Sweetness and Lightning Volume 01 Manga Review

Sweetness and Lightning Volume 01 Manga Review
Amaama to Inazuma Manga Volume 01

Buy Sweetness and Lightning Volume 01 from Amazon.com

***SPOILERS***

Sweetness and Lightning Volume 01It is often said that anime today is mostly used as an advertisement for some product. Usually, that product is a source manga or light novel series. In the case of the Sweetness and Lightning anime, it was to promote the Sweetness and Lightning (Amaama to Inazuma in the Japanese) manga. Thanks to Crunchyroll running both the anime simulcast and the manga simulpub, the advertising campaign was a success on me, leading me to purchase the first volume from Kodansha Comics.

The Story In Brief

For those unaware, Sweetness and Lightning is the story of the widowed INUZUKA Kouhei and his kindergarten daughter Tsumugi. Kouhei worries about making good food for his daughter, but he’s not a good cook. While taking Tsumugi to a flower viewing, father and daughter chance upon a sad teen girl named IIDA Kotori. Because of Tsumugi’s conversation with Kotori, Kotori invites them to her mother’s restaurant, Megumi’s Restaurant.

One evening, seeing Tsumugi’s desperate desire for good food, Kouhei takes her to Megumi’s Restaurant. Although closed, it opens for them. There, the girl Kotori waits, explaining her mom is out working elsewhere. Although Kotori’s not experienced, she manages to make good rice for Kouhei and Tsumugi. Thus begins an unlikely friendship between Kouhei and the girl who turns out to be in his homeroom class, Kotori. Together, the two learn to cook, based on recipes from Kotori’s mom, to make dishes that they and Tsumugi enjoy.

Part Cooking Manga, Part Slice of Life Manga

There are five chapters in this first volume of the manga. The slice of life aspect is the thread that ties the series together. Within that, there are two storylines. The first story thread is for Kouhei and Tsumugi. It isn’t heavily focused on, but it is clear that Kouhei is still dealing with the loss of his wife and Tsumugi’s mother. Tsumugi also misses her mom. Kouhei wants to make his daughter happy, and food is one way to do that.

This volume of the manga does establish other elements such as Kouhei’s life as a teacher and Tsumugi’s life at kindergarten.Β  Kouhei has a couple of fellow teachers whom he interacts with some. Tsumugi has her friends at school, and a boy that caused her a great deal of grief. Since we are early in the manga, not a lot of ground is covered here.

The other story thread is Kotori’s. Because Kouhei and Tsumugi are the primary, driving force behind the manga, Kotori’s personal life doesn’t get as much focus. However, we do learn enough to know that she’s a lonely girl, being raised by a single mom after her mom and dad divorced. Her mom appears on TV and does whatever other stuff she does instead of running her own restaurant.

Whatever happens in a particular chapter determines what kind of food Kouhei and Kotori will ultimately make. With each chapter, the two characters gain confidence in their skills and try new things. The recipe for one dish is presented in a chapter is displayed at the end of the chapter.

Anime vs Manga: The First Three Chapters

For whatever reason, the anime only adopted the first three chapters of volume 1. They did a really good job of adaptation. However, the anime dropped any overt references to romance between Kotori and Kouhei. For example, in chapter two, Kotori understands that Kouhei wouldn’t want anyone to know he’s seeing a female student outside of class. She decides to pretend she doesn’t know him on a personal level, but then wonders what she’d do if Kouhei fell in love with her.

Outside of that, the first three chapters were adapted quite well. The anime padded a bit here and there, but considering they were adopting a single chapter per anime episode. But then, there’s the question of the final two chapters that the anime didn’t adapt, other than the introduction of Shinobu’s character in chapter five.

