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Yakitate Japan started running in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2001. In 2004, it won the 49th Shogakukan Manga Award in the boys category. Takashi Hashiguchi also created the softball manga Windmill, which ran from 1998 to 2001 for 11 volumes. He was born in 1967 in Tokyo. In 1987 he won a newcomer prize in Kodansha Young Magazine and debuted in 1988 with the manga Combat Teacher.
Kazuma Azuma, 16, dreams of creating the national bread of Japan. With his "hands of the sun," he works dough into amazing concoctions. As part of Phantasia bakery, Azuma battles rival Kirisaki of St. Pierre bakeries in a nationally televised bread baking competition, Yakitate!! 25. Each round showcases an ingredient unique to a region of Japan. In volumes 19 and 20, the drama heats up as Team Phantasia suspects Kirisaki has been leaked the top secret ingredients and locations. The dynamic writing and clean art work well together. The lessons on Japanese culture and food science are handled crisply, educating the reader while setting up that round's challenge. Food is rendered in mouth-watering detail. The tasting of the breads offers plenty of humor as the judges explode or transform into mythical creatures. Verdict Yakitate!! reads like the great sports manga, Prince of Tennis or Slam Dunk. It is rated 16+ for fantasy violence, mild fan service, and off-color humor. A great read, this is an imaginative way to discover Japanese food culture.-June Shimonishi, Torrance P.L., CA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.