Yakitate!! Japan, Part One – Review

Yeah, I reviewed a show about bread. WHAT OF IT? Yakitate!! Japan isn’t actually that bad or anything, but I can’t say I recommend it – it’s a pretty standard shounen tournament show, it just happens to also be all about bread. Lots of wackiness, plenty of absurd rivalries, etc. It was perfectly watchable, and certainly didn’t require all that much unpacking, but there are many, many better ways you could spend your time.

You can check out my review here! Way too many goddamn bread notes below.

Yakitate!! Japan

Episode 1

Not widescreen

Fighting with bread

Classic yellow subs

A boy who wants to create the “Japan bread”

“Hands of the Sun” – warm hands for making bread

Classic early 00s style

Ja-pan. Nice pun

Kazuma Azuma is the MC

Writing isn’t great. Art isn’t great

Just a bread shounen

I seriously can’t tell what’s a joke

Just big stupid expressions

The first episode is actually explaining how bread works. Nice


The show just isn’t funny

This is a really slow opening

Kneading animation!

Wacky overreactions

I guess you have to find this kind of humor funny

Japan’s top bakery, Pantasia

Oh wow, HxH contest about joining the bakery

Ryu Kuroyanagi is the test administrator

Episode 2

Kyousuke Kawachi is the blond dude

The girl helps him, giving him her hair band

This is just a straight-up HxH exam

“This is…” craziness

“this kid’s stupid, but his hands are the real deal.” Classic shounen protag

We’re getting this from the perspective of the competition-killer

The rye bread dude uses a katana, of course

“How can you tell without tasting?” “BECAUSE I’M ME.” Great answer

The girl’s an “ara ara” type

I really like their over-the-top bread explanations. The over-the-top reactions not as much


So he made naan accidentally, out of ignorance, to go with curry, which he thinks is Japanese

The girl seems absurdly supportive

They need to make croissants for round two

Episode 3


His various bread types keep giving him secret weapons

The show keeps using silly visual metaphors for its bread

The girl is the granddaughter of the president of the company. And she’s in cahoots with Azuma now

And now they’re doing a 2001 parody for croissants

Azuma too nice!

Episode 4

Now they’re working at the girl’s Pantasia South Tokyo branch

Kageto Kinoshita is the other employee

This release still has those hideous yellow subs

Kyousuke is the grump with big dreams

Tsukino is the girl

Today’s French bread. Learning French bread stats

Ken Matsushiro is the manager

And he’s got an afro and hip flash and shades. Welp

He tests his bread on the horses


“I like that look in your eyes.” Classic shounen beats

“Make good grazing bread!”

So now they must impress their sensei

The horses don’t like additives like butter

The manager’s sister was injured in a freak butter-allergy accident, giving him a lifelong distrust of butter. Lol


Azuma remains the super-emotional idiot

Episode 5

I’m not really a fan of the “loud noises and crazy reactions” school of anime comedy, but this show plays off its classic shounen/sports format while also holding close enough to it to actually keep the story moving and interesting

Azuma wants milk from his old cow, Hanako

His sister races it there on her bike

The manager failing at horse racing is a pretty great understated gag

He made it using goat butter. His secret weapon!

The “and I’ll explain just how I did it” moments are pretty great

The manager exploding his shirt off and striking fighting poses to explain the yeast he uses

Explaining the benefits of germinated brown rice yeast in a post-apocalyptic landscape while firing energy beams

“You are already bread” OH MY GOD

Kyousuke just keeps having his goddamn hallucinations

Episode 6

I feel like the OP should be more hot-blooded

They gotta fight St. Pierre, the main store of their biggest rival

Mokoyama is their absurd manager

The expressions are pretty good

Some lame flamboyant gay jokes here, but that’s shounen

Alright, really doubling down on the “he’s effeminate, that’s ridiculous” jokes

Meister Kirisaki – a bunch of doves precede his exit from the limo, and he wears an absurd mask, cape, and tuxedo. The main store’s general manager

The bad guy’s ridiculous, but everyone’s ridiculous, so I’m pretty okay with it

Of course bread competitions are huge news that get major TV coverage

I’m always interested to see how the contests end, how he wins

Episode 7

A massive stadium for the competition

The side characters are already kinda useless, and the girl always has been

The characters narrating exposition

The show has a classic “we will rock you” song for the anticipation moment, horns and trills for the big victory scenes

I like the characters commenting on their hallucinations

He’s realized the dream of… not throwing good bread away

Dramatic twists focused on the pricing of the new breads

Episode 8

And he’s already gotten a competition invitation, to the Pantasia Rookie Competition. TOURNAMENT TIME

They have to make normal loaves that won’t mold for three weeks

Best friend dude is finally feeling bad about just riding Azuma’s coattails

Sucks to be inferior

“Do you want hands of the sun? I know how to get them?” Aw jeez, what’s Girl thinking?

