Tag Archives: Sweetness and Lightning

Gateway Anime For Older Viewers.

Anime is a very diverse media, I will always defend its ability to offer robust and diverse stories. Particularly ones that fans would never see in other media. That said, most anime has a lot of tropes that do not age well as fans get older.

There doesn’t seem to be any end to the school life, battle, magic and high fantasy styles of anime out there. Those are all well and good. I love anime like My Hero Academia, Attack On Titan, and Ancient Magus Bride. That being said, I can only take so much before my brain begins to melt.

Sometimes I want anime closer to the live action shows I like. Series like Golden Girls, Fraser and N.C.I.S. just to name a few.

In a sea of releases aimed at children, teens and young adults sometimes it’s hard to see the true wealth of content the medium can offer to older viewers. Adult fans aren’t inherently creeps or mouth breathers. No, we don’t all fail to have a social life. No, anime is not just for immature viewers…

Gone are days of endless absolute crap like Green Green (don’t look that up, seriously) and shows like it. Yes they’re a thing, no they are not the only thing.

Thankfully this narrow-minded view has begun to change, but we have a long way to go. Unfortunately, there’s just one small issue holding this movement back a bit.

A Misunderstanding of Maturity

No, not all anime is strictly deviant in some way, shape, or form. Yet, this is a mindset that continues to plague the media. Many believe anime cannot possibly be something mature, without also being crammed full of things you’d be ashamed to admit being interested it.

Nine times out of ten when society (read: non-anime fans) think of an anime aimed at older viewers, they think of things that are somehow disturbing, raunchy, super violent, or just flat out pornographic. That’s the stigma, but it’s not the whole truth.

It’s drives me crazy that we are still bashing our faces against this stigma in 2021, but here we are. Now, as a thirty-one year old anime, I take issue with the logic that all anime aimed at older viewers needs to be questionable. It’s just not true.

I try to combat this stigma by educating people about the full scope that anime has to offer. With time, I’ve even had success with it. It all comes down to finding the right series to expose a non-anime fan to, and hope they take to it. At the very least, hope they see beyond their own narrow view of the topic.

There are some perfectly serviceable options for older viewers that just want characters to be near their own age, living in a down to earth society for once.

So, this is just a small list of possible anime to expose a non-anime fan to the medium. These are series that keep the tropes to a minimum and the idiocy factor fairly low.

You can expose them to that sort of thing on your own time. These are what I think of as gateway anime for anyone over the age of twenty-five. I’d like to consider these as ice-breakers to the medium, not necessarily anime that follow hard and fast rules of their respective genres at large.

You are not going to find anime like Akira and Black Lagoon on this list for the reasons above. You’re not goin to find the latest anime line-up either.

This grouping of suggestions wasn’t made for a difficult fan. It was made for a non-fan entering into the medium as an adult. This assumes that this non-fan has no desire for the obvious mega-hits that most of us would typically suggest due to the stigma’s mentioned above.

This list is in no particular order. That’s because each of them stand out based on what a person may be looking for. So let’s just dive into this, shall we?

Space Brothers: For Space Fans

Space Brothers is one the the absolute best option out there in my personal opinion. Two brothers aspire to be astronauts. One brother achieves his dream. The other decides to follow in his footsteps. This shows a life of an aspiring astronaut and the trials and tribulations he goes through.

Space Brothers is a perfect starter for a science fiction fan that wouldn’t mesh well with the idea of mecha anime. My father -who is in his seventies and absolute hates anime- has watched and enjoyed it. The entry point for viewing this series is to simply like the idea of going to space. It is accessible to non-fans that may not comprehend the space opera trope often found in anime.

To be honest, Space Brothers stands as a “catch-all” anime for me. If I don’t know what anime to pick out for a new viewers, I always go with Space Brothers. It is very accessible for an american viewer because the idea of going to outer space is part of our mass media to begin with.

