Nov 4, 2013

An-pan-man or “Bean-bread-man”: Japan’s Edible Superhero

An = bean paste; Pan= bread or pastry

Most superhero’s risk their own safety to protect others and save the world, but Japan’s longstanding, animated super hero “Anpanman” rescues hungry people by giving them a bite off his face and reciprocates their pain! One of the cutest superhero’s ever, Anapanman is every Japanese preschooler’s best buddy! This lovable and extremely adorable, animated character was created by Takashi Yanase, who passed away on Oct. 13th 2013, at the age of 94. 
Takashi Yanase
On a serious note, Anpanman is not your typical superhero. Rather than being cool, fighting enemies and saving the world, he relieves hunger and approaches his enemies with kindness. Apparently, his creator, Mr. Yanase was also a very kind man who brought people together. It is said that he came up with the idea of creating Anpanman, while he was serving as a soldier in the army and went without food for many days. While his hunger made him yearn for bread, he realized how a hero’s job was not only saving lives but also to relieve starvation, and by afflicting pain upon oneself, was a way to share the victim’s sorrow. Thus, he created Anpanman, who lets hungry people feed on his face and with every bite they take off him, he becomes weaker and weaker. Of course, once the day is saved, a new “anpan-head” is freshly baked and replaced on our little hero's shoulders, and he is ready to go again! 

In the animation, Anpanman can fly and give a strong “an- punch” to his main enemy “Bai-kin-man” ( baikin = germ) and his aide, a cute, cat-like character called “do-kin-chan”.
Anpanman and Baikinman on Halloween
The main theme of the Anpanman show is 'food', and children are glued to the TV every morning when the show starts. As with all popular animated characters, the Anpanman characters are heavily merchandized in Japan, and every toy shop devotes a corner to Anpanman to commercialize their popularity! Products range from books, DVDs, video games, toys, snacks, lunchboxes, blankets and even diapers!
Anpanman Diapers
Anpanman Goods
Anpanman Toys
There are quite a few Anpanman museums spread across Japan, the oldest one in Mr. Yanase’s hometown Kochi, Shikoku island and and the newest in Kobe, which opened on April 19th , 2013. 

Through his self-sacrificing hero Anpanman, Mr. Yanase created a world of love and compassion for young children, and his legacy will live on for many years to come.   


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