is a semi-educational series following the challenges of a young boy, Azuma Kazuma, as he tries to create a national bread for Japan, “Japan” (a pun on “pan” meaning bread). With “solar hands” allowing accurate control of yeast fermentation, his baked concoctions cause over-the-top anime reactions from anyone who takes a bite. He comes from a small town to the big city to compete first for a job, and then in baking competitions.
I haven’t yet figured out if this program intends to convince children to become bakers, or if it’s simply an example of the Japanese fetishization of competitions combined with their impressive love of food. There’s also an attention to accuracy admirable for an anime; they apparently employ the owner of a Kyoto bakery to concoct the show’s creations in reality. Truth checking, or brilliant marketing ploy? Either way, watching an episode kicks my pastry cravings into high gear.
As far as I’ve been able to tell, the only way to watch this show is to go out and find a fan-subtitled version on one of the BitTorrent forums; maybe someday it’ll show up on a legitimate American DVD, but it’s a little too dedicated to its niche to find mainstream appeal here, and is far too manic for the Food Network to ever import it. Thankfully, the fan subtitlers tend to put in extra notes explaining the frequent puns, a subtlety I’ve never seen captured by a commercial subtitler.
Wikipedia Entry (contains spoilers)