Yakitate!! Japan 16Posted: March 30, 2009
The sense of humor in this series is… weird. Very weird. I think a lot of it might be puns and jokes that don’t translate well, or I may just not get it, but there is some bizarre stuff going on in this series. Notably though, it went through all the trouble of finally explaining that the visual gag that has driven me crazy all these years (the gag where people have three holes on their face instead of features and have their arms positioned as if in a run… or the gyroids in the Animal Crossing games) is an allusion to haniwa statues, and it even talks about the area that’s famous for them and everything. I had a haniwa joke overload in the first half of the book.
It appears that the characters are embroiled in a bread baking competition where they need to make breads to bring out the flavor of localities chosen at random. The first area in this book is famous for mangoes and haniwa, and the second area is famous for… curves, I think. Most of the story in this book deals with the first city, though. There’s a chapter or so of aftermath from the last battle to build up the opponents, then a couple chapters where the bread is researched and strengths and weaknesses are discussed, a couple chapters dealing with the competition and its aftermath, a chapter about Kazuma’s grandpa and the flour he’s excited about sending Kazuma, and a couple chapters at the end about the preliminaries about the next battle.
Apparently every stage of the competition is judged by the same person, and his reactions are all conveyed in puns. The actual pun reaction in this volume isn’t a bad English pun (the bread is more than it “Tapirs” to be, where he’s riding a tapir around… hats off for coming up with a good pun for a tapir), but his second reaction is less a pun and more of a visual gag. There are a lot of visual gags in this series. Thinking about it, it’s not so much that the puns don’t translate, because great lengths are gone to in order to make the puns work in English, which is impressive… I think it’s just that I didn’t get the sense of humor. And there’s a TON of humor, to the point where if it’s not something you’re into, it’s not likely you’ll enjoy the series. A lot of extreme character reactions, weird faces, things going on that are opposite what you would expect… stuff like that. None of it falls flat, exactly, it’s just kind of quirky, and you’re not sure if they’re making a joke or not. It’s just kind of weird.
I do have another volume of this, so I plan to read a little more, if only to see that judge react with puns again. I have to admit that’s kind of cool. The rest of the series is just weirdness though, and I have to see if it’s something I can get used to.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.