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Takashi Hashiguchi was the recipient of Young Magazine Gekkan Shinjinsho (Newcomer's Award) in 1987 from Kodansha and received an honorable mention for the Tetsuya Chiba Award. He made his debut in 1988 with Combat Teacher. Hashiguchi says that for a time he tried his hand at being a comedian, but differences with his partner led him to return to manga. His major works include Street Fighter II Bakusho Yon-koma Gag Gaiden (Street Fighter II Hilarious 4-panel Gag Outside Story), Chosoku Spinner (High Speed Spinner), Windmill, Scissors, and Yakitate!! Japan. His most recent series, Saijo no Meii (The Ultimate Great Doctor) is currently serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday.
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.