|Great Writers Can Captivate!|
Manga is an incredibly versatile field and nowhere does it show it more with this series. You would not normally think that a comic about making bread would be very successful, but surprisingly; the author succeeds in capturing your interest and holding it throughout the series.
England, France, and Germany all are distinctive countries and even part of their national identity is that each one has their own style of bread named after them! But Japan does not. And it is here that the main character's desire appears.
Kazuma Azuma is a young baker who wants to create a signature bread for Japan: a bread that Japanese people will like over rice, their staple dish. One of the frequent puns in the series is that the word "pan" is Japanese for bread, which is why Azuma frequently calls his breads "Ja-pan" for "Japan's Bread".
One thing you will undoubtedly be disappointed with is that they aren't any bakers in the real world which seem to populate the Yakitate!! manga. They are unusual, quirky, and a bit deranged; but they are craftsmen who are absolutely dedicated to their art. One might think that this series would be boring but frequently Azuma finds challenges wherever he goes such as competing for a job at a prestigious bakery; to discovering that the second-rate tiny bake shop that he is employed at has a monster bakery chain store right across the street from them and is danger of being closed down; to a worldwide international bakery contest; and even a villainous hostile takeover attempt by their chief competitor where they end up fighting it out across Japan in breadmaking showdowns but despite it all, Kazuma simply sees that these challenges as merely helping him in his quest to create his perfect "Ja-pan".
Interspaced between these periods are actual ingredient breakdowns of bread recipes and scientific explanations as to the hows and whys specific breads manage to accomplish things. It's a rollicking ride and the supporting characters are gems and there is quite a lot of visual humor and puns thrown in as well. It starts getting extraordinarily ludicrous towards the end but the absurdity build-up is so gradual that you simply accept it and go along with it because it's so damn funny.
The artwork is great with wonderfully drawn characters and backgrounds are impressively detailed and rendered. Takashi Hashiguchi (writer and artist) does some wonderful artwork and some truly great expressive characters as well as some rather funny looking ones as well. As I mentioned before, he throws a lot of visual humor into the manga and it shows, but he also knows how not to go overboard with them as he doles it out carefully without turning the entire manga into a showcase about the weird and strange looking characters.
I think that it is because the whole concept is so offbeat and so unusual that is why Yaitate!! managed to kept my attention held throughout the stories when it should have waned. The fact of the matter is that it is campy, it is cheesy; yet it does so in a completely gentle, innocent, and refreshing sort of way yet it doesn’t go completely overboard like some other manga series do, relying on sheer ridiculousness to brazen it’s way out of the fact that the characters and storyline is stupid. It reminds us that a great writer can turn anything; no matter how strange or bizarre into excellent entertainment if they’re good enough to create captivating enough characters and storylines.
RATING: 5 STARS!!!!!