Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yakitate!! Japan volume 1 Impression

I love action manga. Series like O-Parts Hunter, Naruto, King of Hell, series with fights and adventures, journeys, the hero on the brink of defeat just to come back and win. Yakitate!! Japan is not an action manga, it does not have super powers, chapter after chapter fights or scantily clad heroines, it’s got dough, lots and lots of dough … and I love it!

Yakitate!! Japan from Viz with story and art by Takashi Hashinguchi, is a story about a young boy, Kazuma Azuma, who has vowed to make Ja-pan, a bread that is unique to Japan and world renowned. He possesses the ‘Hands of the Sun’ and a drive to be the best (is this sounding like an adventure manga now?). Kazuma departs his childhood home having slowly crafted his bread making at a local bakery and tested his various Ja-pan’s on his family. The ultimate test for Kazuma was getting his grandfather to submit to Ja-pan. Like many Japanese his grandfather prefers rice, good ol’ home grown rice to bread. By crafting a unique bread that even his grandfather cannot resist Kazuma decides it’s time to hit the road, onto Pantasia.

The intro to the story is basic; boy has a dream, hidden power and sets out on a journey. The twist is that the story is about break, about baking bread. I’ve learned more than I though I would by reading up to volume 6 of Yakitate!! Japan, and like a warm melt-in-your-mouth butter roll fresh from the oven, I’m hooked. Takashi pens a manga that at times reminds me of the zaniness found in Excel Saga and others the seriousness of Vampire Knight. Great character design is not always needed in a well written manga, but what Takashi pulls off is art that really draws the reader into break making. Kazuma’s rise up the Pantasia rookie ranks is as engaging as it is funny. Who know baking a loaf could be this much fun.

Each volume of Yakitate!! Japan just gets better and better. I urge anyone with an interest in action manga to take a departure from your comfort zone and pick up a volume, you won’t be disappointed. Great art mixed with a great story makes for a recipe that is sure to rise to the top of the manga charts. Give it a taste.

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