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Toast of Tardiness

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"Now, like shonen manga, there's only one story that really works for shojo manga!! ... The heroine screams "I'm late! I'm late!" while running out of her house (because she's clumsy)!! There are no alternatives to this beginning!! Another important detail: she has to be chewing on a piece of toast!!"

The Ordinary High-School Student protagonist is Late for School. They don't have time to sit and eat a full meal so they grab a piece of toast, put some butter or jelly on top, and run to school. While on their way to school, they accidentally bump into someone (often a senpai) and make a mess of their shirt. After much fumbling and apologizing, the protagonist arrives at class... Typically late.

This sort of introduction scene is known as the way to start an anime.

Bread is a relatively new addition to the Japanese diet - while it was introduced by Portuguese traders in the 16th century, it didn't catch on quite as well as the other dishes subsequent European missions brought until a few centuries later. As a result, in the early 1900s it, or more specifically toasted bread, was seen as a symbol food (similar to City People Eat Sushi). Even after bread had became a mainstream staple of Japanese cuisine, people took note of how quick and easy toast was to make and decided to run with the implications. Thus the infamous "running to school with toast in your mouth" Establishing Character Moment intro was born.

Rarely is the protagonist ever seen actually eating the bread. Maybe the bread was knocked out of their mouth during a Crash-Into Hello, or maybe we're just meant to assume they ate the bread off-screen. This may also be a passing reference to the fact that consuming food while walking (or running) in Japan is considered a bit of a faux pas, as you're meant to find somewhere to stand or sit before eating something you're carrying... which obviously wouldn't be of much use when you've got somewhere to be and not much time to get there.

This trope first appeared in 1970s Shoujo series. It eventually became so popular that it began appearing in Shonen, Seinen, Josei, and Kodomo works as well. This joke quickly became a Dead Horse Trope as a result of its popularity. Many guides on how to write an anime-inspired story even specifically note not to use this trope due to it being so incredibly overdone. As a result, most modern examples either lampshade, parody, or invoke the trope.

Compare Easing into the Adventure and Good Morning, Crono. Often combined with Projectile Toast for speedy grabbing.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ah! My Goddess: During her examination for First Class, Urd, dons a blazer and plaid skirt and demands a slice of toast, saying, "A schoolgirl can't run down the street without toast in her mouth!" Skuld comments, "I think you're watching too much anime."
  • Anime-Gataris: In Episode 11, Maaya is running late for school, and catches a piece of toast from the toaster in her mouth before dashing off.
  • Attack on Titan: Junior High: Eren is rushing towards school after he overslept, having a Crash-Into Hello with Krista, who had a slice of bread in her mouth.
  • Black Butler begins the Weston College arc with Ciel running for the school gate and the obligatory toast-in-mouth. It's so out of place that the manga even lampshades how strange the arc began, but that it's still the same series.
  • Black★Rock Shooter:
    • Inverted in the beginning of the OVA. Mato wakes up on time, enjoys her toast at the table (with her mother making comments on her being early), and because she's early going to school, encounters Yomi who has a limousine take her. (And is likely always early or on time.)
    • Parodied in episode 4 of the TV series: Mato's mother tells her that it's rude to go around in public with a piece of toast in one's mouth, to which she replies something like "I always wanted to try doing this". Then her younger brother says he also wants to try it, and does. As would be realistically expected of holding a piece of toast in one's mouth while running, Mato has issues holding it in her mouth, and it eventually breaks.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Sakura has done this a time or two, though she usually eats the toast fairly quickly and she never crashes into anyone.
  • Cat Planet Cuties parodied this. When Antonia transfers to Kio's school, she (and her two bodyguard maids) arrive with pieces of toast in their mouths because she had seen the trope in so many manga she assumed it was a Japanese custom for transfer students on their first day of school.
  • Code Geass: Happens in the Distant Finale with Kallen Kouzuki (who spent the whole show fighting The Empire as a part of La Résistance) hurriedly saying goodbye to her mother and running to school with a piece of toast between her teeth. It serves to show how peaceful the world has become after Lelouch's sacrifice.
  • Shōjo mangaka Koyume invokes this in the second episode of Comic Girls. She is not late, but she plays this trope just because she Thinks Like a Romance Novel.
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys:
    • Parodied. At the beginning of the first episode, Tadakuni runs out of his home with a piece of toast in his mouth, late for school. He's joined by his friend, Yoshitake, who is also late for school... and eating leftover curry while running. Their mutual friend Hidenori then shows up, chastising Yoshitake, saying that obviously he should be eating bread... while slurping noodles.
    • The gag is repeated at the end of the final episode, only this time Yoshitake is eating fondue and Hidenori is eating Brazilian barbecue.
    • Further played with in a High School Boys and Consequences, where Mitsuo is walking down the street, a girl comes running around the corner with toast in her mouth yelling she's late for school... However, Mitsuo bends down to tie his shoelaces, and ends up missing her.
  • Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: In OVA episode, Sayaka is running towards the academy with toast-in-mouth before bumping into Nagito, who promptly gets hit by a truck and lands safely on a tree.
  • Excel♡Saga: Parodied in a high school Bizarro Episode in the manga, when the unusually Genre Savvy Excel states that the surest way to bump into someone important is to run to school with a piece of toast in your mouth. Naturally, it backfires, and she is hit by a car.
  • Fairy Tail: The 18th ending shows an image of Yukino Agria, dressed in a school uniform and running with a partially bitten toast in her hand.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Happens to Sosuke and Kaname all the time; it even gets lampshaded in the comedy spin-off manga Full Metal Panic! Overload, when Kaname realizes she's late for school, she pulls a piece of toast out of her bag and puts it in her mouth before she starts running. The toast even gets a little label that reads "Over-sleeping emergency kit item" (the official English translation makes it more explicit, saying "Don't be late for school without it").
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Parodied in the OVA The Tale of Teacher's First Love where Izumi Curtis is rushing to her actual alchemy teacher while proclaiming how late she is like a typical shoujo protagonist... while carrying a whole bear carcass over her shoulders. She even has a Crash-Into Hello with Sig, who would later become her husband.
  • Go Go Tamagotchi episode 2a has Mametchi working on an invention, being warned by the DoriTama School building that he's late for school, and quickly run downstairs and grab a piece of toast with his mouth before going outside.
  • Hajiotsu has Hinozaki refer to this trope by saying that he was late for school that morning and did the entire toast-in-mouth routine, but is sad that he did not have any Crash Into Hellos. Kai even lampshades this by wondering if that would even "work".
  • Invoked in Inubaka, in which actress Yamarin stars in a bread commercial. The ad begins with Yamarin lamenting that she is late for school, and takes a slice of bread to eat on the way.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Offical Doujinshi: Parodied in chapter 20 where Miko is shown eating a sub sandwich as she runs to school. Although it was actually part of a dream that Osaragi was having.
  • K-On!: Lovable ditz Yui Hirasawa is introduced rushing to her first day of high school with toast in her mouth. However, the "tardiness" part is subverted since it turns out she set her alarm wrong and is an hour early.
  • Completely Subverted in Magical Girl Ore. While late to school, the main character runs off, with a full plate of pancakes covered in whipped cream, fruit, and syrup!
  • Maria†Holic: In an Invoked example, Kanako runs out the door with toast in her mouth in order to meet her true love.
