Anpanman Character Reviews:
Last time, we talked about Anpanman's younger(?) brother(?) Currypanman, but it's really not often that Currypanman operates all alone, and less often still that we only see Currypanman and Anpanman together. Much more frequently, the Spiciest Man shows up alongside the Least Spicy Man, Shokupanman, and if you think he looks like nothing but a slice of Wonder Bread, you're basically right. Shokupan is treated like a sweet treat in Japan, but it is literally identical to what Americans consider ordinary, plain white sandwich bread, because what America considers "plain" bread is actually sweetened quite a bit compared to every other country's interpretation of the concept. By anybody else's standards, we make our sandwiches out of cake.
That's not to say shokupan is some decadent indulgence, of course. It's still only mildly sweet even to Japan's palate, and generally used for sandwiches and toast just like it is over here. I guess they just think it's a little more special than we do, and that's kind of Shokupanman in a nutshell; he's a little special. He's neither as sweet as Anpanman or savory as Currypanman, either in the literal sense or as a person, though he sure is ALL about his white bread, constantly using it as a point of reference for anything good in the world. Anything or anyone he likes, he goes off on a romantic little tangent about how they're as cool or amazing or beautiful as...white bread. Gee, thanks.
Despite being able to fly, Shokupanman typically travels in his Shokupanmonbile, which he uses to deliver his own hand-made Shokupan all around town. Yep, unlike either Currypanman or Anpanman, Shokupanman actually makes his own bread, the normal person way, like from ingredients he just got at a store somewhere instead of from his body fluids or anything. I guess he's too good to feed anyone his own face, or maybe that's just a little too personal for his comfort. That's obviously for his wedding night, thank you very much.
The Shokupanmobile also used to be an ordinary truck cheaply painted to look like a loaf of bread, but when he drove it off a cliff one too many times, a pair of mechanic sisters built him an "indestructible" new truck he could drive off cliffs to his heart's content. Really, it keeps happening. There are some episodes where he drives off a cliff more than once, like someone on the writing crew must think that's one of the funniest possible things to keep doing to this guy, which is a thing they are correct about.
As far as a personal life goes, Shokupanman seems to be a big hit with the local schoolchildren, delivering them bread each and every day before lunch and sometimes even paying them an extended visit. In the process, he seems to have developed a close friendship with the bunny teacher Mimisensei (literally "Miss Ears"). On Shokupanman's end, this seems to be strictly platonic, but it feels like Mimi is the one who keeps suggesting these little hangouts.
In fact, despite how tepid he is, Shokupanman is one of the only bread people that any other characters consistently fall in love with, and "handsomeness" is treated as one of his defining characteristics. This is most overt with the quasi-villain, Dokinchan, who takes this to unhealthy extremes up to and including brainwashing and kidnapping him. It's happened enough that in a show with literally thousands of characters, Shokupanman almost surely holds the record for number of times he's been captured and tied to a chair. The more I think about him, the more I feel sorry for him, and the more I feel sorry for him, the more I like him. He's "boring" by definition, but that's just what makes him funny.
Whether or not Shokupanman was created by Uncle Jam has never been addressed in the series, so whether Shokupanman, Currypanman and Anpanman are actually brothers is open to headcanon, but the original comic was certainly up front about it and they certainly spend an awful lot of time together, so I think it's still pretty safe to assume that he's another one of Jam's affronts to nature. It also doesn't come up too often, but Shokupanman has a home of his own and it is a mountain shaped like a toaster.
Next time, we look at a pair of bread people together, and after that, the rather unfortunate sixth member of this family. Yes, more unfortunate than even Currypanman.