Yakitate!! Japan 23

Takashi Hashiguchi – Viz – 2010 – 26 volumes

I feel like I’m missing some story between this volume and the last, but that might just be because it opens with a bizarre nonsequitor story focusing on a side character from an earlier point in the series, then starts fresh with a new “worst scenario” conflict in the Yakitate 25 that I’m missing out on a little by not having read earlier volumes.

The story in the first chapter really is a gem, though.  It’s about a little kid that won a “Shounen Monday” contest (apparently a spoiled rich brat that has appeared before) learning from Kuroyanagi how to be a taster.  Kuroyanagi goes into great detail about the tests one must take to be a taster, which is actually pretty fascinating.  The kid wants to give up since he thought being a taster was going to be easy, which triggers a dream sequence where the kid inhabits the land of quitters.  In this land, the “What do you mean!?” kid is king.  Then he snaps back to reality and decides to be a taster.

The above has nothing to do with the plot of the series, really, and is beautiful.  The fact that I learned about those taster tests is just a bonus.

This round of the Yakitate 25, the opponent is Meister, Azuma’s mentor from Pantasia.  Meister’s evil father is the one behind the contest, and apparently he is evil because he made himself bread that changed his personality.  So both Meister and Azuma are attempting to make a bread that turns a bad person into a good one.  The fight against Meister is a brutal blow, though.

The father’s dirty tactics include making a bread that is so delicious, you are forced to obey the person that made it.  He gains control of the “What do you mean?!” kid this way.  Why anybody would eat a loaf of bread that looks so much like a brain is beyond me, but there you go.

This volume is relatively serious and pun-free (compared to others), but still sneaks humor in wherever it can.  When they learn the devastating secret behind the delicious mind control bread, it’s from a veterinarian they’ve taken the “What do you mean?!” kid to.  Later, their manager shows up late to the tournament because “there was a misunderstanding” and he had to go to prison for a little bit.  No futher explanation or comment is offered.  Also, the other Yakitate 26 organizer is still a blow-up doll.

I’m just… I love this series.  There are no words to describe its weirdness.  There was more than I knew what to do with when I first started reading it, but now I find that I’m addicted to its “special” brand of humor.  I need bad jokes and constant puns.  I need the characters commenting on how crazy everythign is.  I need bread that looks like a brain because the Japanese name is a bad pun.  I need all this, and I’m going to go back and begin from the beginning.  The thing is, I’m also only a few volumes from the end here, so I know things are way crazier and more insane in the earlier volumes.  I know it’s way better, and I’ll be laughing myself silly if I do go back.  I think I need a little of that right now, honestly.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


5 Comments on “Yakitate!! Japan 23”

  1. [...] Apartments (Comic Attack) Julie Opipari on vol. 2 of St. Dragon Girl (Manga Maniac Cafe) Connie on vol. 23 of Yakitate!! Japan (Slightly Biased Manga) D.M. Evans on vol. 8 of Zombie-Loan (Manga [...]

  2. Ahhh. Your last paragraph was masterful. I love this series, too. It’s a bad one to ride an exercise bike while reading though, because some impossibly convoluted pun or weird hotel or bizarre reaction or something else will happen, and your brain will just freeze for a second in shock, and you’ll stumble on the stair machine or whatever. Sometimes you just need your JaPAN hit, no matter how dangerous it could be. :)

  3. Connie says:

    I feel bad coming so late to the party with this series. Everyone was so excited about it when it first started coming out, but I hardly hear anything about it anymore, though it seems to have maintained its funny pretty well over the course of 20 volumes. If it’s taken a dive in quality at some point, I think I’m in for a real treat when I go back to the early volumes. I can’t imagine it does, though, because even in what I’ve read, there are some bizarre, surreal gags that I think it will be hard to top.

  4. Actually, you may find earlier volumes somewhat tame compared to the delirious heights of the later volumes’ tasting reactions. Somewhat. :) I’m impressed that it’s stayed so funny over such a long time, too. It’s even got some amusing reread power because your brain sort of erases the really awful wordplay in self-defense, so it seems new the second time around.

  5. Connie says:

    Haha, it’s true, this series has the absolute worst word play, but I love it. It’s great that it translated so well into English. I’ll probably have to re-read the volumes I’ve covered once I get all the characters straight, but I kind of like the idea of the humor trying to top itself with every volume.

    Thinking back, I have read some plenty weird stuff that I’ve already partially erased. I forgot the whole trippy Galaxy Express 999 sequence when they had the… Monaco competition. I loved that, and I loved that it happened for no real reason aside from a terrible pun.


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