwear, and he was covered in bread and made to look like "The Thinker" by Rodin after he broke the bread "The Thinker" statue made by the rest of the group.
Wham Episode: The reveal that Kirisaki has turned into a half-human, half-bread monster who plans to control the entire world. From there, the entire tournament arc is dropped in favor of an incredibly bizarre save-the-world plot.
Who's on First?: One dialogue sequence involves naan bread, which just happens to sound like the Japanese for "what"; another involves "croissant" being mistaken for a name ending in the honorific -san.
World of Pun: The various reactions to the dish are based on puns. For example, in one of the earlier chapters someone tests their bread by offering it to a horse. The horse sniffs and blissfully goes ばく ("baku" a common eating onomatopoeia), written as 馬食 ("horse eats"). Guess it's a male horse.
Yakuza: Ken is eventually elected as the new leader of the yakuza group formerly headed by Kanmuri's father. Though he's reluctant at first, he eventually takes to it.
You Are Too Late: The goal of Azuma and Kawachi was to win the Monaco Cup and allow Tsukino to win over 10 billion yen, thereby allowing her to secure enough Pantasia stock to prevent a hostile takeover by St. Pierre. They win the cup and get the gambling winnings... only to discover that Kirisaki was already able to complete the takeover before the Monaco Cup ended.