Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.
Yakitate! Japan 1-4
Distributor Viz Media
Author/Artist Takashi Hashiguchi
I had this pushed under my nose as a recommendation, and I'm really quite pleased about it - although this is a series about making bread, it's anything but dull, and I was soon caught up in the world of Kazuma Azuma and his bid to make a bread worthy of the name Ja-Pan!
I should point out that "Pan" is Japanese for bread, so many of the names in this review are puns. For example, the bakery that Kazuma applies to work with is called "Pantasia", a pun that works in more ways than one!
The series works like many other coming-of-age tales which flood the manga market - a clueless youngster ventures forth into the world to discover they know very little, but with a gift of some sort that makes them special. For Kazuma, that gift is the "Hand of the Sun", a condition that gives him warm hands, which are the perfect temperature to aid the fermentation of bread. Okay, it sounds stupid, but in the context of the manga, it works just fine.
The characters within these 4 volumes are all memorable - the main characters are the selfish idiot he's paired up with, Kyosuke Kawachi, and the owners caring and spirited daughter, Tsukino Azusagawa. Together they strive to overcome challenges from rival bakers, the managers and each other - and amazingly it works!
To compliment the fine storytelling, the artwork is crisp, with dynamic angles and some great expressions - all the more exceptional when you realise its all a bunch of people talking about, and baking, bread.
Excellent all round. And surprisingly educational!