Alternatively, you could always try Planetes since it is shorter. It is less down to earth in nature too, though. People have colonized on the moon, and this focuses on life within that society. The hero in this anime cleans space junk for a living.

Bartender: For Viewers of Dry Media

This is perfect for your bar loving companions in search of something thoughtful and slow moving. Bartender is a heartfelt drama at the end of the day. It chooses to dig down into the soul of personal struggles. I have a full review here, in the event you’d like more information.

Bartender is perhaps one of the best series for a character study out there. Or rather, it’s the one least likely to confuse a viewer unfamiliar with anime tropes. Unfortunately I don’t feel there’s a good alternative for Bartender, because it isn’t a “typical” anime to even begin with. It is certainly more sophisticated and refined than you would usually see in the anime medium.

Sweetness and Lightning: For Parents and Families

Sweetness and Lightning is one of the best stories of parenthood and family bonds to ever grace the anime world. If you’re in search of a typical sitcom type of show, this is it. Sweetness and Lightning is also very family friendly too, meaning children could watch with with their parents.

The single father is a widower. He is incredibly relatable to anyone who has needed to raise a child on their own. It won’t just be men that relate to him, either. Women can easily imprint upon his struggles, because they aren’t inherently based around fatherhood itself, but parenthood and the loss of a spouse in general. It isn’t a heavy series, but the themes have enough substance to resonate with older viewers. I have a review for this series as well, it can be found here.

Alternatively, there is Usagi Drop. This is a story about fatherhood and family, though this one is a bit more serious in tone. This is about a man who takes in a little girl, raising her as his daughter. The anime is absolutely wonderful. Just ignore the written media.

So, there you go. This selection of gateway anime should serve you well for older viewers. None of them are particularly recent, but they’ve all stood the test of time. Space Brothers most of all in that regard. There are countless other anime of course, but this post is getting long and diving deeper brings us into the complicated mess of sub genres and very specific tastes.

I will give more recommendations one day based on other key interests, but the down to earth anime needed to come first.

This is not a topic I will be done with any time soon, because there is plenty of gateway anime out there fully and completely serviceable to older viewers.

Until next time, everyone. This has been Kernook of the Demented Ferrets.

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

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Anime Review: Sweetness and Lightning

Note: This was an old post on the original “The Demented Ferrets” site, and prior to that it belonged to my personal blog. It is being placed here because this is now where it belongs.

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Sweetness and Lightning is a slice of life series that aired in 2016. At its core there’s a story about family, grief, and finding a place to belong.

These themes are wrapped up nicely in a show that centers around the heart of every home, the kitchen. On the surface, this is a cooking series. Beneath that, each dish that the characters make provide catharsis for their struggles.

The anime isn’t dark by any stretch of the imagination. In spite of the themes surrounding it, the series is very upbeat. The writing is masterful, but it’s not deep. Each emotional issue is handled maturely, but, the series itself can easily appeal to almost all ages. At the end of the day, the story is about familial love, and finding comfort in places that the characters would least expect them.

The anime is an adaptation of a manga with the same name. The adaptation is true to its source material, diverting only slightly when the narrative demands it. Those occasions are rare, minor, and actually make the anime a better viewing experience. The subtle changes aren’t always easy to notice, and that’s the way it should be.

The twelve episode series follows two very different family dynamics. It focuses on both equally, but, one family stands out more.

The Inuzuka Family

The first family is a father and daughter. Kōhei Inuzuka is left a widower after his wife’s passing. His daughter, Tsumugi Inuzuka is still quite young. She’s only in kindergarten, and therefore she’s solely dependent on her dad for almost every need. Kōhei struggles with the demands of being a single parent.

Working a full time job as a teacher and seeing after his youngster are large emotional commitments. He is not a homemaker, and he has no idea how to fill the void his wife left behind.

