Yakitate!! Japan was probably the first manga/comic I ever bought in book form. It first came out in 2002 and has since been made into an animation. It holds a special place in my heart, and I’ve never found another manga that matches it. Translates to “Freshly baked!! Ja-Pan” (Pan also being the word for bread) it’s a manga about a boy who wishes to make the bread that will be known as the bread of Japan.
The only way I can describe the story, characters and everything about this series is CRAZY. The concept is pretty decent. A young boy, Kazuma Azuma who loves bread, dreams of making a bread so good it will forever be recognised as the national bread of Japan (much like the baguette is known in France). To do so he enters the baking competition to get a job at the prestigious chain “Pantasia” and from there it’s just 26 volumes of bread making competitions. Seriously.
So what makes it so crazy? The bread that is made are all pretty well known, croissants, melon bread, baguettes. But everything is just so eccentric. The winner being the reactions from the judges when eating the bread. For instance, when tasting the croissant, it is so good that the judge bends over backwards in the shape of the crescent moon. That’s probably the tamest reaction I can think of.
All the characters are equally eccentric and the entire manga is heavily comedy based. It has a lot of slapstick and word puns which have translated well over english. Very easy to read, but also very addictive. I found myself thinking “they can’t get any crazier than this!” and then they bring out a nun that teaches you how to make baguettes and gives you an afro. She also lives in an afro house. Or that Brad Pitt somehow represents all white males in America.
This manga is great for all you food lovers out there. You’ve never wanted to eat bread so much in your life, but I warn you, it’s a bit disappointing. I finally ate melon bread and I didn’t turn into a melon like they promised me. They do have some recipes though, and to be honest, your entire outlook on how important bread is in your life will change. Even though everything is comical, you can see the importance placed on freshness and preparation. I think Japan as a country really loves food.
Other great food manga you should check out are:
“Addicted to Curry” – Lots and LOTS of curry recipes. Pretty much a recipe for every curry they show, and they show a lot. A little more serious, but still full of jokes.
“Toriko” – Set in the “Gourmet Age” it’s made up entirely of hunting down fantasy foods you’ll wish existed!
“Hell’s Kitchen” – A devil posses a boy to turn him into the perfect chef so that he can eat his soul.