My hero, Anpanman!
Anpanman fighting Baikinman
I want to introduce you to a superhero and cartoon that I have grown quite fond of here in Japan. His name is Anpanman, which basically translates to BreadMan in English. You see him everywhere here. Kids run around with Anpanman tricycles. His image is printed on clothing. There are pictures of him on the side of traincars. He has his own museum. I've even seen Anpanman diapers and shampoo. I am the proud owner of Anpanman tissues, plus I have my own Anpanman figures too.
So, what's so special about Anpanman? His head is made of bread filled with red-bean paste, and he loses his powers if his head gets damaged. However, his baker dad can bake him a new head and Anpanman regains all his strength. Plus, if he comes across someone who is hungry, he lets them eat part of his head! Now, I know there are many superheroes who can do amazing things, but Anpanman can help the hungry! That's a really cool thing in my book.
Anpanman isn't alone in his quest for justice. There's a bunch of other characters who have similar food-related ties, included Shokupanman, whose head is made of sliced bread. And Currypanman, whose bread head is filled with curry.
You can't have a superhero without villains, and Anpanman's main enemy is Baikinman, or GermMan. He wants to destroy Anpanman with bacteria. His weakness is soap, and he has evil helpers called Kabirunrun who can rot Anpanman's head with mold.
If you want to know more about Anpanman, there are lot of people on the internet with websites devoted to him. There is some basic information on Wikpedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anpanman There is also a Japanese website, but of course it's all in Japanese: http://www.ntv.co.jp/anpanman/
At Christmas, we were channel surfing and came across an Anpanman special. It was all in Japanese, but the main storyline was that Baikinman was stealing yarn so that he could make a giant Christmas stocking and steal all the Christmas toys. There was a yarn superhero who used his knitting needles as weapons. I've been trying to find more information on it, but I'm not having any luck. I'll let you know if I do. :-)