Yakitate!! Ja-pan (焼きたて!! ジャぱん?, meaning "Freshly Baked!! Ja-pan", the "pan" also meaning "bread" in Japanese) is a manga, authored by Takashi Hashiguchi. The manga has spanned 25 tankōbon volumes, as of January, 2007.The anime series was broadcast on TV Tokyo and other local stations from October 2004 to March 2006 with a total of 69 episodes. The manga series is licensed by VIZ Media.
Duration: Episodes 1-29
This is the initial arc where Azuma goes to the Pantasia Main Branch Store expecting to get a job only to discover that he has to compete for it in a series of exams. Azuma also starts at a disadvantage as he loses almost all of the ten points he needs to avoid being disqualified (5 points for being late, 2 points for messy hair and 2 points for calling Kuroyanagi an old man). It is in this arc that Azuma meets Kyosuke Kawachi, Kuroyanagi Ryo, Tsukino Azusagawa and Kai Suwabara. Shortly after the competition, Azuma and Kawachi get jobs at Pantasia's Southern Tokyo Branch store. A few stories take place there as they meet Ken Matsushiro and Azuma competes against a skilled but pampered baker named Mokoyama.
Azuma and Kawachi gets a letter wherein they can compete in a battle and if they win they get a spot in the main branch and also a trip to France for a training camp where they can hone their skills. Here they meet different bakers and with this battle also comes with another hidden agenda wherein the Azusagawa Family fights for the right to be the owner of the Pantasia bakery chain. As the tournament was finished they have another battle on their hands.
Duration: Episodes 30-53
Azuma, Kawachi and Suwabara travel to Monaco to take part in an international bread competition which will determine the fate of the Pantasia franchise. There they meet Pierrot Bolneze, the clown judge, as well as the lion-headed King of Monaco who is holding the competition. However, Yuuchi Kirisaki, owner of Pantasia's rival bakery chain St. Pierre, is bribing judges and pulling out all the stops to win, including trying to kill Team Japan (Azuma, Kawachi and Suwabara) on more than one occasion. There is also a subplot about Pierrot, who is an orphan looking for his true family.
Yakitate!! 25 in the manga and Yakitate!! 9 in the TV anime.
Duration: Episodes 54-69
Yuuchi Kirisaki has challenged Pantasia to a final bread-making competition in the form of an Othello-like game for the fate of Pantasia. The Pantasia gang composed of Azuma, Kawachi and Kanmuri meet new opponents called the CMAP (a spoof of popular J-pop band SMAP) as well as a rematch with an old rival. There are ups and downs in the matches, and the Southern Tokyo Branch face a number of matches, including CMAP's other members. Other Opponents were Suwabara and Monica, Mokoyama Tsuyoshi, Yukino Azusagawa and Meister Kirisaki.