Yakitate!! Japan

Genre: Shounen (sports?), comedy
Length: 69 episodes
Score: Good

Azuma Kazuma is a young prodigy baker, whose dream is to create the definitive Japanese bread – the Ja-pan. He applies to the most prestigious chain of bakers, Pantasia, but first he has to get through a rigorous recruitment exam. Can his bread triumph?

As expected of a series whose entire premise is a pun, this is extremely silly. Not satisfied with having competitions to produce the world’s best croissant (with 324 layers of butter!), it has extreme bread made with deep-sea yeast, shiny green bread shaped like a turtle, and a test where they have to make French bread that a horse will eat.

The best bit is the reaction sequence when somebody eats a delicious bread. They range from a sequence of indian themes on biting into a naan, to a bullet-time dodging of flying melons on eating the perfect melonpan, to somebody producing a peacock out of their head and flying round the room. At one point, somebody actually goes to heaven for a few minutes – and are declared dead by the ambulance crew – after eating bread baked on a petalite.

The genre of sports may seem surprising, but I put it there with Hikaru No Go as “trainee learns skills and triumphs against opponents in a fair competition”, which is different from real Shounen where the rules are optional and the bad guys really are bad guys. In keeping with the genre, despite his natural talent Kazuma starts the series knowing sod all about the outside world.

There’s no deep plot here, but it’s daft, charming and utterly funny.

Note that I’ve only seen the first twenty-something episodes.