Having lost his wife, math teacher Kouhei Inuzuka is doing his best to raise his young daughter Tsumugi as a single father. He’s pretty bad at cooking and doesn’t have a huge appetite to begin with, but chance brings his little family and one of his students, Kotori Iida, together for homemade adventures. With those three cooks in the kitchen, it’s no wonder this dinner table drama is so delicious.
A delightful little cooking manga that's remarkably re-readable. STORY Sweetness and Lighting uses a highly episodic structure, so it's fairly easy to pick up at any point. Gido Amakure definitely went for a light tone here, we're talking Full House levels of drama. Yet while this manga clearly leans towards cute and happy, it never quite crosses the line into a full-blown unreadable saccharine glob of pandering. It knows what it is and sticks to that. ART Most of the effort goes into drawing the characters (particularly Tsumugi and Kotori's cute eating expressions) and the food itself. Backgrounds are quite basic and often minimal, with little more detail than is needed to establish the location, and it's common for the background to simply be blank for several panels. The art focuses on the critical elements. CHARACTERS Much like the American sitcom I previously compared this series too, the cast members in Sweetness and Lightning have a basic role they're all supposed to play, a certain value they're supposed to add to the equation and don't change much. Kohei is the average everyman, Tsumugi is embodiment of kawaii, Kotori is the nice high school girl because it's apparently against Japanese law to not have a high school girl in a manga (and is also a Gold-Tier Best Girl). Within this framework designed to preserve the status quo, however, the cast is pretty good. I especially appreciate how this manga handles an ongoing sub arc where Kotori tries to sort out her exact feelings for Kohei - who is both her teacher and several years older than her. Kohei is extremely professional in his actions towards her and clearly never considers any kind of inappropriate relationship, while Kotori knows she feels strongly towards him but doesn't want to rush to the conclusion that it's romantic love. I appreciate that Amakure avoided sleazy pandering, it would have sunk this series. OVERALL It's light and easy reading, but still very enjoyable. Now I'm hungry...
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