So I just finished Sweetness and Lighting (or at least the six episodes available right now) and the experience left me with a yearning to cook rather than continue on with the show. Now I will be the first to admit that slice of life is not my go to genre of anime, and I would even argue that it is my least favorite. The idea of the mundane doesn’t appeal to me when given the unique art style of anime and the possibilities it has. That is not to say I think slice of life is bad by any means, as I find the thing I dislike about it (the mundane) can open up a unique perspective on characters study and can have some pretty hilarious comedy and drama.
So what was I doing watching Sweetness and Lightning then? Well I thought this was a good place for me to start when approaching this genre of anime. Looking back, I should have looked a little harder, as I’m sure veterans could have suggested something more established. Never the less, this was on the docket for currently airing anime, and I liked the premise enough to give it a chance.
Now when I say the premise interested me, that is not to say that it is deep or thought provoking. The premise is pretty simple; a single father (Inuzuka) is left with raising his daughter (Tsumugi) after the death of his wife. Along the way the two run into a restaurant owner’s daughter who agrees to teach them to cook. The trio spends a lot of time learning to cook, and learning how to live (or something like that)
Honestly what bothered me the most about the first episode I watched was the fact that the mother’s face is not even shown. I don’t even think we get a name. This just shows the emotional weight of the premise is completely gone (the wife dying). If we as audience members don’t really see the wife or know anything about her, then it is kind of hard for us to care if the characters feel sad for her.
A lack of emotional depth aside, this show made me feel something I was unfamiliar with, maybe perhaps I had forgotten since it has been so long, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of warmth and pleasantry from watching this. We see Inuzuka learn how to stand on his own as a parent and how it affects Tsumugi while at the same time the two of them are learning new things in the realm of cooking.
And here is where the show shines for me. The cooking was not only an interesting thing to watch, as the trio were pretty inexperienced cooks, but it also gave the viewer a take away from the episode. What these people are cooking are real world recipes like Hamburg steak. Inuzuka and Tsumagi made a special bond through cooking that made this show stand out. It took that idea of the mundane and focused on an aspect that is relatable to everyone; cooking. I am certain that the majority of us are not professional chefs, but everyone cooks at some point in their lives. That link and the honest experiences the cast has while cooking is what made this show pleasant.
It is not as simple as having food and cooking being the main focus, rather it is what the idea of cooking brings as a story telling device and used to shape character. If you want an anime that is just about food watch Food Wars or Toriko, Sweetness and Lightning is about how a father and daughter grew as people because of making meals together. Simple, Relatable and Heartwarming, are the things that come to mind when I think of Sweetness and Lightning.