“Why not just be reborn as Kawachi Prime?”

The girl’s thing is being kinda mysterious, I guess

So she wants to remodel the store, and also wants to believe in Kawachi. Getting some character for both of the side leads

Kyousuke’s father had a bread dream

Holy crap, his dad actually died in a fire

So that’s his motivation – to carry out his father’s dream, and help his family

Found a typo in the script

He wants to get muscular to increase blood circulation, which will create “gauntlets of the sun”

Episode 9

Kyousuke’s getting all the crazy strength training

Tsukino’s thing is “kinda scary in a smiley way”

“That’s why avoided making any clear explanations.” Another typo

Oh my god, Azama’s crazy face

Silly slapstick jokes. Eh

He made wasabi-flavored bread

Wasabi blocks bacterial production

This dramatic music for Kousaka’s despair is pretty good

And his sad siblings are also great

Sad sax music for his moping

“Disinfectant?!” Has Kousaka discovered his bread idea?!?

Love this tense drums track for Kousaka figuring his plan out

Bread montage!

Kousaka’s bread has brandy in it. Disinfectant

Manager being all tough love with Kousaka. Manager’s great. Really entertaining guy

And Kousaka thanks the manager. He’s grown so much

Episode 10

So now we’re in full tournament mode

Kousaka wearing crazy arm weights, of course

Azama feels sad. His friend is gone

Crazy dogs smell out which bread aren’t mold-resistant

Samurai dude demands a rematch, his master (the first competition judge) says he must not lose

“Why does someone with your skill pursue the way of bread?” lol

The show’s visual imagery is what is necessary. So is the storytelling. It has momentum, but not necessarily spice, and definitely not brilliance

Manager telling Azama to be a true rival to Kousaka

And of course Azama is literally mining for the ingredients he needs. Clay, this time

The music cues create their own jokes

Good pacing to this pre-tournament stuff

Samurai dude just does waterfall training

Really unfunny jokes about old people. Plenty of unfunny jokes in this show

Pretty great closeups

Suwabara is the samurai dude

I really love Azuma valuing his pink hairband so much

Episode 11

Jokes about Kuroyanagi being old, even though he’s 22. Don’t do this to me, shounens

Another qualifying round, since there were too many successful applicants

Umino Katsuo, another kid, getting dressed down for his bad bread

“What’s the harm in just testing them again?” Azuma being the shounen hero

He accepts being riffraff, but wants another chance


Kuroyanagi challenges them to eat the rotten bread

“He just picked out his bread by smell alone. His nose…” NOSE POWERS

These Kuroyanagi faces are great

“Have you forgotten? Forgotten what’s most important to a bread maker? IT’S HEART. PASSION. GUTS.” This fuckin’ show

Now they have to make butter rolls

“The main store has no use for bakers who can’t determine the quality of butter without tasting it!” They have eight butters to choose from, and some are way better than others

“I can’t make any careless moves.”

Oh no! He chose the WORST BUTTER dun dun dun

Umino keeps getting compared to a pig. But his nose gave him the right butter!

Kyousuke chooses the non-melting butter. The judge decides this shows he’s grown as a man. Of course

“His butter roll has a fatal flaw. Let this be a lesson in how weak you are!”

Azuma lacks the experience and knowledge of an expert. That’s his weakness

“There’s no way he could make a good butter roll with butter C!” ominous music

A new girl character appears

Episode 12

Butter C was actually margarine! Oh no!

Mizuno is the girl, and Tsukino is her older sister. Baggage

Mizuno’s pretty giddy

Azuma wins through “vapor action”

Some of the jokes just don’t work – they’re either not funny, or references to obscure bits of Japanese culture that don’t translate. Like this reference to a specific Japanese comedy duo

Oh no, drama between Mizuno and Tsukino. Apparently different mothers?

