023: Yakitate!! Japan

Aired: Fall 2004
Genres: Comedy
Date watched: Dec 20 2018 – Dec 23 2018
Series watched: Yakitate!! Japan (69 ep x 24 mins)
Links: MAL

Why I started watching: It has been a running gag in my Discord that I hate bread, so people recommend bread-related things to me at every opportunity. In all seriousness, Yakitate!! was recommended because of the over-the-top reactions, which they thought I’d like. I also was feeling adventurous whilst still on the euphoric high of Chihayafuru, and wanted to try something weird and new.

I didn’t realise at the time I started Yakitate!! that it had 69 episodes. Yikes. For some reason I thought it was in the low 50s. It probably worked fine as a weekly episodic show, but for binge-watching like I do, the sheer length of the series, and the amount of unnecessary plot padding, definitely hurt it for me. The anime basically goes through four “tournament” arcs – a first introductory contest that explains how Azuma gets his job, and then three longer (and progressively more ridiculous) ones against tougher competition. The first three arcs were still pretty decent, and I enjoyed them, but by the time I got to the fourth tournament, it felt like the show was dragging its feet, the premise was uninspiring, and even the reactions had gone a bit stale. It still needed the fourth arc in order to round out the anime into a complete story, as it resolves the main plot points floating around since the start, but that arc was poorly executed and pretty much killed the show for me.

Even then, the reactions were always fun to watch, and even though I felt that the quality of the reactions had peaked in the third arc, the fourth arc still had some really memorable reactions. To explain, everytime a tournament judge samples a piece of high quality bread in the show, their eyes roll back in their head and they experience a “reaction” – basically a shared hallucination, an over the top experience akin to when a character in a JRPG fires off their Ultimate/Ex Skill and has a cutscene of something wild happening. Except these are even more outlandish, and there are quite a few reactions that stretch on for several minutes, spanning every genre from sci-fi, to fantasy, to mythology and the supernatural, to action fights. and much, much more. It was like watching little snippets of other random anime within this one, and the viewer never knew where each cutscene would take them next!

This was the first show I watched that didn’t feature a female character in part of the main cast. Even though Tsukino was listed as one on MAL, she had very little screen time since she wasn’t a baker. Call me sexist, but I prefer anime with role models I can look up to, or characters I can see myself in and cheer on, and I am wary of and usually avoid those that don’t feature one, as I feel less of a connection to them. I’m unsure if that was the cause or not, but i definitely felt that the entire cast of characters was as flat as Kawachi’s dough. In particular, I disliked Kawachi a lot – a character trope that really gets on my nerves is when a guy character puts another one into a headlock as a sign of “friendly macho-ism”, and this happens a lot with Kawachi. He was also incredibly annoying through the entire show, and seemed to be just there as comic relief for large chunks of it.

This was a difficult show to binge through. By about the halfway point of the show, I was trying to skip the OP and ED as much as possible, and the show had completely lost me except for the reaction scenes by the last arc, to the point where I would just have it running on the other monitor while multitasking on the main one. Due to that, while a couple of the nine OP/ED songs were decent, I was sadly unable to make positive associations with any of them in order to save them to my stash. The reactions were tons of fun to watch, and I cackled like a maniac at some of them, but that’s all the show had going for it. Even the graphics were dated and didn’t really stand the test of time.

  • Base: 9
  • Mood: -3
  • Plot: -1
  • Music: +0
  • Misc: -1

Final Score: 4/10