Anpanman (アンパンマン) is a Japanese picture book series written by Takashi Yanase since 1973. The anime adaptation Soreike! Anpanman (それいけ!アンパンマン, Let’s Go! Anpanman) is one of the most popular anime series amongst young children in Japan. The show has been on the air in Japan continuously since October 1988. On October 4, 1996 (Episode 398) the show changed its time slot from Monday to Friday. On November 10, 2000 (Episode 588) the show was made with digital editing. On August 28, 2009 the show had aired 1000 episodes. Since April 2, 2010(Episode 1029) the show started airing in High Definition. As of 2011, the titular Anpanman is the most popular fictional character among people age 0 to 12 years in Japan in 10 consecutive years, according to 2chan the show was originally going to premiere in 1987 and it was originally going to end with 24 episodes, according to research by Bandai. Although the series is popular in its country of origin, the franchise is not well known outside of Japan.
Heavily merchandised, the Anpanman characters appear on virtually every imaginable children’s product, from clothes to video games to toys to snack foods. The Anpanman books have collectively sold over 50 million copies in Japan.
Many times during the Second World War, Yanase became faced with the prospect of starvation, which made him dream about eating anpan (a bean-jam filled pastry).
This inspired the creation of the Anpanman character.
Kōichi Yamadera and Mika Kanai, the voice actors for Cheese and Melonpanna respectively, are married. This is also translated in a way to the cartoon as Cheese spends most of his time in Melonpanna’s company in the episodes she’s in. Yamadera also does voices for recurring characters in the show, such as Kamameshidon. They divorced in Spring of 2006.
The series spawned a short lived spin-off show featuring one of the more popular recurring characters on the show, Omusubiman.
In each episode, Anpanman fights with Baikinman and helps the people of the town. He always goes on patrol in the area around the house of Uncle Jam. He is a symbol of justice, fighting for the cause of justice every day. Anpanman has a long history and new characters are frequently introduced, keeping the series fresh. In 2009, Anpanman was verified as a Guinness World Record Holder for the highest number of characters in an animated franchise; as of March 27, 1,768 characters have appeared in the first 980 episodes of the TV series and the first 20 Anpanman films.
- Anpanman (アンパンマン Anpanman)
- Voiced by: Keiko Toda
- The main character of the anime, whose head is a bun made by Uncle Jam. His name comes from the fact that he is a man with a head made of bread (Japanese: pan, a loanword from the Portuguese word meaning “bread”) that is filled with red bean paste (Japanese: an) called an anpan. The rhythm of the rhyming name might be loosely idiomatically translated in English as “Bean Bun Boy”. He doesn’t need to eat or drink to sustain himself and has never been seen eating, as it is believed the bean jam in his head allows him to sustain himself in this manner. His weaknesses are water and anything else that makes his head dirty (In order to prevent his head getting wet when underwater or in wet weather, he is usually seen with his head concealed inside a protective bubble in such situations). He regains his health and strength when Jam Ojisan bakes him a new head and it is placed on his shoulders. Anpanman’s damaged head, with Xs in his eyes, flies off his shoulders once a new baked head is made for him by Uncle Jam. Anpanman came to life when shooting star landed in Uncle Jam’s oven while he was baking. He has two special attacks: An-punch and An-kick (with stronger variations of both). When Anpanman comes across a starving creature or person, he lets the unfortunate creature or person eat part of his head. He also has super hearing in that he can respond to anyone that calls his name out in distress from anywhere in the world.
- Uncle Jam (ジャムおじさん Jam Ojisan)
- Voiced by: Hiroshi Masuoka
- The creator of Anpanman, and a very kind baker. A skilled cook with knowledge of nearly everything in the world.
- Batako-san (バタコさん Batako-san)
- Voiced by: Rei Sakuma
- Assistant to Uncle Jam. She’s dedicated and hard working, but is prone to forgetting things. Her Japanese name means “Butter Girl”. She makes and mends the capes Anpanman and the other heroes use to fly with.
- Cheese (チーズ Chiizu)
- Voiced by: Koichi Yamadera
- A dog that lives in Uncle Jam’s bakery. He became a loyal friend after Anpanman saved his life in the manga. In the anime, a young Anpanman feeds Cheese, who is starving, a part of his head as a part of his very first patrol and became inseparable afterwards. Cheese tends be an effective sidekick when he’s around.
- Currypanman (カレーパンマン Currypanman)
- Voiced by: Michiyo Yanagisawa
- Another of Anpanman’s friends. His head is made from currypan, a pastry filled with red-hot curry. He is quick tempered and hot-headed on the surface, but gives way to a kind and sentimental interior. Tends to be the strongman of the trio. Wields the Curry-punch and Curry-kick, which are similar to the fighting techniques of Anpanman’s other sidekicks. However, he can also use the hot curry concealed in his head as a weapon, using it to burn villains. He first appeared in episode 2b.
