Sweetness and Lightning Volume 2 – Review Discussion

Sweetness and Lightning:

Volume 2

Reviewed by: Linny

Back, evil vegetable, back i say.

Back, evil vegetable, back i say.

Volume Synopsis (Spoiler Warning): Kotori continues to help Kouhei learn new recipes to please Tsumugi. New characters are introduced whose presence cause all sorts of drama such as a potential kidnapping, a marriage proposal and the discovery of Kotori’s complicated feelings towards her teacher.

Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):

Volume 2 kicks off with Kouhei realizing that he needs to learn to not only feed Tsumugi the food she enjoys but also introduce her to a healthy diet of vegetables, including those she does not like. It’s a simple story as we watch Kouhei struggle to find a recipe that will help Tsumugi overcome her food dislikes and genuinely enjoy eating them. Of course, we have Kotori come to the rescue and the chapter ends on a playful note as Kouhei ‘sort of’ succeeds in his quest. There’s nothing to critique here, it is just a cute story and we get to see a glimpse of Kouhei as a child himself. the chapter moves fast and Tsumugi gets to be her cutest self as she devotes herself to coming up with a spell that will help with the cooking.

Stranger danger! Stranger Danger!

Stranger danger! Stranger Danger!

The next chapter is one of the funniest in the series so far as we deal with a potential kidnapping. Spoiler, it’s all a case of mistaken identities and a comedy of error and all ends well. If you had been wishing for some classic comedy gags. this chapter is a winner and might help win over those of us who like their stories to be more lively. Yes, it’s predictable but it’s fun and a nice high from the laid back and more emotional tones of the story.

So this volume does start off light with two stories back to back that are more on the silly side of things but the rest of it touches upon some sadder notes. First off, we watch Kouhei attend a parent’s day at Tsumugi’s school and notice that she might be lacking the more fashionable and feminine attention that comes from a mother. There are flashbacks to her funeral which make for a somber read and it of course leads to Kouhei better understanding and bonding with his daughter over their shared loss. This was definitely an extremely sweet story with an ending that truly warms the heart.

Next we get a Kotori centric story as her complicated feelings towards her Sensei catch the eye of her friend which made for a thrilling read as I  was genuinely surprised that her infatuation was brought into the spotlight so soon. It’s a bit of a letdown though to watch it play out as we never get an honest and frank confession from Kotori and her friend seems content to leave it be as it is. But seeing as we’re just starting out, it’s understandable that we shy away from getting too direct and upfront about Kotori’s infatuation. There’s a whole side story that’s happening simultaneously that’s more about Tsumugi and her enthusiasm getting out of hand which also gave us a look at Kouhei’s parenting style. Tsumugi is a perfect child, being imaginary and all, and even when she is at her worst, she doesn’t come anywhere close to being a true nightmare. So though we have her doing something technically wrong, it still plays out adorable and syrupy sweet like most standard happy fiction. It’s a pattern that’s repeated in this volume itself and will most likely be seen again and again in future volumes as well. Given her young age, it’s also unlikely and uncomfortable to ever have her doing something truly reprehensible so there’s no doubt that this series is going to remain ever so sweet for quite a while, if not all the way to the end.

sl2d

Do the clump dance spell.

Our final chapter flirts with darkness once again as Tsumugi gets lost during a summer purification festival. It’s a situation that’s a nightmare to any parent, and even for those who aren’t parents can grasp the horror of it. It’s a tense situation, one you KNOW is going to end well, but it does a great job of portraying Kouhei’s desperation and fright. Even his angry outburst on finding Tsumugi feels very emotional and powerful as one can only imagine the rush of emotions overwhelming him. All in all, it was a good choice for a final chapter especially for a story that’s been somewhat sweet all throughout. It makes an impact and really helps to dramatize and highlight the bond between father and daughter, and the focus on that bond becomes even more evident when Kotori cooks them a meal that she learnt from her own father who has been out of her life since she was a young child.

This volume has a ton of new characters, a lot of whom seem destined to make regular appearances or have references in upcoming stories. We got Yagi aka Kouhei’s buddy and Kotori’s friend, Shinobu and several of Tsumugi’s friends but in particular, Mikio who is going to be the butt of several jokes and Kouhei’s jealousy from what I can tell. It was nice to see them reappear repeatedly and organically throughout the volume, making them feel like a true part of our character’s lives and not just randomly inserted characters. Yagi and Mikio play off Tsumugi very well, with Yagi’s rather brute like mannerisms making such a hilarious contrast against Tsumugi’s hyperactive enthusiasm and innocence. And having little Mikio be so completely enamored with Tsumugi made for some funny and cute moments because who can deny the cuteness of young love.

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They grow up so fast, maybe too fast.

For those who were worried about Sweetness remaining too laid back, Volume 2 succeeds in injecting it with more life with some hilarious mishaps and some heart pounding chapters. It remains true to its realistic core by making sure that though a lot more intense, none of these chapters involve any situations or characters that feel too fictionalized to the point of absurdity. So those on the opposite end of the spectrum who enjoy the story for its realism need not worry either. The story seems to be getting stronger and really hitting its stride while preserving its sweetness and its humble charm so be sure to pick it up if simple slice of life stories about family bonding appeal to you. And of course, you get to learn plenty of new recipes for dishes that you may have heard of before in the world of anime and manga.

Sweetness and Lightning is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com and Kindle. Physical volumes are also available for pre-order on Amazon.com and Rightstufanime.com. And as a reminder,the very first chapter is also available for free on Kodanshacomics.com.

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