Sweetness & Lightning Vol. 1 - Manga Review

Widowed math-teacher Kouhei Inuzuka is doing his best to raise his young daughter Tsugumi, and with the help of one of his students he’s about to cook up a storm!

The Lowdown

Kouhei Inuzuka teaches math by day at the local high-school and takes care of his young daughter Tsugumi as a single father by night. Kouhei isn’t good at cooking, and ever since the death of his wife the majority of what he and Tsumugi have been eating have been supermarket pre-packed meals. Tsumugi craves something more tasty made by her daddy, and after a chance meeting with one of Kouhei’s students, Kotori Iida, he decides to become better at cooking for Tsumugi. As luck would have it, Kotori’s family owns a restaurant, and together the three of them begin a tasty adventure in cooking up a series of delicious meals!

How Was It?

Sweetness & Lightning is another series in the line of “single-father raising child” series such as Bunny Drop, and what make these series so special is the way that they focus on the little but incredibly joyful moments to create a heartwarming story. This is certainly the case in Sweetness & Lightning, and what this series does at its core is convey Kouhei’s love for his daughter through his pure satisfaction at watching her joyful eating of delicious food. The premise of a single father bonding with a high-school student and his daughter works very well here, and it’s hard not to cheer for Kouhei as he makes incredible efforts to get a dish just right for Tsumugi.

Sweetness & Lightning is told in a breezy series of episodes which see Kouhei, Kotori, and Tsumugi having various adventures that aren’t strictly connected, but they each build upon the burgeoning emotions bonds between the three as they cook together. It ends up being more about the journey rather than the destination, but what Sweetness & Lightning does so well is convey the little moments of joy that the three experience as part of the cooking process. It was incredibly fun to watch them work together to create these meals, and these scenes worked very well in linking in to the various ongoing situations such as cheering Tsumugi up, or simply trying to have a picnic. There’s an infectiously cheery feel infused throughout, and this overall joy experienced by all of the characters as they have their own unique cooking triumphs was wonderful to see.

Sweetness & Lightning does a great job incorporating the emotions of its characters into the story effectively. As mentioned above, Kouhei’s desire to please Tsumugi is the emotional core of this series, and I really enjoyed seeing his perseverance in trying to get better at cooking for his daughter. Kotori’s emotions were also explored satisfyingly in this volume as we see her become attached to Kouhei and Tsumugi to fill a certain loneliness within her. I found her burgeoning interest in the two to be quite entertaining to watch, and I liked seeing the mutual effect that Kotori and the pair each had on each other as they began cooking. I also enjoyed the way her attachment was shown growing progressively towards the end of the volume, and this raised some interesting questions for the future about her relationship with the two of them that I am fascinated to see continued.

The art of Sweetness & Lightning Vol. 1 has a light touch which complements the sense of heart this story has very well. Characters are drawn with a satisfyingly expressive touch, and this was exemplified in several scenes which saw Kouhei looking at Tsumugi with his care for her clearly expressed in his facial expression and eyes. Tsumugi’s depiction is also a highlight because of the way that her pure joy at taking the first bite of a delicious meal is shown. This was great in terms of underscoring the emotional impact of these adventures for both Kouhei and Kotori, and I really liked the way it emphasized the importance of these small moments as the real reward of this series.

Final Thoughts

Sweetness & Lightning Vol. 1 tells a remarkably heartwarming story of family and cooking which I found thoroughly heartening to read. Although those in need of a really solid plot may find this series a little bit on the understated side, I was drawn in by the focus on the emotions of these characters as they were brought out through their cooking adventures. For those looking for the charming story of a father and a daughter, or one between a lonely girl finding a type of family of her own, Sweetness & Lightning’s debut will be sure to please.


Sweetness and Lightning 1
By Gido Amagakure

Sweetness & Lightning Vol. 1 was translated by Adam Lensenmeyer and published by Kodansha Comics USA on July 26th, 2016. Authored by Gido Amakure, the series is ongoing in Kodansha’s good! Afternoon. Volume 2 will be released in English on September 13th 2016.

Verdict:

A-

Date of Publication: July 26th, 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