- Shokupanman (しょくぱんまん Shokupanman)
- Voiced by: Sumi Shimamoto
- A friend of Anpanman. His head is made from sliced white bread (Japanese: shoku pan). He is handsome and level-headed and kind, but narcissistic. Tends to be the thinker of the trio. His job when not helping Anpanman is serving lunch to the schoolchildren. Dokin-chan has a crush on him. Wields the Shoku-punch and Shoku-kick, which are similar to Anpanman’s fighting techniques. He also has a multi-functional delivery van known as the Shokupanman-go with many implements to help avoid trouble. He first appeared in episode 3b.
- Melonpanna (メロンパンナ Meronpanna)
- Voiced by: Mika Kanai
- Anpanman’s friend. Her head is made from melon bread. She is extremely softhearted, being caring and sensitive, and is sometimes clever. When she’s in trouble, she usually needs Anpanman or somebody else to save her, or if there is no one available, she calls out for her sister, Rollpanna. Sometimes she likes hanging out with Cheese. Her special attack, the Melo-Melo Punch, makes bad guys woozy with affection or awakens others from deep sleep. She first appeared in episode 200.
- Rollpanna (ロールパンナ Rollpanna)
- Voiced by: Mina Tominaga
- Melonpanna’s older sister who has two hearts: A red one of goodness, and thanks to Baikinman, a blue one of evil. The sight of Anpanman can trigger her evil heart while the sight of Melonpanna can trigger her good one. She started out in the series as a loner at Baikinman’s beck and call, but she broke from his power and wanders the world doing good deeds, but stays away from others for fear of what she would do if her black heart is triggered. Her nickname is “The tragic heroine”. Uses a gymnastics ribbon as her main weapon. She can use it to wrap up her enemies or cause tornadoes. She first appeared in episode 300.
- Creampanda (クリームパンダ Creampanda)
- Voiced by: Miki Nagasawa
- The youngest of Anpanman’s friends and the foster brother of Melonpanna and Rollpanna. He is 6 years old. His is head made from a cream bun and his eyes that looks like those of a panda’s. Despite his immaturity and relative weakness as compared to Anpanman and his hero friends, he is courageous, protective of his friends, and has a “never give up” attitude. He has a immature character causes him to sometimes get into petty squabbles and competitions of one-upsmanship with the other younger characters on the show. Because his head resembles a hand, he has a special headbutt attack called the “Guu-Choki-Punch” (Guu-Choki-Pa means Rock, Scissors, Paper in Japanese). Relatively powerful when it connects, it fails to connect more often than not. He first appeared in episode 469.
- Baikinman (ばいきんまん Baikinman)
- Voiced by: Ryusei Nakao
- The villain from the “Germ Planet” and is the leader of the Viruses. His Japanese name means “Bacteria Man”. His ambition is to destroy Anpanman and spread bacteria all over the latter’s world, yet he is perfectly content to play tricks, steal, and bully those weaker than him. He and Anpanman were born at the same time, making them physical representations of moral dualism. He has a weakness to soap, which shrinks him to the size of a fly. He constructs machines and thinks of intricate plans to counteract Anpanman’s strength. His two famous phrases are signature cackle, “Ha-hee-hoo-hey-hoo!”; and “Bye-baikiiin!”, which he utters out whenever he’s sent flying by Anpanman or another character.
- Moldyrunrun (かびるんるん Kabirunrun)
- Baikinman’s henchmen. They have the ability to rot Anpanman’s head with mildew/mold (Japanese: kabi). They first appeared in episode 2a.
- Dokin-chan (ドキンちゃん)
- Voiced by: Hiromi Tsuru
- Baikinman’s female partner in crime. She is selfish, demanding, childish, and greedy, but sometimes shows kindness. She has a crush on Shokupanman. Her Japanese name is a combination of “Doki”, the Japanese onomatopoeia for a quickly beating heart, “baikin” (meaning “germ”, also the case for Baikinman), and the diminutive/affectionate suffix “-chan”. She first appeared in episode 13a.
- Horrorman (ホラーマン Horrorman)
- Voiced by: Kaneta Kimotsuki
- A skeleton who often works with Baikinman and Dokin-chan. Although he seems scary on the outside, he is very weak and often falls to pieces, and can magically put the pieces back. He is neither a hero nor a villain. His special attack is the Bone Boomerang, where he takes off one of his bones and throws it. He is also in love with Dokin-chan and often stalks her. He first appeared in Fly! Fly! Chibigon.
After the events of 3/11
A volunteer worker helping out in some of the worse areas affected in the Northen area of Japan started singing the Anpanman theme song to brighten the spirits of his fellow helpers and has become a tradition ever since!