Amaama to Inazuma (English: Sweetness and Lightning) is an anime that follows the story of a single father, widowed by his wife’s death, and his struggle to supply his young daughter with the nice, healthy meals that his wife used to make, rather than buying her bento boxes from the convenience store all the time. Working as a teacher, he manages to find help from one of his pupils, Kotori, who happens to be the daughter of a famous chef.
Now, the first thing I want to say about the show is that there is, really, no plot. Sure, you follow Kouhei’s journey in how he develops his culinary skills and how he tries to balance work life with home life as he struggles to adjust and look after Tsumugi, his daughter, but there is no actual real storyline. It’s a slice-of-life anime and that’s basically what you get: slices of their everyday life with no actual continuation from one episode to another. However, that does not mean that this show loses anything. In fact, it somehow gains something as it showcases, and focuses on, how charming family life is. I wanted to point this out firstly as the final episode does not conclude anything. Why? Because there’s nothing to conclude and that left me somewhat disappointed. However…
This show is good. Especially if you’re a foodie. If you like your food, you will appreciate the many different types of food in this show. From Hamburg steaks to doughnuts, from mochi to curries – this show has so many different types of food involved and it all looks so good! Many times whilst watching this series, I have found myself wanting to cook whatever they have cooked and, if I’m being completely honest, I still want to.
Maybe I should. Regardless, the food takes up a huge portion of the show. Quite easily, you will spend approximately half the show watching the characters make and/or eat food.
The show is not good, however, if you were entering it expecting a dramatic, emotional story about a widow and about a child without a mother figure. In fact, this is where I agree with Banjo over at The Chuuni Corner who claims that this is a show with wasted potential. It definitely is. Several times I wished that they would try and give Tsumugi a maternal figure who isn’t Kotori (because she really is the closest thing to a maternal figure that Tsumugi seems to get and that’s just a little…weird).
If you’re wanting a show with character development, Amaama to Inazuma probably isn’t the show for you. Sure, the relationship between Tsumugi and Kouhei develops and you learn more about Tsumugi’s troubles at school (an aspect of the show which often also takes up half an episode) and how she learns how to deal with them, but that is about it. There’s no real development on Kotori, Yuusuke or Shinobu. Kotori is there assisting Kouhei and Tsumugi with no actual purpose apart from to guide them through all the recipes. And what frustrates me about this is that she has a back story. We get flashbacks from her, but they’re just pushed to one side. We know she has aichmophobia (fear of sharp things) but the anime never really tells us anything about this.
From this point on, then, we have to look at the show at what it actually is: a cooking anime. As previously stated, the show is good if you’re a foodie and I think it’s time I delve into the positives to explain why this is the case.
Firstly, I want to talk about the soundtrack. The music used in Amaama to Inazuma is so nice to listen to. The OP, as I’ve mentioned quite a few times on here, is without a doubt one of my favourites. Here is what I said about it, in my post entitled My Favourite Anime OPs (September 2016):
Oh. My. God. This is beyond cute. This is fun. This is perfect for a series where one of the main characters is a kid at kindergarten. Seriously, this is a perfect song to play whenever you’re down, particularly if you’ve been watching the series this season. Would I have guessed that the vocalist was 26? Not at all, but hey- that’s talent for you.
The glissando at the beginning of the OP which introduces the first verse just makes me happy as a pianist and the electronic robotic vibes that I think comes from what seems to be a mixture of an xylophone and some chimes is such a good touch. Regardless of what instrument it is, though, it’s still a nice little element and continues to capture the childlike tone that is also shown within the show itself. The rest of the OST is mostly based around pianos and flutes, but again, they go so well with the show’s simple but charming tone, yet also compliments the childish antics of the show as well. It’s a confusing mix, but it works incredibly well. The ED certainly doesn’t have as much charm as the OP, but it’s still a nice song to listen to. An acoustic piece called Maybe by Brian The Sun, I like to think it as a complete contrast to the OP. It’s almost as if the OP was Tsumugi’s song (arguably so considering how much she’s in the actual OP animation) whilst the ED represents Kouhei. I could be completely wrong and that could be an awful lot of over-analysis but that’s how I feel, listening to the ED.
I can’t mention the music in the show and not mention the shark song, however. Before we move onto other aspects of the anime, let me tell you about the cutest bit in an anime I’ve ever seen thus far. So, Tsugumi likes to sing. A lot. Like most four year olds, right? She makes up songs on the spot whilst her father and Kotori cook, such as the song she sang to ensure the food doesn’t clump and the song she sang whilst they made crepes and it’s the most adorable thing. Until, that is, you get to the shark song. Walking around the streets, Tsumugi treads carefully along one particular type of floor tile – a game that most children play and is sorta like “the ground is lava” but much more tame. She pretends that other floor tiles are the ocean and therefore doesn’t want to touch them and be eaten by sharks. Ladies and gentleman, even if you are not interested in watching this show, I encourage you to at least watch this scene – you will be left feeling like you want a child so much it’s unbelievable, even if it’s just for a brief second.
Despite my somewhat rambly point there, what I’m trying to say is that is what Amaama to Inazuma does best – it captures what children are really like. Tsumugi definitely isn’t a complete angel and this is shown in the series really well. It’s not an idealistic slice-of-life, but a realistic one – it shows Kouhei’s panic, it shows Tsumugi’s tantrums and that’s what I like about it. It shows family life as any anime should.
So, to summarise: sure, the show has wasted some potential in having literally no continuation of storyline, but it’s still enjoyable to watch in some weird way I don’t really understand. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Tsumugi and Kouhei – I just find it a shame that we don’t really find out much about the other characters. Personally, I want a second season. The anime stopped at chapter 19 in the manga, which is still ongoing and currently has over forty chapters, which implies that there is an actual storyline. We’ll see – perhaps I should just read the manga.
Nevertheless, as long as you’re not wanting a series that’s actually serious and just want to sit down and relax, maybe daydream about food, Amaama to Inazuma is the show for you. Just don’t be too disappointed if it’s not what you expected.
Don’t forget to check out Banjo’s (Chuuni Corner) review of the same series here!