Sweetness and Lightning by Gido Amagakure

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.

Sweetness and Lightning by Gido Amagakure is one of the sweetest stories I have ever read. I read this series before I became a parent myself, and now looking back at the series, I realize how impactful of a story it is.

The series follows a single dad, Kouhei Inuzuka as he raises his daughter Tsumugi alone. Having lost his wife, he is doing the best he can to be the best dad. One thing he struggles with is cooking. One of his students, Kotori Iida, works at her family’s restaurant. One day Kouhei and Tsumugi stop at Kotori’s family’s restaurant and this opens the door of their relationship. As the three begin to get together to eat, they begin to learn a lot about cooking and themselves.

Every now and then, when I recommend this series to someone, they instantly are put-off because they don’t want to see a student/teacher relationship develop. But it doesn’t. So, if that’s put you off from trying this series, don’t let it. The relationship between the two characters is nothing more than friendship. One thing I really loved about this series were all the recipes at the end of the chapters. I have tried making some of them in the past, and they have always turned out delicious. (The dry curry was amazing!!)

This story shows how a family has to move through grief and continue to live. Despite the fact that they have both lost one of the most important people in their lives, they honor Tsumugi’s mother’s memory while making new memories of their own. Tsumugi’s dad is one of the best dad characters I’ve ever read. He puts his daughter first, always wanting to do better for her. And she is a wonderful daughter, always trying to make things easier for her dad where she can.

At the start of the series, Tsumugi is very young. She wants to learn about cooking, but both Kouhei Inuzuka and Kotori Iida are nervous in the kitchen. There are scenes where Kotori is afraid to use a knife, but slowly grows more comfortable with it. And Kouhei slowly learns to cook…and not just because he has to, but because he wants to. Tsumugi is a picky eater, and one of my favorite little scenes in the series is when she won’t eat anything that has peppers in it. But Kotori cuts the tops off of peppers and fills it with water for Tsumugi to use as a cup. It bridges the gap for Tsumugi from something she hates with something she can now love.

And in a way, this story features a lot of life’s bridges. The bridge between the past and the future. Between loss and love. Between our dreams and our successes. It’s gorgeous. From the artwork, to the story, to the food and the characters, this story is full of life. Sweetness and Lightning is a slice of life manga series. It centers around food, but it’s packed with emotions on every page. The characters laugh and cry, they fall and pick themselves back up. You get to watch Tsumugi grow into a young girl by the end of the series (and I sobbed so much at this).

Kotori too, has her own struggles in this series. She’s a high school student trying to figure out her life and where she wants to go and who she wants to be. This isn’t an easy thing, especially when her mother is an extremely well-known chef. Her journey and strength as her confidence grows is mesmerizing to watch. I think at the end of the day, she and the other characters in the series show how important it is to believe in yourself because when you do, you can really do anything.

This is a story of togetherness, family and found family. If you read this series, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with the characters and the food. I watched season one of the anime (not sure if it’s ever being picked up for more), but it was amazing and wholesome too.

I’m very excited because I recently started Gido Amagakure’s newest series, A Galaxy Next Door, which proves already to be just as delightful and shows an interesting perspective on the world of writing manga. I highly recommend Sweetness and Lightning. It’s too cute and sweet to miss!

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