The Iida Family

The second family follows the Iida family. Kotori is a student in his class. She spends a lot of her time alone, both at home and at school. She’s a loner by choice and routine. Her mother is often away, having a very small role in the anime. The absence of Kotori’s mother is a driving force for her loneliness in the series.

Kotori has a passion for food. Since her mother is an acclaimed celebrity chef, she knows her way around the kitchen. However, her incredible fear of knives keeps her from enjoying that passion to the fullest.

Mundane Life

This is not an action filled series. It is not full of suspense or plot twists. There are not a lot of over the top “anime style” gags, and you won’t find many standard tropes clogging up the anime either.

Even among the slice-of-life anime often provided to fans, this show is something that might appeal to a “non-anime” fan due to its down to earth nature.

The series asks its viewers to sit down and enjoy a relaxing story. Sweetness and Lightning is episodic, and mundanity is literally everywhere.

This is a series that finds its excitement by characters interacting within the confines of every day life. Each struggle begins and ends with one key component; the family dynamic.

The story opens with the the facts of life at the Inuzuka home in plain view. Six months before the series begins, the love of Kōhei’s life passed away. He’s still grieving, and trying to make ends meet. As a single father, this is no small task.

Kōhei has no idea how to cook, and so he lives off of ready made meals, serving his daughter the same. These foods aren’t healthy. Often times, they aren’t even tasty. His wife had been the one to make the family meals, but with her passing it now falls onto him.

Kōhei fails to keep a largely stocked kitchen, and can’t prepared the dishes his daughter loves to eat most. Worst of all for him, his daughter often comments on this.

While still grieving himself, he feels incredibly guilty that he can’t live up the memory of her mother.

Tsumugi obviously misses her mom, but the concept of death is a foreign concept to the little girl. She can’t quite grasp it, and the way she mourns reflects this. Everything is in the little details for her. She complains that meals have become different now. She gets upset with the changes in her routine.

The things her mom used to do are now in her father’s hands, and Tsumugi has to cope with those changes. It’s all very age appropriate, and fits the narrative well. It never comes off as “too much”, and it isn’t overbearing either. There are plenty of scenes that follow her day-to-day life too, and the conflicts that she runs into. Both at school and at home.

To that point, I want to reiterate that Sweetness and Lightning is a very down to earth series. Tsumugi is a little girl, and she acts like one. She can be very bright and cheerful. However, like all small children Tsumugi throws her fair share of tantrums too.

She’ll pick at her food, or reject it entirely. She’ll babble nonsense, or fight back a little when she’s scolded by her dad.

She is a very accurate depiction of a child. If you don’t like children, this aspect could easily get on your nerves. Tsumugi is such a major character in the anime that you can’t avoid her. She has way too much screen time to be ignored.

Unlike other family style anime that may have a child in it, this series focuses on those complexities. Kōhei’s personal story is about the difficulties of being a parent. Tsumugi is her own unique character, and she does challenge her father.

Meanwhile, Kotori is an average teenage girl. Her passion for cooking aside, she can be a bit of a wallflower. She does have one close friend her own age named Shinobu. The character makes occasional appearances every now and then.

Other than that, Kotori mostly spends time on her own. As an only child of divorced parents, she’s used to being independent.

The only interesting character quirk she has is a terrible fear of knives. She managed to cut herself pretty badly as a child, and the fear of knives persists because of it. Other than that, Kotori isn’t very interesting on her own.

What truly uplifts Kotori as a character is the way she interacts with Tsumugi and Kōhei.

The student and teacher dynamic between them slowly shifts into one of friendship. At the high school, Kōhei maintains his position of authority. After school hours, he begins to treat Kotori as an equal.

The way that Kotori proves herself capable of assisting with Tsumugi helps to lessen the divide between them. As the series goes on, the way these two families merge help to fill the respective voids between them.

The Kitchen: The Heart of Every Home

Obviously, if you don’t like anime centered around cooking, you won’t like this. A vast majority of the scenes take place in the kitchen. It focuses on how meals are prepared, and the steps it takes to make a home cooked meal. Learning these basic steps remain the foundation of the series as a whole.

