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10 Years' Worth of Anime Bread Commercials Will Make You Hungry

posted on by Eric Stimson
Apologies to the gluten-intolerant

In this writer's opinion, there are few experiences in life as satisfying and memorable as the initial sensation of eating freshly baked European bread. The warmth, the crisp texture, the fresh and natural taste... Evidently Japanese agree, since bakeries are commonplace in Japan and often use European names and motifs. For ten years, the Kyushu-based bakery Francois has used animated commercials to sell its Slow Bread series of all-natural European-style breads, and to celebrate the occasion, it's released a compilation short.

The commercials focus on Cassis, a girl in a rural, picturesque French hill town as she bakes bread and interacts with a kind older boy, Arles. In recent years, she has grown up to age 20 and moved out of town to advance her baking skills in a bigger city. And in the most recent commercial, it's revealed that she's advanced her relationship with Arles, too.

Although the commercials only air in Kyushu, they've gained a national following due to their warmth, sweetness, nostalgia and evocative animation. If they seem like something Studio Ghibli would produce, you're not mistaken: they are animated by Yoshiharu Satō, animation director for My Neighbor Totoro, Only Yesterday, and The Dog of Flanders (not Ghibli but with a similar setting). Akihiko Yamashita, key animator for Spirited Away, The Wind Rises and Evangelion: 2.0 You Can [Not] Advance, does the storyboards. The artists actually went to Provence to research the landscape.

If you'd like to see more, Francois has a webpage collecting them. Here are some highlights:

Cassis stops to enjoy a pure, sparkling stream in a commercial that emphasizes Slow Breads' lack of trans fats.

A chance encounter in Paris sends Arles on a crazy, fantastical pursuit through Escher-style staircases and Ghibli-style skies.

A little girl passing by the bakery spots a sprite that turns out to be levain, a flour-and-water starter needed to make a French sourdough.

On a lighter, fluffier note, this commercial celebrates the joys of melon bread, a crunchy, somewhat sweet loaf native to Japan and capable of making even Shana smile.

Satō has animated another sentimental commercial for something you can get in Kyushu: potato shōchū. If you only like the crunchy skin of melon bread, Yamazaki Baking has you covered.

Sources: Francois and Anime! Anime!: Katsunori Takahashi

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