Yukino is the third, oldest sister

All three sisters are competing for succession, and Tsukino was the one who was born to a mistress. Tsukino’s sisters have much more successful branches

Her dad’s backing the youngest sister, her grandfather’s backing the oldest one. Tsukino has no support

Kyousuke’s getting worked up over it

So now Kyousuke’s motivated to win to earn her more support

Oh dang, the sushi guy is visiting their shop

Azuma’s fighting Mizuno immediately

And yeah, of course this bread competition is resolved through a series of duals

There’s a guy named “Koala” who actually wears a koala mask. He’s from Mizuno’s branch

Melon bread is the first round

If Azuma wins, Mizuno has to call Tsukino “sis.” If Mizuno wins, Azuma goes to her branch

Episode 13

Azuma’s competition is melon bread, and he’s not good at it

The animation takes a lot of shortcuts, and is generally limited, as you’d expect in a long-running shounen

Azuma has to perfect the unperfected melon bread design!

Eating sushi gives Azuma his inspiration. I assume he’s discovered he needs some kind of welding agent between the bread and cookie dough

Oh my god these awful CG melons

Azuma asks out Tsukino! For cooking, I’m sure

It’s because he doesn’t have any money, lol

A suspicious baker called “Motohashi”

Some off-model shots

Oh, he’s going to bake the two parts separately so they cook correctly and then weld them together? It’s fun to guess what his trick will be

Kuroyanagi’s such a dick, lol

A melon-dodging Matrix parody

Oh my god, this CG disco dance with the manager ED. Welp

Episode 14

Yuko Motohashi is Kyousuke’s opponent

“The woman with the hands of the mommy” okay

DBZ charging riff now. She’s straight doing a Kamehameha

And then it turns out she’s totally harmless and he wins easily. It was just the manager fucking with him to make sure he kept taking things seriously

Mizuno hanging onto her koala-giant’s arm as she challenged Azuma is pretty great. The incidental jokes are the good ones

“Spencer Henry Hoko, or Shachihoko for short” – Azuma’s next opponent, the American who wears a baseball uniform while baking

He has a Nagoya fetish. More stuff that just doesn’t translate

This time they’re making yakisoba noodles

Azuma’s never made yakisoba before – his sister always made the noodles, he made the bread

“Manager, what are you doing?” “Oh, just being the voice of Tsukino’s heart.”

So they visit a crazy Chinese martial arts master to learn about making noodles. Of course

Mr. Liu

Episode 15

“I wasn’t born with talent, like that idiot Azuma. That’s why I gotta go all-out against every opponent I face.” Kyousuke is pretty important to this show

Kyousuke makes a hot dog-shaped yakisoba

“They’re becoming a good team.” Yep. Kyousuke shores up Azuma’s weaknesses

“This sort of thing is Kawachi’s job!” This gag goes on too long, but the self-aware kicker is good

“Secret Technique: Dragon Twister!”

The characters generally win not by being better at cooking, but coming up with a trick to laterally attack the challenge. Which makes sense, since that makes it an understandable puzzle, and not just “his food tastes better!” And there’s always a big reveal, and the opponent can always be traditionally stronger

“They’ll cancel this series if you show your cock!” WELP

“This bread reeks of danger!”

Azuma essentially makes a panini, elevating the bread in order to play into his strengths

His friends helped him win this time

Episode 16

Liu Loamian is fighting Koala

The Koala is Mokoyama, Azuma’s old opponent from St. Pierre

Weird pacing this episode

The assignment is animal bread!

“I’ll be grading you in artistry in addition to taste”

Azuma needs a secret ingredient, of coruse

A new, more accomplished examiner is joining Kuroyonagi

Dave Hasiguchi and his assistant Heidi, who arrive in a bulldozer through the wall

A former manga artist, so this is the author stand-in. And he’s immensely fat, and travels everywhere by bulldozer

“Does he break the wall every year?”

