I really liked the opening episode of Sweetness and Lightning. It captured something about cooking that so many other anime about cooking never do. They captured the joy in seeing someone you care about eating your homemade food. It wasn’t shounen battle cooking where the actual cooking could be replaced with anything and it would be the same show. It felt like a show where the cooking was central to the story, and as someone who cooks a lot that spoke to me personally. Yet after a couple of episodes and already my interest is waning and I think it’s because it has lost its high stakes somewhat.
All right, I know that sounds a bit ridiculous in a show about a single dad cooking for his daughter, but this sort of thing is all relative and you need to get back to the heart of what’s at stake. In episode 1 his daughter eating the pre-packaged meals has stripped a lot of the love out of meals, which left after her mother died. It’s not really about eating good food. It’s about the act of cooking it yourself and feeling a stronger connection between you and your children, something that you didn’t realise had left after the mother died. It gets at a much deeper emotion which plays into the central drama and core themes of the show, which is why it’s so satisfying to see the delighted smile on the girl’s face when she eats that bowl of rice. It’s about the emotional connection created from the homemade meal.
But since that first episode there hasn’t really been any more drama created. Either they’re just piggybacking on what the first episode created, but with significantly less emotional impact as the connection had already been established, or it’s completely trivial child drama that means nothing. They keep on dropping hints that they’ll cover something in regards to the highschool student and her relationship with her mother, but it’s just sat in the background. For now that’s fine. It’s good to build these sorts of storylines up slowly until they become relevant. But in the meantime it feels like they’re trying to get away with sweetness on its own, which gets very boring and shallow very fast. We need a bit more lightning to back up this sweetness.
Let’s compare to Bunny Drop for a second, as they are very similar anime. In Bunny Drop there’s always a new drama developing. The struggles of figuring out what to do with a new child, finding out where her original mother is, dealing with family bickering, and so on. This isn’t that I want melodrama. Even very serious drama can be low key, hitting the emotional heights where the story requires it. Bunny Drop may have been a sweet little slice of life josei show, but it normally had some serious issues driving the story, or at least serious within the context of Bunny Drop’s story. Sweetness and Lightning feels like it’s lacking that right now. Hopefully it will pick back up again and not feel quite so frivolous.
(yeah you may have noticed the complete lack of posts lately. I’ve had no idea what sorts of posts to write here as any big ideas go on MAL. In the past I wouldn’t really bother with shorter idea posts like this, but from now on I’m going to try write a lot more of these so I at least have something.