I feel ashamed of myself now. At first I wasn’t interested in watching this series at all. It took a while to convince myself to finally give this a try. I never regretted watching it from that point on. Even its dullest episodes had enough going to keep me watching it. It’s a cooking show that those of us who can’t cook (raises hand) can related to with an emotionally grounded cast.
Sweetness and Lightning mainly features a cast of three people with two others that take part in their dinner parties from time to time. The main three are Inazuka, a teacher, a new widower, and the father, Tsumugi, the adorable five-year-old of the series who is realistically presented and is highly energetic, and Kotori, the high schooler who loves food and wants to see her family’s restaurant actually functional again. Shinobou, Kotori’s friend whose family runs a restaurant supply shop and has a lot of little kids, and Yagi who owns a bar and spoils Tsumugi when he has the chance, are the secondary characters.
Sweetness and Lightning can easily be described as “real”. The biggest thing that hangs over Inazuka and Tsumugi is the death of their wife/mother. They are still living day to day with the knowledge that their beloved is not coming back hanging behind them. As a person that has lost a lot of family members in the last few years, including an older brother, this is exactly how it works. Eventually you get used to it, but nothing ever fills that gap once it’s gone. On a way more positive note, Tsumugi is a realistic five-year-old. Not only is she adorable, but her tantrums, her energy, the things she likes, and her immaturity are on point. Lastly, the cooking. These aren’t lightning fast chefs like the ones on Food Wars, these are people who can’t cook and are trying their best to learn how. That’s is, nothing complicated.
This is a slice of life series that doesn’t require a high level of art or animation. The character designs are very simple. The backgrounds and sets are designed with enough detail to at least let you know where you are, but the food looks delicious. I feel like most of the budget was centered around Tsumugi and food, which is not a bad thing at all. Animation is good enough to show the viewer knife movements and other close up shots of cooking. Honestly, that’s all Sweetness and Lightning needs. This isn’t Mob Psycho 100, but a simple show were people gather around to eat stuff they just made. It all works incredibly well.
In the end, I highly recommend everybody to watch Sweetness and Lightning. There are some episodes that feel formulaic and safe, but there is more than enough variety and emotional resonance to keep you watching it. I’m also glad that the series didn’t go where I thought it would in the beginning by Kotori and Inazuki having more than a student-teacher relationship. Have no worries, sit down, and watch this show. It’s extremely relaxing. Sweetness and Lighting is only twelve episodes. What do you have to lose?