Azuma needed glucose syrup

Another Dragonball reference

Azuma made a shining green turtle

Episode 17

“I didn’t expect Kuro to take his dragon-bread reaction in that direction!” The reactions are a big part of the shtick, though they never really do much for me

It feels like everyone’s becoming more conscious of the show’s gimmicks, too


Mokoyama really winning the crowd with this chivalrous display

“…and I became a koala.” As you do

“If nothing changes, Pantasia will be taken over by St. Pierre.” Eventually the sisters will have to join forces to win!

Never has a man in a koala mask left with so much dignity

Koala and Mizuno embrace in the rain. A touching moment. My god, this show

Episode 18

Tsukino’s missing Kyousuke’s round. She’s visiting her mother’s grave

“She isn’t skipping because she doesn’t respect you. She’s skipping because she believes in you and knows you’ll win!” And Kyousuke buys that

Shigeru Kanmuri, new character. Pink hair

“It’s so strange. Each round I give my opponents a sample of my bread, but then they drop out!” So this is the ominous low-key one

Katsuo (pig kid) made a bread in the shape of his hot wife

Oh my god, Manager using his Tsukino cutout to add her to the reaction shots and then yanking it off for his own reaction is great

Pig kid is actually 31 years old. Welp

He married a part-time employee at his shop. Welp

Kyousuke deeply amused by his own moving crab bread

Oh shit, pink hair is working for Yukino, the oldest sister

Kyousuke really overselling this joke

The semifinals are freestyle. Any bread is allowed

Kanmuri’s playing the friend, of course. He’s the secretly devious type

Wow, pretty intense story of Yukino messing with Tsukino’s mother’s ashes

Can’t really invest in this emotional stuff, though. Though I guess I’m far past the target audience for that

Episode 19

Kuroyonagi graduated from the Harvard culinary school

Now we’re getting a greatest hits of Kuroyonagi reactions. Yeah, cost-cutting flashbacks

Kanmuri’s likely the new student of food science, following in Kuroyonagi’s footsteps

“What they’re researching is most highly anticipated thing in the industry.” Another typo

He might have a special natural yeast. Bread science

And of course it cuts right to a lab with beakers and test tubes and whatnot

Kanmuri has little love for Yukino. Clearly he’ll end up with the good guys

Meister Kirisaki shows up for the semis

It is finally completed!” Oh bread science

Jokes about Kanmuri and Kuroyanagi being in a forbidden romance. I’m not even really annoyed – all this show’s jokes are harmless boy-show absurdity

“Germinated brown rice yeast plus Gauntlets of the Sun, activate!”

Yukino sabotaged Kyousuke’s ingredients

Episode 20

Kanmuri’s not happy to have his own victory stolen by cheating

Yukino’s got some great evil smiles

Kanmuri devised marine yeast, a special kind of yeast from the sea

These alternate subs for Kuro’s revery are great

Yeah, more “I’m not gay” jokes. Meh

Kyousuke’s falling apart

So they’ll investigate the bread

Kyousuke dying in Tsukino’s arms

Samurai dude still burns with the desire to defeat Azuma

“Super Vapor Action 648 Croissant!”

Kai Suwabara, that’s the samurai dude’s name

Episode 21

So now he’s going to make the mightiest bread, Ja-pan No. 44

“Sorry, Suwabara. I’m going to win.” HE’S READY

“Everyone else put way more on the line than me, and it felt like they were desperate to win. But I can’t afford to lose either. I’m sorry.”

Suwabara manically explaining his technique as Azuma glumly and resolutely works towards victory

“I ate Kazuma Azuma’s bread, and died from its overwhelming deliciousness.”

An extended sequence of Kuronoyagi and the mangaka insert departed to cabaret heaven

“When Ja-pan 44 turns out really well, sometimes people who eat it go to heaven.” Right, of course

“People whose lives aren’t over always go back to the living world.” Azuma’s bread is so good that it actually transports people to heaven, which is a place, where an angel bunny girl explains about other people who’ve been transported there by bread. This is pretty good

So apparently Azuma’s grandfather made that slab for him, and his grandfather is someone important

Episode 22

Flashbacks to the bread reactions again. Saving time with what are normally my least favorite parts of the episodes, but which I guess are a big part of the reward for some people?

Very long flashbacks this time

Winner gets one million yen, a study abroad in France, and a chance to work at the main store

Suwabara and Kyousuke will fight for third place

Manager advises Kyousuke to visit a place where he learned “the most important thing about bread”

Kanmuri might also have Hands of the Sun!