Anime vs Manga: Skipping Chapters Four and Five

In chapter four, Kouhei and Kotori make food for Golden Week picnics, not planning to spend any time together. However, Kotori’s mom has to work and bails on her daughter. At the same time, rain causes Kouhei to have to cancel his picnic with Tsumugi. And thanks to Tsumugi, they have their picnic at Kotori’s place, complete with a small nap tent they erect in her home. This certainly helps evoke a sense of intimacy and family.

For chapter five, Tsumugi gets sick. Kotori becomes concerned and decides to pay a covert visit to Kouhei’s home. After delivering some food, she then becomes concerned about how Kouhei must feel about her visit. However, Kouhei has her babysit the sick Tsugumi while he goes out to get canned peaches for Tsumugi. This allows for Kotori to get even closer to Tsumugi while getting to see a picture of Kouhei’s deceased wife at the little shrine they have.

Then after they do their cooking bit, Kotori and Kouhei are just chatting when she realizes she’s not in a normal situation and flees. Kouhei is her teacher, and while she still addresses him as Sensei, she’s at his home in the evening and chatting with him as friends, not as student-teacher. This is all completely inappropriate, more so in Japanese society. It makes her wonder what their relationship would be were he not her teacher.

The Romantic Element

I suspect that the anime dropped chapters four and five from being adapted because these two chapters continue the romantic aspect, at least as far as Kotori’s feelings for Kouhei are concerned. For me, this romantic element is the icing on the cake. There must be some concern about even hinting at a student-teacher romance in an anime. That made sense to me when it is really weird and creepy, such as Cardcaptor Sakura. With Sweetness and Lightning, there is no weird nor creepy vibe from the manga story, at least at present.

Kouhei is oblivious to any romantic elements at this point. He understands that his friendship with Kotori would not be looked on well. However, since Kotori is mature enough to understand this, the two can have their friendship at school and keep it under wraps. And thanks to Tsumugi, there’s a plot device to make sure Kouhei has a reason to overcome caution to see Kotori in a friendly fashion outside of school.

I’m hoping that the romantic element continues in future volumes. I’d like to see Kouhei eventually become aware of this and explore his own feelings for Kotori, especially since the two of them are building a friendship that could be seen as a husband and wife relationship, sans the sex.

The Kodansha Comics Release

The Sweetness and Lightning volume 01 manga is larger in size than traditional manga. The volume clocks in at 5.7 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches instead of normal 5 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches. The cover doesn’t have the heavy weight that normal covers do, which is unfortunate. There are six color pages at the start of the volume, four dedicated to the actual manga story.

Japanese honorifics are used in this volume, except for when it comes to Tsumugi’s stuffed animal, Galigali-san. For some weird reason, as in the anime, this is translated as Mr. Galigali. What happens if Galigai-san is a girl?

When it comes to the Japanese foods, the majority of the time, the Japanese food names are used, which I prefer since Japanese foods I learn about in anime in manga are ones I seek out in authentic Japanese restaurants. So I was happy to see “tamagoyaki” used. “Rice omelet” was used instead of “omurice.” That one didn’t bother me.

However, “fried chicken” was used instead of “karage.” Both karage and chicken tempura are boneless fried chicken. Karage is battered with potato starch instead of tempura batter. Further, Karage has the chicken cut into bite sized pieces before battering and frying. For me, using “fried chicken” evokes thoughts of KFC, Popeyes, Church’s, or the like. Karage isn’t the same, even if it is a type of fried chicken.

There are a couple of pages of translator notes. Most of these are dedicated to explaining the Japanese foods. I very much appreciate those.

There’s a small omake manga chapter at the end of the volume, depicting Shinobu and Kotori in middle school, which was fun. There’s a traditional page from Amagakure-sensei, thanking folks and such.

Finally, Kodansha Comics has several pages of ads for their other manga products.

Conclusion

In the end, Sweetness and Lightning volume 01 is wholesome slice of life fun with a generous side hunger inducing cooking. If you enjoyed the anime, I highly recommend picking up the manga to get the rest of the story. If you haven’t watched the anime, I still highly recommend this series for its wholesomeness and fun.