  • Miyuki-chan in Wonderland: Miyuki is constantly Late for School after oversleeping and having multiple Erotic Dreams about other women. A running gag is her with a piece of toast in her mouth. This gets a Continuity Nod in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, where a version of Miyuki can be seen running about with the toast in her mouth in the panoramic shot of every world the group arrives at.
  • Monster Musume: Centorea once considered invoking this trope when she first meets Kurusu after crashing into him.
  • My Heavenly Hockey Club has this as one of the main plot points. Hana is such a Heavy Sleeper that she studied as hard as she possibly could so she could go to the prestigious school 200 meters down the street from her house and sleep as long as possible. She still manages to be late and "runs" (actually, sleepwalks) to school with bread in her mouth, and is subsequently hit by the car driving the male lead to school.
  • Spoofed in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!. During a dream Catarina has of her original life back on Earth, she rushes off to school with a cucumbernote  in her mouth; her mother calls after to remark on how weird it looks, saying "At least use something normal like toast!"
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • During his Alternate Universe experience in the last episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji and Asuka quite literally run into Rei, who is running wildly with a piece of toast in her mouth, trying not to be Late for School.
    • The toast is spoofed in the Petit Eva yonkoma manga, where one of the Reis has whole loaves of bread labelled "breakfast", "lunch" and "dinner".
  • Pokémon the Series: XY: This joke makes an appearance in the 90th episode, as the whole gang (with Tierno and Shauna) wakes up almost late for the Tripokalon/Performance. The gang leaves in a hurry from the Pokémon Center, with Serena and her Pokémon rushing, Clemont carrying Bonnie, who is still in her jammies (and his hair all messed up, presumably his alarm clock blowing up), on his back, Tierno and Shauna running with the latter fixing her hair, and finally Ash running with his eyes still groggy and the classic toast in his mouth, all with Pikachu tucked on his back.
    • Also parodied in a Sun & Moon episode, where Mallow, Lana and Lillie have to replace the lead actresses for a Magical Girl Show Within a Show. Mallow's character is shown being late for school and running out with a croissant in her mouth.
  • Pop Team Epic: Spoofed in the first episode, the first segment of which (after the fake-out opening) is a parody of Your Name.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka runs off to school with toast in her mouth in the first episode, and runs into her friends Sayaka and Hitomi along the way. All, of course, to help trick you into thinking this is a typical Magical Girl show. One fan parody even jokingly pointed out that Madoka actually eats the toast onscreen, noting that "We are going to be one subversive show!"
  • Sailor Moon: Usagi Tsukino is constantly Late for School, and she runs to school with toast in her mouth more than once. In one episode, her father leaves the house with toast in his mouth while running to work.
  • Seitokai Yakuindomo:
    • This is discussed. When Takatoshi is late, Kotomi points out that he shouldn't run to school with a piece of bread in his mouth, since only girls are supposed to do that. A day or two later, she realizes that she's late herself and proceeds to run off with an entire baguette in her mouth.
    • Also mentioned in the ending theme ("Aoi Haru" by Angela), which has a part that approximately translates to: "With toast, at a street corner, crash! I fall in lovenote  / I'm watching too much anime, aren't I?"
    • In the opening credits for the second season, Takatoshi is introduced while playing it completely straight.
  • She's My Knight, Nikaido attempts to invoke this to create a Meet Cute between Mogami and Ichinose.
  • Male preschooler example in the episode I Won't Cry of Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō. Due to waking up late, he runs into the school bus with a piece of toast in his mouth... And his dad runs after him and had to apologize to his teacher because he has forgotten his bag.
  • Shuukan Shounen Hachi: Played for Laughs in the first chapter where among other goofy-looking students, the protagonists see a decolorized girl enacting the cliché when they get to the manga school.
  • Parodied to hell and back in Sket Dance. Roman's shoujo manga almost always starts with this, and always lampshaded by other characters. This being Roman, however, things will get weirder and weirder. In one of the chapters, she has the heroine doing this...while riding a flying Humongous Mecha.
  • Softenni: Asuna and Elizabeth does this, only the latter with an entire loaf of bread.
  • Super Dreadnought Girl 4946: Isaac Montana does this intentionally, complete while trying to eat a slice of bread to get Makoto Tobita's attention with a Crash-Into Hello. This didn't work as Tobita easily dodges. Growing up learning about Japanese from Anime she came to believe this was something of a male fantasy. Ironically Tobita's friend Jinguuji chews him out for dodging it, as he did wish something like that happened to him.
  • Tanaka-kun is Always Listless: Shows up in episode four with Tanaka chewing on a piece of bread as Ohta carries him to class.
  • Played With in Uma Musume Pretty Derby. The horse-girl main character runs to school with a carrot in her teeth instead.
  • Wasteful Days of High School Girls: At the first scene, Tanaka does this, but with a whole bag of sliced bread. It seems to be a common thing for her, as Shiori gives her a jam-like substance (which is actually some type of marine algae) when they meet.
  • World Conquest Zvezda Plot: Itsuka goes undercover as a student at Asuta's school, and plays up the cliche by showing up to school late complete with toast in her mouth. However, she's still carrying her katana and wearing her skull-and-bones Eyepatch of Power, making her acting completely incongruous with her image.
  • You and Me: When the boys are making a manga for a club project, they decide on a fantasy adventure. When Chizuru draws a page, they're surprised to see the genre completely changed and the protagonist is now a school boy. In the first panel, he is late for school with toast in his mouth. One of the characters sarcastically states that running with bread in your mouth seems pretty adventurous.

