Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
Before I start writing about ‘Sweetness & Lightning(Amaama to Inazuma)’, you have to excuse me while I find a pack of tissues to wipe the tears of my eyes and my keyboard. To borrow the words of Iita-chan, one of the main characters of the series:
“I am not crying because I am sad, or lonely. I am crying because the food is so good”.
Well, I am crying because this first episode was so good. This anime is called ‘Sweetness and Lightning’ for all the right reasons.
Japanese Title: 甘々と稲妻 EP01: 制服とどなべごはん
— アニメ「甘々と稲妻」公式 (@amaama_anime) July 5, 2016
Kôhei Inuzuka is a high school teacher (sensei – せんせい（先生）) and a single parent. After the death of his wife half a year ago, he’s tasked with taking care of his daughter, Tsumugi-chan, who still goes to kindergarten.
Juggling between work and parenting is hard. Kôhei-san’s good and kind nature allows them to live a simple but enjoyable life, if you count out his inability to cook a decent meal.
Since Kôhei Inuzuka’s wife died six months ago, he relied on pre-cooked meals and frozen ingredients to feed his kindergarten daughter Tsumugi. He is trying to be the best father he could possibly be, but Inuzuka sensei’s cooking skills are nonexistent. The first, and only, time he tried to cook for Tsumugi, her expression of disgust was the proof he wanted that cooking wasn’t among his talents.
Because of his working hours, father and daughter don’t even share dinner on the same table; Kôhei has to work while Tsumugi watches her favorite show, Magi-Girl. Tsumugi though is not the complaining type.
Until one day, on a walk through on a sakura-bloomed park, they run into a girl crying while eating onigiri. She was supposed to meet her mother, but that’s not the reason she is crying: it’s just that the food is soooooo good. The moment was life-changing for little Tsumugi who asks her father to write a letter to her mother to cook them a delicious meal. Obviously, Kôhei-san has made up a “your mother has gone on a trip” story to shield her from the truth.
Kôhei-san, shocked by the incident, takes his daughter to the restaurant owned by the girl in the park, where he makes a promise to his daughter that he will learn how to cook and always share the dinner table with her.
It’s not difficult to identify the main themes of the series by the end of this episode.
In a very touching scene, Tsumugi is watching a cooking show while she asks of her father to write a letter to his late wife and Tsumugi’s mother to cook for them. It’s the moment of no return for our protagonists, as Kôhei-san realizes that he is the one responsible for Tsumugi’s happiness.
Cooking and Parenting: The struggles of a single parent to manage life and work. Thank Anime that his child is an adorable little cute chibi who doesn’t make things more difficult for her father.
The most daring accomplishment of this premiere is that it managed to bring a fresh perspective to the already established genre of “here is a single parent taking care of his adorable child”. We’ve seen that so many times and most of the series are good. They feed on our need for realism and struggle. ‘Yotsuba’, ‘Barakamon’, ‘Usagi Drop’; the core of the anime may be the same, but it manages to deliver a sensation of sweetness that is much needed in our everyday lives.
There is an undercurrent of sadness hovering through the whole episode. Kôhei-san is recently widowed, Tsumugi-chan tries to cope with their situation in a most adoring, innocent, and exciting way, and Iida-kun acts as a kind of Deus-Ex-Machina to bring the family back on track.
Tsumugi’s appeal is brought to life through some amazing and vivid animation (the show is directed by Tarou Iwasaki) and incredible voice acting handled by Rina Endo, born in 2005. Rina-chan’s is a child voice-actress and her age provides a much-needed realism to the character. Add Tsumugi’s carefree attitude and you could mistake her for a real-life child.
The music is written by Nobuko Toda. The opening theme is Harebare Fanfare by MimimemeMIMI and the closing theme is “Maybe” by Brian the Sun.
If you are watching just one show this season, this must be it.
It was a perfect premiere for ‘Sweetness & Lightning(Amaama to Inazuma)’. I laughed and cried and sniffed and giggled throughout the whole episode. I was carried away by its realism, its lack of unnecessary scenes, and its adorable cooking sequences.
Based on the manga “sweetness & lightning” by Gido Amagakure originally serialized in the monthly GOOD! AFTERNOON magazine published by KODANSHA Ltd.
Anime official site : http://www.amaama.jp/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/amaama_anime