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11 Responses to “Sweetness and Lightning Volume 01 Manga Review”

  1. WMC says:

    Both volumes of the manga continue the romantic developments, I’m happy to say. I hope the story continues long enough for Kotori and Inuzuka to get together, after she graduates, turns 18 or something. Romance between people of large age difference can actually work here. Apparently Kotori’s mother leaves prepared food for Kotori every morning before she leaves early for the TV studio as a budding celebrity cook. I don’t see her mom as abandoning Kotori, just working hard at what she knows, cooking, to survive. Doesn’t prevent Kotori from feeling lonely. This entire effort flies very well. Art, characters, dialogue and background all fill out a great story. More, more please.

    The marketing scam of anime has repelled me to the point of sticking only to the manga versions. Exceptions would be movies like “Totoro,” “Whisper of the Heart” and the recent sensation by Yonebayashi, “When Marnie Was There.” Great continuations of Miyazaki’s work, and better for some things like interiors

  2. WMC says:

    re manga vs anime. Read Shinkai’s “The Garden of Words” in manga form again, then watched the anime. Because there’s little action in the story, the manga comes off better, if you can ignore that fantastic background art of Shinkai-sensei in the movie. But that’s the point of the movie, you get so enthralled by the art that you can almost ignore the plot! It’s a great experience. However, the manga elucidates that intense, intense attraction between Takao and Yukari a little better. It can spend more time on the inner dialogue of these two extremely attractive characters. So there’s only one thing to do: get both.

    To recap a little: Yukari Yukino-sensei is a female high school teacher, age 28, who’s been slandered and abused by some jealous girl students to the point of not being able to face going to teach , so she spends the mornings in Tokyo’s Shinjoukou Gyouen Park drinking beer and eating chocolates. Takao Akazuki is a boy freshman, probably age 16. who skips school and spends the rainy June mornings in the park drawing shoes and thinking about becoming a shoemaker. Isolated, they often meet in one of the gazebos there and quickly form a friendship that develops into love. And roaring but understated sexual heat by both, especially Yukari. In spite of the age difference. A couple of illicit facts obtain: he’s a minor and her drinking in the park is illegal. But those are a elephant and serve to intensify their powerful attraction for each other. Great example of love between teacher and student of wide age difference.

    The master of inner dialogue, Jane Austen, gave us Emma and Mr. Knightly. She’s 21 and he’s 38.

  3. WMC says:

    Picked up Vol 3 of the manga. Same great story, and the drafting has actually improved from already good. Tsumugi and the sharks appears when she leaves home by herself to find Kotori because her father is sick. The sharks don’t actually appear, but it’s obviously the same scene. Much better in the anime. Is the “g” in “Tsumugi” hard or soft, as in “ugh” or “gee.” I pronounce it TSU-muh-gee.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I have to make my order for volume 3. And I still have to write a review for volume 2.

      As for her name, it is Tsu-moo-gee in phonetics (hard g sound).

      • WMC says:

        By watching anime with spoken Japanese I see that the accent is usually on the first syllable! AHHuhna (Asuna) instead of AhSOOna. Where is it in “Tsumugi?” Also in “When Marnie was There” Frau Oiwa renders Anna-chan as “Anna-cha,” leaving out the “n” at the end. Is this normal. One more also: Japanese speakers in anime leave out whole syllables, especially in names.

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          I don’t know that there’s an accent on Tsumugi. ^_^;

          Frau Oiwa renders Anna-chan as β€œAnna-cha,” leaving out the β€œn” at the end. Is this normal.

          I don’t think I’ve seen “-cha” as an ending. I’ve seen “-chi”, but usually as something like Annacchi rather than Anna-chi (as an example).

          One more also: Japanese speakers in anime leave out whole syllables, especially in names.

          It only seems like it to our untrained ears. Japanese hear them. And it isn’t just names. It is normal words too. πŸ˜›

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