Anime at a Glance: Sweetness and Lightning

Waking up from her cozy bed Tsumugi stumbles over to her father, Kouhei, who fell asleep at the desk grading his student’s quizzes the night before. As they get up in the morning, he prepares some quick microwave meals for her lunchbox, not finding some of the mini tomatoes in the fridge he makes due with some other snacks. He drops off Tsumugi at her Kindergarten and heads straight to work to finish some of the work from the previous night. A fellow co-worker barges in and tries to get him to come out for some drinks and food that night, only for Kouhei to politely turn him away and head to his first period class. He has to watch over his daughter and can’t exactly spare the time to go out drinking at a bar. It had only been 6 months since his wife passed away after all, he needs time to find out how he can take care of Tsumugi without her around any more.

The next day they visit a park where cherry blossoms are in bloom and the leaves are falling everywhere, taking in the sight. Tsumugi sees a teenage girl crying in the park eating some rice balls and wants to go find out what is wrong. “I was supposed to meet my mother here and she had cooked the food for the trip, but she hasn’t shown up. At first I was mad, then as I began to eat, I enjoyed her food and became happy and began to cry.” Tsumugi asked how good the food was and begins to drool as she explains that it was great, but she ate all of it has none to share with Tsumugi. Instead she offers a business card for her mother’s shop and mentions to stop by some time to have a good meal.

The next day as a meeting has run late, he’s on the phone with his babysitter to explain he’s heading home immediately and will be there to take care of Tsumugi, only to find her face pressed against the television screen watching a cooking show making a delicious dish of food. Realizing that she is craving more than just store bought lunches he rushes out with her to the restaurant where the previous girl’s mother works.

Unfortunately, her mother turns out to not be home but the girl offers to still cook for them anyway. After looking at her uniform, he realizes that she is a student named Iida Kotori. After a brief setback, she successfully cooks a very tasty batch of rice. After the first bite, Tsumugi looks wide-eyed at her father and exclaims “It’s super good!” Happy to finally see his daughter enjoying her meal so much he begins to tear up and remembers that his wife used to pour her soul into cooking for them before she passed, simply because she loved them both so much. He promises Tsumugi that he’ll try to make tasty food like this from now on. After hearing this, Kotori asks him to come back and have dinner with her again.

After reading the initial description of the show my first impression was that it would mostly just be about a dad learning to cook. I’d say that it gives much more than that as it’s more about a father who is trying to take care of his daughter and is trying to make life fun for her after the loss of her mother. He doesn’t really seem to know much about how to take care of her as the first couple episodes have implied that he probably was the one going to work every day while she stayed home to take care of Tsumugi. After seeing that she doesn’t finish most of her meals at home he didn’t know what to do to make his daughter really happy when it came to food.

The characters in the show themselves feel like they would represent a real family as well. Tsumugi is young and carefree, easily excited by her favorite shows and seeing the cherry blossoms falling in the park. Kouhei is trying to do what he can after now having to do so much more to fit his work life around caring for his daughter too, and he seems genuinely moved when he can see how happy she is eating a good meal for the first time in awhile.

Not a lot of shows can be a simple slice of life and still deliver such a great story from my experience, and I’m glad to see that such a simple show is starting out so strong this season. It’s coming from TMS Entertainment, which has a fairly strong record of producing shows, and is behind many of the current 2016 show line-up. Check out Sweetness and Lightning over on Crunchyroll.


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