...with a cartoon superhero made of bread and his eclectic group of friends. And, I’m afraid to say, I think I may have developed something of a merchandise buying habit.
Welcome to the world of Anpanman! Come on in and let me tell you more...
Anpanman is a little guy with a head made of bread stuffed with red bean paste (known as an Anpan in Japan). Besides his An-punch and An-kick moves, his super power is letting people who are weak eat a bit of his head to build up their strength. When his head is almost gone, Uncle Jam the Baker bakes him back to his original strength. So random. So brilliant.
His arch enemy is Baikinman (bacteria man) an anthropomorphic germ with a weakness to soap. Dirt, of course, is the enemy. SO Japanese!
Since its inception in 1973, Anpanman has been collecting characters. I believe there are 1,768 characters in total. Mind boggling. I’ll introduce you to a few of the main players...
First, the ‘goodies’...
With a head made of melon bread, she is a kind friend of Anpanman and my personal favourite. Her super power is called the Melo-Melo punch which is Japanese for ‘totally in love’ and makes bad guys feel woozy with affection.
Also known as ‘the tragic heroine’, Rollpanna is Melonpanna’s big sister and is made from a bread roll. She has two hearts - a good one and an evil one. When she sees Anpanman, her evil heart is triggered (the result of an experiment by another character Dr. Hiyari) but when she sees Melonpanna her good heart is activated. She is a loner who is fearful of being around others in case her bad heart is triggered. Her main weapon is a gymnastics ribbon. Love it.
A handsome chum of Anpanman. His head is made of a slice of white bread and along with his shoulder-punch and shoku-kick he has his shokupanman-go delivery van which holds lots of helpful things to help fight Baikinman.
Only 6 years old with a head made of cream bun. He is immature but courageous and his special power is the Guu-Choki-Punch - in English it would be the ‘rock, paper, scissors’ punch.
His head is filled with hot curry which he uses as a weapon to burn villains. He’s the hot tempered strong man of the group.
And now for some of the baddies...
Baikinman’s partner in crime. Doki means ‘quickly beating heart’ and while she is pretty high maintenance and selfish she definitely has a heart as she has a crush on Shokupanman (remember the handsome guy with the white bread head?).
A skeleton who works for Baikinman but is actually quite an affable sort of chap. He uses his bones as boomerangs but is quite weak and often falls apart. Has a crush on Dokinchan and tends to stalk her a bit. He has a song called "Horrorman Mecha Network Cha Cha", which starts off with a hard rock guitar riff, but then changes into a Jamaican-style music.
Conveniently I have the cover of two young children to hide my obsession behind so there’s always an excuse for more merch. I did start to worry when I found myself trying to subtly influence my daughter’s choice of toy in the gift shop at the Anpanman museum and shopping village (yes this exists. Scream!).
So, alongside the plastic figures, toys, bags, colouring books, branded snacks etc... (you get the picture), we now have a soft cuddly version of Anpanman, Melonpanna, Baikinman, Dokinchan, and Shokupanman. This isn’t bad. However, as a completer finisher type I fear this is an itch that isn’t going to go away.
My rational brain is calmly telling me to be a grown up. Be sensible. Save your money. Stop being ridiculous.
Yet, there is a small and persistent little devil on my shoulder screaming ‘only 1763 to go!!’