    Asian Animation 
  • Flower Fairy: Sort of. In the first episode of Season 2, Qianhan calls An'an on the phone to remind her that they're both about to have an appointment to help Wangke at the flower shop. An'an hurriedly gets ready for the day and grabs a breadstick being served to her by her father on the way out. An'an's cat runs along with her and holds another breadstick in its mouth; An'an feeds the second breadstick to Kukuru.

    Fan Works 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Grange Hill: One episode in series 2 begins with Jenkins rushing out of his front door with toast in his mouth.


    Video Games 
  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim: Fitting with the Shoujo feel of her story, Iori Fuyusaka's prologue begins with her running late from school with a toast in her mouth, right before crashing into Ei Sekigahara.
  • Disgaea RPG: Sweet Omega works for the Love Laboratory, a quirky group of demons who roleplay as cliched romantic love interests to spurn the idea of love to others. She plays the role of an athletic high school childhood friend, and she carries with her a piece of toast at all times.
  • Fortune Summoners: One day at school, Marina says:
    This morning I was running late, so I tried running to school with my toast in my mouth.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: Nomi-Nomi writes a holonovel in which the plot is kickstarted while the character standing in for the reader is running to school with a piece of toast in their mouth.
  • The H-game Koikatu has one of the female characters arrive in the classroom late without having taken a single bite of toast.
  • Kuukiyomi 3: Consider It More and More!!: In the sixth situation, the player protagonist, who is still a high school girl, runs with toast in her mouth because she'll be late for school. The player character must either dodge or hit one of the passing boys.You'll achieve a Hidden List achievement "Forgotten Things" if you make the player protagonist go back to her home.
  • League of Legends: Parodied with the Battle Academia skinline, a troperiffic love letter to shounen anime (especially My Hero Academia). With it, a few characters have a bonus animation while running from out of their base with a piece of toast in their mouth — special mention goes to Katarina additionally using her free hand to read a book, while Graves is awkwardly stumbling with a pile of textbooks.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel: Alisa's grandfather asks Rean if he met Alisa while she was turning a corner with a piece of bread in her mouth.
  • Ragnarok Online: A lower headdgear named "Crunchy Toast" can be crafted.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog The Screen Saver: One of the pieces of artwork shows Sonic carrying a suitcase and running somewhere with toast in his mouth.
  • There's an android game called Toast Girl fully embracing this trope.
  • Undertale:
    • In one of Alphys's "human history" books shows a robot rushing off to school, with the obligatory piece of toast in its mouth.
    • In a parody of a common anime romance trope, the epilogue mentions Tsunderplane was late flying to school and bumped into someone while having toast in its mouth.
  • Wario: Master of Disguise: One of the treasures that can be found is the "Lucky Love Toast", whose description says it as it is:
    "If you cram this toast in your mouth and bolt out the door, you will run into the boy or girl of your dreams! Why does this work? We have no idea."
  • Yakuza 0: One sidequest has Majima pretending to be a girl's boyfriend, and one option has them lying and claiming they met when she had a piece of toast in her mouth and they had a Crash-Into Hello. The girl's father immediately points out how this sounds exactly like an anime cliche.
  • Yandere Simulator: In grand anime fashion, this is how it begins, with Yandere-chan meeting her Senpai this way. To complete the cliche, you can even have her with a piece of toast in her mouth, or if you want to get ridiculous, the entire toaster. In game this trope has effects: if she stays up late reading manga or decides to torture a student before school, she shows up one hour late and misses any scripted events that happened. If she's specifically late to class, she loses out on study points necessary to improve her stats, with more points lost the later she is to class.

    Web Animation 
  • Acedemy Sugoi Seiun: Happens to Sakura-nyan, complete with something... in her mouth that is probably meant to be toast.
  • In the beginning of episode 2 of Egoraptor's Girl-chan in Paradise, a direct parody of most anime tropes, Kenstar is "late for the end of school." Taking the parody one step further, Kenstar leaves with toast in his mouth. While it's still in the toaster.
  • Senpai Club is a parody of shoujo anime so of course this trope shows up. Tsumiki ends up late on her first day of high school, runs to school with toast in her mouth, and bumps into a senpai.
  • In the animated short film, Welcome to Hell, the character Jonathan is seen running for the bus with toast in his mouth, while the main character, Sock, tells him, "You're late".

  • Apricot Cookie(s)!: In chapter 6, when Apricot is late for dance practice, she remarks on how she can't be late for school without having toast in her mouth. She then spends the next half-dozen pages trying to invoke this, mainly because she's out of bread.
  • Cursed Princess Club, which is already very Animesque, parodies this when Calpernia is late for Gwendolyn's fancy dinner party at the Pastel Kingdom palace (Calpernia initially didn't think she would be able to go at all because her period, and thus her Giant Spider transformation started earlier than she expected — but it also ended very quickly too). She woke up hungry and shoved some toast into her mouth as she rushed to the palace. While she's not a student (if anything, she's basically one of Gwen's teachers at the Club), Saffron and Thermidora jokingly say bye to her in a way mimicking two parents seeing their kid off to school. Also, it is an evening dinner party she's going to — presumably, she was just that hungry.
  • Dead Winter: One of the Tombstone guards has a piece of toast on their mouth while they are running late for their shift.
  • Mob Psycho 100: The Reigen side story begins with a random girl who's late for school with a toast in her mouth, and then Tome is running after her like that's some impressive sight. Even Reigen becomes curious when told about it and asks if Tome bumped into her when she came across the girl.
  • Parodied by Seyren in Episode 5 of Of Dark Lords And Cabbages, where he believes that this trope is a new-school-year good-luck charm, and later ties a bunch of loaves of bread to his person at a bakery before heading off to class.
  • Shattered Starlight parodies this trope when the main character discusses her childhood as a Magical Girl Warrior.
    Farah: The power of friendship! The power of young love! The power of running late for your math exam with half-eaten toast hanging out the side of your mouth!
  • Sleepless Domain: This is referenced at one point as a Funny Background Event. As Undine and Zoe walk together to their magical girl school, a girl with dark red hair can be seen running ahead of them with a slice of toast in her mouth.
  • Undead Friend: In the first page, Orrick is late for school and is still half asleep, his dad has to push him downstairs and shove his late toast into his mouth for him.

    Web Original 
  • On Tumblr this caused the "Late for [x] (School)" meme where people and characters would be depicted parodying this trope. It has become a meme to put something in one's mouth, and have a picture taken while running, captioning it "I'm late for X school", where X is related to the object in their mouth. This, of course, started with "I'm late for Anime school" with the object being toast.
  • In Pixiv community, the scenario where a character holds a bread in their mouth whenever they are in a hurry is denoted as "パンを咥える" note  or パン食い通学. note 
  • Among the numerous memes of North Korean Heir-Apparent Kim Yo-Jong, there are dozens of memes of her with a piece of toast in her mouth, ranging from photoshopped images to Anime-style drawings.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: In an episode where Peter must work from home, there's a gag about Peter going on a long commute only to have to come back home. At one point, Peter is shown with a piece of toast in his mouth as he rushes out of his home.
  • The Loud House: In the episode "Bye Bye Birthday", Luna, in a hurry to get to her band's rehearsal, leaves the kitchen biting down on a piece of toast.
  • Miraculous Ladybug uses a variant of this trope to perfectly demonstrate its nature as a Japanese/French co-production by showing the heroine Marinette running to school with a croissant in her mouth during the opening theme.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: "Bittersweet Rivals" makes use of this trope, with Enid rushing to class at POINT Prep with a Pop-Tart in her mouth.

Oh man, I'm late for school because I was browsing TV Tropes Wiki! Better grab my freshly-toasted bread and head out now!


Magical Girl Ore

A subversion of the trope involving a plate of pancakes!

How well does it match the trope?

3.67 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ToastOfTardiness

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