Anpanman

I’ve had a long admiration for the Japanese character Anpanman — who is featured in a new song by Korean popstar boyband BTS entitled “Anpanman.”

Anpanman — yes, that’s a smiley on his chest … waaaaay before emojis were cool.

“(Yanase) never talked down to children or treated them like babies. Even if kids don’t know a word, they still remember it and as they grow up they find out what it means and learn how to use it. He never dumbed it down just because they were children.”

via Makoto Amano / Japan Times

Anpanman was designed for 5-year olds as the core audience in an unwavering manner by its designer, Takashi Yanase. The core character is a talking bun of bread with a human body attached to its bottom. “An-pan” means “red bean” + “bread” (pan) and so Anpanman has a host of friends who are all made out of bread with similarly constructed names.

The best description of Anpanman is over here:

“Anpanman is a superhero who dedicates himself to the cause of justice, aiding the plight of unfortunate souls.

Anpanman will go anywhere to help anyone in trouble, to drive away villains, and to save people from starvation by allowing them to eat his face.

What? Let his face be eaten? No need to worry. His face is made with sweet anpan (bread filled with bean jam), hence the name Anpanman.

Anpanman’s very life depends on allowing others to eat, and once eaten, Anpanman can restore himself endlessly.

He does not look handsome or strong, but he never fears any adventure and is continuously flying to aid the hungry people and the children with difficulties.

Anpanman is the hero of the new age, glowing with friendship, endeavour and justice.”

via TV Time

Yep, you read that boldface part of the passage correctly. He gives pieces of his head to people who need to eat. That’s so cool! But in doing so, he gets weak and needs to fly back to the bakery where he was born to get another head popped onto his body.

My favorite aspect of Anpanman’s superpowers is that he can restore himself endlessly — so it enables him to be generous in ways that my father always embodied.

The Pilot Episode of Anpanman
You can watch his new head getting popped on at 8m:41s.

Anpanman’s approach to managing teams around him has served as my model for how to live and be a manager/leader. Looking back, it’s probably because it’s a servant leader or “YodaBoss” versus “Kyloboss” kind of difference. Keep in mind, though, how it’s important to remember that although both Anpanman and Yoda might look a little wimpy, they’re not. —JM


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