Creator: Takashi Hashiguchi
Publisher: Viz
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Comedy
RRP: $9.99
Yakitate!! Japan v5
Reviewed by Michael Aronson

“The drama escalates in the third round of the Pantasia Rookie Tournament when Kazuma’s masked and muscle-bound opponent blows judges away with his animal-theme bread in the shape of a magnificent dragon. Will Kazuma’s contribution, a cute green turtle, be delicious enough to throw the judges into a deadlock? And just how many half-sisters does Tsukino actually have?! Yet another turns up, this one unapologetically evil, and begins to stir up a little mischief!”

Once again, allow me to pay tribute to Iron Wok Jan in the form of a Yakitate Japan review. Tell me, what would you rather read about: cooking that involves bread turtles and bread crabs, or cooking that involves real turtles and real crabs, not to mention sharks, ostriches, and anything else imaginable, bread included? The subject matter itself is crippled from the get-go.

I’m trying to warm up to YJ, I really am. I find the stakes of the characters – their personal losses and need to prove themselves to others through the baking competitions – to be somewhat compelling and a little deeper than the motivations in IWJ. While the judges in YJ seem a little too easily bowled over, their physical reactions to the contestants’ entries are growing on me. The addition of a conniving cheat or two is a bit of a cliché, but it presents more conflict and tension.

But there are a few ingredients still missing from the mix. I’m not sure if the translation fails to capture the excitement and power in the original script, or if the original simply isn’t that interesting to begin with. Either way, the characters need better dialogue and more wild personalities. Maybe I’m saying that because IWJ has no shortage of interesting, aggressive characters, but I really can’t stand Kazuma as a protagonist.

The art seems to be improving with each outing, but it’s still lacking the necessary punch. Once again, IWJ has heavy inks and exaggerated expressions and is never at a loss for detailed illustration. YJ is getting there – the artist is certainly capable of rendering interesting characters and, er, bread, but the presentation could be bolder and more kinetic.

YJ is slowly getting there, but marking its improvement is like watching mold grow.

5 July 2007
Tsubasa v2

4 July 2007
Love*Com v1

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