Anpanman is a popular cartoon character in Japan, particularly among the age range that spans from the diaper-wearing to the not-quite-interested-in-the-opposite-sex-yet-but-starting-to-get-curious set. Anpanman is sort of like the Japanese version of Superman... if Superman's head was made out of a bun filled with sweetened beans which was replaceable with a new bun any time it got wet or dirty. He fights against evil (mainly germs) though considering that water and dirt are his version of Kryptonite, I'd think evil could easily get the best of him with a squirt gun or a bucket of mud. Given the Japanese obsession with food, it seems very appropriate that a superhero is made of a traditional foodstuff.
I think his greatest strength lies in his power to act as a corporate shill and convenient icon to place on toys, clothes, and other products in order to get kids to compel their parents to buy them Anpanman-themed goods. In fact, if he used this power wisely, he could wipe out all the germs in the world by asking his legions of little followers to whine until their mommies scrubbed every dirty surface spotlessly clean.
All hail Anpanman and kneel in supplication and he shall reward you with clean domiciles and fresh, tasty, wholesome bean cakes!
On New Year's day, my husband and I stumbled across this idol erected for the tiny worshipers of Anpanman attached to a fire escape. It is conveniently placed at a height at which his followers are forced to look up at him but can easily see him without craning their necks as they kneel before him. Since this Anpanman church was closed due to the national holiday (and I'm certain they didn't want to be disrespectful and draw all the foot traffic away from the nearby Shinto shrine... as it surely would have had folks been allowed to stand at the feet of this brightly-colored Anpanman idol), we didn't witness any followers paying homage to him on the day the picture was taken. However, I'm pretty sure that his followers bow and face his statue several times a day in humble supplication.
(Note: Tongue has been firmly in cheek here.)