Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > Sweetness and Lightning, Vols. 1 + 2

Sweetness and Lightning, Vols. 1 + 2

Sweetness and Lightning, Vol. 1Sweetness and Lightning, Vols. 1 + 2
By Gido Amagakure, Translation by Adam Lensenmayer
Kodansha Comics, 192 pp.
Rating: T (13+)

Following the death of his wife, and attempting to juggle his teaching job with raising Tsumugi, his daughter, Kohei’s cooking fell off as he relied on pre-packaged meals and take out food. With the help of a student of his, Kotori, that begins to change. Together, the three find happiness and friendship through the art of cooking. From Gido Amagakure comes the heart warming, Sweetness and Lightning, Vols. 1 + 2!

There’s been a spate of food series in recent years, and while they do have an audience, I’m usually not among them. Sweetness and Lightning’s clearly attempting to play upon the readers nostalgia for things like family dinners and cooking at your mothers side. The scenes of Kohei, Kotori and Tsumugi hard at work are amusing and cute at first, but after a while they all begin to feel repetitive and blur together. If you have fond memories of cooking at the side of a beloved relative, this will likely press your buttons and really appeal to you, but if you have no great emotional attachment to food or cooking, it’s hard to imagine how it could hold ones attention.

The only real tension or conflict comes from Kotori’s conflicting emotions towards Kohei. There’s the barest of teases that she might be falling for her teacher, but her own lack of a stable family suggests that she’s simply feeling the love and warmth that comes from being part of a family. It’s also so rarely brought up that it’s easy to forget this thread is even present amongst all the cooking and taste testing sequences.

A page from Sweetness and Lightning, Vol. 2

Mmmm… donuts…

While Gido Amagakure’s writing oozes warmth and comfort, her art is a bit plain and generic. Lanky arms, lack of backgrounds, and generic character designs all work to render Sweetness and Lightning a visually bland and unmemorable read. Kohei is a fairly typical, vaguely attractive, bespectacled type, while Kotori is an utterly generic school girl with no real remarkable features to her. Only Tsumugi’s design has anything memorable about it, and that’s mostly thanks to Gido’s ability to convey the energy and innocence of a young girl through Tsumugi’s near omnipresent grin and large eyes.

There is an undeniable charm to Sweetness and Lightning. The innocence of Tsumugi, the lack of real conflict, and the barest hint of tension, all combine to make this something of a comfort food for manga readers. There’s a warmth to the series that most other titles lack. That said, it’s also not the kind of that’s going to stick to your ribs once you put it down. It’s nice and enjoyable, but ultimately fairly forgettable.

Sweetness and Lightning, Vols. 1 + 2 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

  1. June 13, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    I thought the student-teacher aspect was a rather odd choice for this series. It just felt like an unnecessary dimension to the story.

    • June 14, 2017 at 12:12 am

      The translation notes mention how Japanese teachers used to socialize with their students and their students family outside of class, but they don’t anymore. I guess its presence here is a commentary on how that was a healthy and helpful relationship that’s since fallen off to the detriment of everyone, maybe…?

      The teasing of possible romantic feelings definitely felt out of place, but I’m assuming its a red herring and won’t ultimately play out that way.

  1. July 6, 2017 at 8:14 pm

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