Or he may have heated his hands through the power of Bread Science


Oh noo, Yukino’s gonna fuck up his slab

Wow, she’s just, uh, destroying it

Yukino being gleefully evil is great

Episode 23

Kyousuke visits St. Andrew’s Church

“What’s with this plotline?”

Locked in the church by a crazy nun

He confesses to sabotaging Azuma during the first competition

Abusing his slab caused Azuma to realize he has to innovate. So now he’s going to make a new bread, Ja-pan 60

Yukino’s ridiculous leather outfit is great

Kanmuri’s yeast is salt-resistant, allowing him to make it saltier and more springy, apparently

Azuma’s also going for a springy, water-heavy bread

Kanmuri learns Yukino stole the slab

Yukino looking absurd as ever, in a crazy gothic lolita red dress

“I’m not serving that woman because I like her.”

“I have a demolition team standing by at your lab.” Ahaha Yukino

Oh god no Kyousuke got an afro too

Episode 24

The manager is of course impressed with his afro

Everyone is eternally “but that’s crazy, Azuma!”

The crowd doing the work of “what are you doing, you crazy kid?!” this time

They play up the reactions of the Maister, but he just reacts like a normal friggin’ human being

Aaand nevermind, he grew a giant peacock frond

He’s “capable of expressing concrete deliciousness reactions with his body, like Dave”

“Don’t say that like it’s not insane”

Kanmuri made “pain rustique,” a very springy french bread

Yukino doing her bragging now. The story understands how to fit its various beats in between the suspense releases of the various competition stages

And the Meister flies around on a bird sprouting from his head. Just bread contest things

The Meister used to sell bread on the streets, and used magic tricks to attract customers

“Does this mean all the score birds are in his mask somewhere?” “Guess so!”

Azuma made “vital gluten” by washing the first bread until it broke apart, leaving only the gluten, which he incorporated into the second bread

“We bread creators are strongest when we have enough dreams and passion to overturn common sense.” This show really, really hammers on creativity being the key to victory. It has the “hard work, friendship, victory” trio of Shounen Jump, but creativity is also key here

Episode 25

Oh dang, Kanmuri’s lab actually gets blown up

Tsukino hasn’t been anything but the cheerleader for a pretty long time

Sister Mako Graham – a french artisan baker

Kyousuke has some confidence now that he’s done well in the competition

More untranslatable puns. More references: “shout love at the heart of the afro”

“How many times do you plan to say ‘what the?’ in your lifetime?” She actually nails his character type in-show

“They broke free of conventions to shock their patrons with bold ideas.” Creativity again

Calling him a minor character directly

“Cast off common sense and get an afro!”

“And that’s how my ruthless afro training at St. Andrew’s Church began.”

“I’ll show you my singin’ french bread!”

The show doesn’t drag out portions of fights it doesn’t need to. It’s pretty good about keeping things moving

“You can’t defeat my ‘dancing french bread!’”

Episode 26

Suwabara made a kind of snake loaf that… well, it looks like a poop

And Kyousuke’s chirps in the oven. Cute

More questionable bread history in the wake of the dancing bread

Azuma declines going to the main store, of course

There seems to be a disk-skip error right after the halfway point of this episode, during the “would you want to leave the story” conversation – TRY IT ON THE COMPUTER

These American designs are fantastic

Kuroyanagi’s delusions just make less and less sense

Suwabara and Kyousuke tie, Suwabara through excellent fundamentals, Kyousuke through innovation

Episode 27

Kyousuke wants to go to the main store, while Kanmuri wants to transfer to South Tokyo with Azuma

Yukino attempting to take credit for Kanmuri’s transfer, and sway her grandfather to make Yukino co-heir with Tsukino

The Meister is also aware Yukino’s a snake

St. Pierre’s owner is Meister Kirisaki’s dad

So he cast off his identity as the St. Pierre owner’s son, and since has been masked

Things are back to being lowkey again

Azuma’s got people who know him from TV now

Ja-Pan No. 2

One last reaction

“Plus, even the Yakitate!! Japan producers can make this one!”

And now they’re actually going through the baking process in live-action. Lol

Now the whole cast is talking about the show producers

Aw shit, Yukino plotting with the owner of St. Pierre