Sweetness & Lightning Vol. 2 - Manga Review

Cooking with Daddy and Kotori may be fun, but Tsumugi’s latest challenge is to eat her vegetables!

The Lowdown

Widower Kohei is working hard to support his daughter Tsumugi after the death of his wife, and thanks to the help of his student Kotori the three are finding the joys that come with eating and cooking together. Together, they’ve all been able to find a little bit of themselves in their cooking, and Kohei particularly enjoys seeing Tsumugi’s face light up after a great meal. After being given a bunch of produce from family and friend, Kohei faces his biggest challenge yet in trying to conquer Tsumugi’s taste buds to convince her that eating her vegetables can be fun and tasty!

How Was It?

One of the things that made Sweetness & Lightning’s first volume such a pleasure to read was the way that it combined the joy of cooking with the sense of belonging found between Kohei, Tsumugi, and Kotori, and this continues very strongly as this charming story proceeds. I continue to love the way that we get to see a bunch of smaller, self-contained stories which really bring out the fun in their cooking as the three adventure onward. Perhaps my favourite little story in this volume was one where Kohei tries to figure out how to get Tsumugi to eat her veggies after being sent vegetables because of the way that it brought the two of them and Kotori together to try to make something with a distinct purpose in mind. The result is quite heartwarming as they proceed, and I loved the way that we really get the sense of their shared joy at simply sharing a meal successfully. The art also brings out the expressions of joy effectively, and I particularly enjoyed seeing Tsumugi’s huge smiles at the food for the way they really convey both her joy at the food as well as Kotori and Kohei’s pleasure at having pleased her.

A theme that Sweetness & Lightning continues to develop really nicely is that of Kohei’s struggle to cope with being a single-parent for Tsumugi, and this was brought forward in a couple heartfelt scenes in this volume. The first of these scenes shows Kohei attending Tsumugi’s parent day at her school and feeling daunted by trying to measure up to the standards of the other mothers in the class so Tsumugi won’t feel disadvantaged for not having one. We see him going the extra mile to make sure that Tsumugi has a bag that is cute enough for her, and offers to cook her squid that her mother used to make. Naturally Kotori is enlisted to help out, and this turns into another one of the charming cooking sequences described above as the three attempt to get the squid ready. However, this scene is punctuated by a heartfelt moment where the Kohei and Tsumugi agree to revisit the bag after a heartfelt meal, and I thought this was a really interesting look at how Kohei tries to show his own love for his daughter while also being sensitive to her own memories of her mother.

A second scene that fleshed out Kohei’s internal struggle to raise Tsumugi alone follows the two as they head to the summer festival for a fun time. We’ve seen Kohei as being pretty much as perfect a father as possible so far in the series, and I thought it was interesting to see him be put in a more stressful situation after Tsumugi wanders off alone. Although Kohei and Kotori end up finding her relatively quickly, we see Kohei overreact slightly when he yells at Kotori. This was interesting because we see very visibly where this reaction comes from after witnessing him really trying to work his hardest to protect Tsumugi and compensate for her mother not being around. The chapter comes to a resolution as Kotori tries to cheer to two up by cooking for them, and I really liked that this established the level of emotional understanding the three have developed towards each other after a little bit of time together.

While Kohei and Tsumugi’s relationship forms the basis for the majority of Sweetness & Lightning’s stories, we also see the way that Kotori finds her own place in their fun little group. The previous volume established Kotori’s sense of inner loneliness turning into a mixed-up sense of affection towards Kohei separate from her affection for Tsumugi, and this continues to be a subtle thing she deals with in this volume. I liked that this was kept in the background and treated in a nuanced way – Kotori’s confusion at all of these feelings is only shown lightly, but we get a sense of the way that the relationship between the three of them fulfills her in some way. This is tease out really well in a scene where one of her friends gets in on their cooking shenanigans, causing Kotori to feel a little bit sad that her time with Kohei and Tsumugi might not be exclusive anymore. Luckily her friend is a little more perceptive than she expects, and I’ll be interested to see how this the charming time between our three main characters continues to develop.

Final Thoughts

Sweetness & Lightning continues to be a wonderfully charming read that teases out the joy its three main characters feel at simply cooking together, and I definitely enjoyed watching their little journeys throughout as they pursue their next meal. The relationship between Kohei and Tsumugi forms the emotional core of this series in many way, and I really liked the way continued to be developed in tandem with showing Kohei’s struggle to be a good single-parent to Tsumugi. It’s all heartwarming material here, and should definitely continue to appeal to those looking for a feel-good story much like the warm feelings these characters experience in sharing a good meal.


Sweetness and Lightning 2
By Gido Amagakure

Sweetness & Lightning Vol. 2 was translated by Adam Lensenmeyer and published by Kodansha Comics USA on September 27th, 2016. Authored by Gido Amakure, the series is ongoing in Kodansha’s good! Afternoon magazine.

Verdict:

A-

Date of Publication: September 27th, 2016

Translator: Adam Lensenmeyer

Author: Gido Amagakure

Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA




Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka