“Sweetness and Lightning” is 100% sweet with 0% lightning. Kōhei Inuzuka is a single father of Tsumugi and has the cooking capacity of an Idaho potato. Together, we endeavor to fill Tsumugi’s belly with anything other than TV dinners and learn how to cook from a girl who is more skilled at eating than cooking.
Kōhei Inuzuka has such a small personality. If we were making a sauce out of Kōhei’s personality, it would reduce down to calm. Kōhei lost his wife a year ago. He is an aspiring teacher at a high school and would burn water if left unattended. Kōhei is reeling in life since the tragedy and the show follows his attempt to tame not only his daughter’s appetite and hair, but life in general.
There is one character in this show with any personality and it’s Tsumugi Inuzuka. Tsumugi is a kindergarten age girl whose personality is as large as her mane. All of the energy in this show comes from Tsumugi and her appetite reflects this. Pretty much the whole show is driven by Tsumugi’s stomach and her hatred of green peppers. Tsumugi adds the flavor to this show while conveniently adding nothing to the dishes that are made. Child problems, logic, and fun one-liners are a plus, but whiney Tsumugi is a minus.
I have serious problems with Kotori Iida. This girl is some random high school girl who is clearly hot for Kōhei, her teacher, and has major abandonment issues because her mom works so much. The issue starts when Kotori starts to fill the gap left my Tsumigi’s mother and acts like a pseudo-mom. She gets super embarrassed whenever Kotori gives her special attention and I was not here for the illusion of a high schooler being with a grown-ass adult with a child. She was quiet and awkward and the only personality details we are given is that she is a foodie and she hates knives.
The cast was not impressive overall. Warm and approachable? Yes. Memorable? Not likely. 2/6
I can’t say this show hit particularly hard. I’ll mention what I liked about the concept of loss in the ideas section, but the emotion of it really lacked. The show felt like we were cooking one big meal. We didn’t know what it was going to be, but we couldn’t wait to taste it. Every once in a while we sampled it, it tasted okay, and we added some salt or pepper to taste. The meal finishes cooking. We turned the oven off and there was nothing in the pan. This was incredibly unsatisfying. I finished the last episode and was audibly confused that there was not another episode.
The show had its lighter moments which largely surrounded Tsumugi and her antics. I loved when Tsumugi was navigating girls at school not playing with her and when her dad didn’t understand, she said, “All Dad talks about is cooking. He never wants to talk about girls.” Tsumugi is fun, but ultimately, cute only takes you so far. 2/6
For once, we actually get to acknowledge loss. When I say this show does an okay job at showing the pain of losing a loved one and being a single parent, I really mean this show does an okay job at showing the pain felt from losing a loved one and dealing with temper tantrums.
We don’t face the issue head on, but it is clear that Tsumugi is very affected by the loss of her mother. On several occasions, both Kōhei and Tsumugi are forced to confront dishes that bring up memories of their departed mother. It’s not necessarily HOW they bring up the loss, but it’s the idea that they address it at all. It’s all too often that someone dies in an anime, they get brought up later, and kids are like, “Mom? Nani?” It doesn’t make any sense. So props to the writers for incorporating a tough concept.
Being a single parent is hard (I assume). I felt like that side of Kōhei’s life got a lot of attention. However, it’s not as if being a single parent is an original idea. Many parents are gone or dead in anime for reasons completely unexplained, but to highlight what the parent thinks about their child is rare and a fun change of pace. The interaction between Kōhei and Tsumugi was the show’s focus, and that connection was genuine with interactions that were normal compared to the similar relationships we normally see in anime.
While I enjoy these ideas, they don’t carry the show. They are food for thought, but I never felt very full. 3/6
I have twelve cards in my hand. I want you to pick four of them. Have your four? Cool, now throw them away. I will now show you those four cards. Surprise! They are all “Sweetness and Lightning” episodes. You see, it doesn’t actually matter which cards you pick because most of the episodes are pointless and contribute no overarching plot.
I compare this show to Tinder girls who go on a date with me. They keep thinking something cool or fun is going to happen, but really, it’s just me desperately avoiding telling them all I do is cook food and watch anime. Except in this case, I am the girl from Tinder and all the characters in the show do is cook and watch anime.
I can feel the fans of the “slice of life” genre breathing down my neck for that take so it’s time to move on! 1/4
Four words: Tsumugi’s hair is fun. The animation overall is good — obviously professional quality, but lacking in detail or intrigue overall. But Tsumugi’s hair is out of control in all the right ways. Besides just being over the top, Tsumugi’s mane just makes her character’s animation so much fun. They really invested most of the color palette of the show in her and her pink sheep. Overall, a bit underwhelming but good enough. 2/3
This world is perfect… if you are a five-year-old child. We pretty much only see Tsumugi’s home, a hallway in Kōhei’s school, Tsumugi’s daycare, and Kotori’s restaurant. I hate that I just had to list a hallway as a recurring setting. A hallway. Need I say more? 1/3
The music is about as uninteresting as the show. There are lots of light drums, synth keyboards, and flutes. I feel like this music would play inside that one old folks ramen places where the elderly woman behind the counter yells at you when you forget they don’t take credit cards. It’s hard to point to the music and say that it doesn’t add to the mood, but you also can’t point to any one spot and say, “Wow, the music really shone through here.” 1/3
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||2||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||2||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||3||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||1||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||2||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||1||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||1||3|
I would be hard pressed to recommend this show. It just came across as boring to me. I came to the show for a mental and emotional meal and I was only given an appetizer. “Sweetness and Lightning” could easily be a pass unless a calm and cute anime is in the cards for you.