Saori HayamiRisae MatsudaAina SuzukiAkari Uehara
Sweetness and Lightning
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2016: S
Also known as: Amaama to Inazuma
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2016
Director: Tarou Iwasaki
Writer: Mitsutaka Hirota
Original creator: Gido Amagakure
Actor: Rina Endo, Saori Hayami, Yuichi Nakamura, Haruka Tomatsu, Komugi Kuga, Saaya Ando, Satomi Arai, Shoki Tsuru, Tomokazu Seki, Yuko Hara, Ai Kayano, Aina Suzuki, Akari Uehara, Ayaka Mitsumoto, Chika Fujito, Daiki Yamashita, Fuka Haruna, Fukushi Ochiai, Haruki Makino, Haruo Takayama, Hirokazu Machida, Hiroki Tasaka, Hiroto Yamauchi, Kaori Nazuka, Kazusa Aranami, Keiko Seo, Kouji Fujiyoshi, Kouki Harasawa, Moe Shirota, Nana, Nao Natsuno, Natsumi Hioka, Osamu Kaneko, Reina Kondo, Rie Kawamura, Rikako Yamaguchi, Risae Matsuda, Ruito Koga, Ryoka Yuzuki, Sayuri Sadaoka, Seiya Kimura, Shohei Kajikawa, Shou Ueno, Tadashi Hasebe, Takuma Sasaki, Tetsuya Oka, Tokia Kitahara, Yoko Hikasa, Yu Arisugawa, Yu Sanada, Yuko Sasaki
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 26 April 2017
Amaama Inazuma
It's a food show, but a terribly nice one. Kouhei Inuzuka is a high school maths teacher whose wife died six months ago. Tsumugi is his daughter, aged four or so. Kotori Iida is one of Kouhei's students, who helps out at her usually absent mother's restaurant and becomes very fond of the Inuzukas. She can't really cook, but that's okay. Inuzuka can't either.
It's a slice-of-life show and it practically writes itself. Each episode takes us into the daily life of Kouhei and Tsumugi, culminating in the cooking and eating of a meal that makes everyone happy. It's cute and nice. However it's also a bit more meaningful than your average iyashikei show, thanks to that initial bereavement and the fact that Kouhei must be having a tough time. He's raising a four-year-old on his own. He's having to juggle work and nursery appointments. Kotori's shocked in ep.5 to realise that he has friends. He can't even cook. Tsumugi's a good girl, but even so she's capable of acting her age and giving Kouhei a headache. To me, the happiness thus feels more earned.
There's some very mild one-sided romantic tension with Kotori. None of it's from Kouhei. He's got no room in his head for anything but Tsumugi. However Kotori does like him a lot and it's not unknown for her to react strongly to something that could be perceived as a threat. (Kotori also has an energetic friend, Shinobu, who ends up trying to be a sort of matchmaker for the two of them.)
They form their little cooking circle in the first place because Kouhei's looking for a restaurant and he stumbles into Kotori's, even though it's theoretically shut because her celebrity chef mum is on TV again. She cooks for him anyway. She's keen to keep doing so, because she loves sharing food with others and because Kouhei's even more hopeless in the kitchen than she is. However Kouhei's hesitant, because he's worried about whether this would be proper. (He's a conscientious person.) They eventually get over that, though, and the show settles into a format of the three of them becoming a sort of part-time surrogate family.
It's a slightly unusual cooking show because the main characters are all bad at it. Kotori and Kouhei both have friends or family who are professional chefs, but they're still the ones who are going to have to get their hands dirty. Kotori's mum will write down a recipe, then our heroes will try to do it. Kotori's scared of knives and capable of burning rice. You'll get scared of knives too, in fact. Nothing bad ever happens, but it's still slightly unnerving to see Kouhei trying to chop things. However they generally succeed at what they're trying to do and make something delicious. It's also refreshing to get a cooking show that doesn't assume too much knowledge and instead has characters who are liable to need everything explained from first principles. We see how to cut up a fresh fish and even a squid. Ep.7 has something you can do with hard rice that looks rather nifty. Ep.5 shows you how to make doughnuts, which for some reason I'd never thought about before. I'd sometimes find myself getting interested in this show's cooking for its own sake, which I don't tend to get from more high-falutin' shows.
(Mind you, these people think garam masala makes curry hot. That's Japanese curry for you. I was also surprised that they didn't cut the onion ends off first in ep.3, while I was baffled in ep.11 when they melted the butter in the frying pan... and then let it get cold again while they made the crepe batter. Is that a thing? It seems to be part of the recipe, so I suppose it must be.)
The parenting stuff is nice too. It's not high drama, but Kouhei has more than enough problems to keep him busy. Tsumugi regards green peppers as the enemy and doesn't always get on with the other children at her nursery.
There's a quirk in the voice cast, though. Tsumugi's played by an twelve-year-old, Rina Endou. I didn't think she was very good in ep.1, but then I looked her up and saw that she was a child actress. After that, I adjusted. She is what she is. I'm not sure I buy her as a four-year-old, but I accepted her performance and sometimes even thought she was good. Her hairstyle is unrealistic (would Kouhei really have time to look after that?) but that I think you have to swallow as an anime-ism.
It's a happy, relaxing show. Admittedly I have a son who's almost Tsumugi's age, so I was nearly the ideal viewer. I'd be nodding along, recognising things she did and approving of how Kouhei handled her. (He's a good dad. He's good at keeping calm and he tries hard.) I'm not a big fan of cooking shows, but this one's cooking sequences are tolerable and I'm capable of watching a pleasant show like this. I was amused by, for instance, Kouhei and Kotori's shock in ep.6 at two expert cooks choosing to tweak the recipe. Oh, and I like the opening theme music. This show isn't a big deal, but I enjoyed it.