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A story about a burned piece of bread and the life lessons he learns.
In a Hokkaido bakery, a little red bean bun looks forward to being one of the 20 most delicious buns in the shop. However, the baker accidentally drops him, and the bun is burned. Overcooked for 30 minutes, he is eventually retrieved from the oven, but now with a blackened crust that will render him forever unable to enter the ranks of the elite buns. Bullied and mocked by the other buns, he gains the nickname Kogepan, or Burned Bread. He runs away from home and takes up smoking and heavy drinking (of milk), but eventually returns to the bakery, where he reads a book on self-improvement, hoping one day to be as perfect as the other buns. His friends include the similarly fire-damaged Cream Bread and Charcoal Bread (who is even worse off), and the Pretty Breads, who are always happy and perfect, and do not understand the poignancy of Kogepan's life. Wildean pathos ensues, in a tale that takes the bakery-themed children's entertainment of Anpanman and introduces a note of irredeemable tragedy. Kogepan is doomed to languish unsold while his perky golden-crusted companions fulfil their destiny and fly off the racks into the wide world, although perhaps it is best that he doesn't see his friends getting eaten alive each week-compare to Kappamaki and the Sushi Kids. Stationery, accessories, and other merchandise featuring the characters created by Miki Takahashi enjoyed some popularity but didn't attain the heights of Tare Panda, let alone Hello Kitty.