Kotori’s mother owns a restaurant, although it usually remains closed. Through a series of events, Tsumugi acts as the balm to eventually tie this odd trio together. The three of them end up gathering regularly at the restaurant, learning to make home cooked meals. They eat together and treat each other as a family.

As the characters spend more time together, old pains begin to lessen significantly. The two broken families start to redefine what it means to be a family in the first place.

The teacher becomes the student, perhaps the only actual plot twist in the show. Still, it’s no surprise to the viewer. Kōhei learns his way around a kitchen with Kotori’s help. She knows more than he does, and it’s good that the dynamic shifts here. It shows that the characters mutually respect each other.

With all of her mother’s recipes at her disposal, they work together to make each dish. Kotori finds comfort in spending time with Kōhei as well. She also gets along well with Tsumugi, eventually treating her like a younger sibling.

There is a saying that families are made around the dinner table, and this anime examines that. As time goes on, more friends join in on the nightly gatherings, forming strong bonds.

Although nothing inappropriate ever goes on between Kōhei and Kotori, the connection they build runs deep. You could choose to see something beyond a platonic friendship if you wanted. However, the anime only provides minor subtext for that. You’d honestly have to be looking for romance in places that it just isn’t.

Kotori’s emotional state shifts as the series progresses. Shinobu, her best friend even takes notice. She states that Kotori seems to be at her happiest whenever she’s cooking food and eating with the Inuzuka family. Kotori’s mother eventually meets Kōhei and Tsumugi. She finds herself grateful that her daughter found such good people to have in her life and encourages their time together to continue.

The changes over time for Kōhei and Tsumugi are also noteworthy. Kōhei becomes more capable as a father. When he finds himself lacking, Kotori helps to influence the way he deals with his daughter’s outbursts. Tsumugi becomes happier in general, and truly enjoys her time spent with Kotori.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t like anime with kids actually acting according to their age, skip it. Tsumugi is unavoidable as a character. She is a child, and she unequivocally acts like it.

On the other side of the coin, if you’re looking for a romantic series with a significant age gap between the characters, this is not it. You’re going to have to look hard for that subtext and frankly there are just better anime out there for that sort of romantic entanglement.

Sweetness and Lightning is about family, the cultivation of strong familial bonds, coping with loss, and overcoming grief. These are the themes that make the cooking aspect of the anime so powerful. They are the absolute core of everything, without fail.

Trying to take any of that out of context, for any reason, probably won’t serve you well.

The animation in the series is good, and holds up adequately enough. Like all anime that revolve around food, the animation sees a spike in quality when meals are displayed.

Some of them look good enough to eat, and appear more appealing than their real world counterparts.

The musical design is spot on, and enjoyable. Like the series itself, it doesn’t try to be over the top. It won’t stand out over the scenes, and I don’t find it memorable outside of that. The music only serves to be complimentary towards the series. The opening and ending songs are enjoyable for what they offer, but, they won’t make any of my top ten lists any time soon.

The anime leaves these two families as fast friends. There is subtext that the two might become one later down the line. However, that isn’t written in stone. The subject of romance itself is not something that is heavily addressed, and that’s fine. It shouldn’t be.

The anime never pulls a “Usagi Drop” moment either, and Kōhei’s friendship with Kotori is respectful at all times. It never crosses into questionable territory or inappropriate power dynamics.

Sweetness and Lightning is everything the title says. It is a very sweet series. The darkness that comes with it doesn’t overtake the series as a whole. Instead, the sadness is brief, but carefully included. The anime strives to tell a simple story, with a simple conclusion.

In the end, it provides strictly what it promises, and very little more.

It doesn’t necessarily fall into the “cute girls doing cute things” trope, and I wouldn’t call it a “healing” anime either. I didn’t feel refreshed or renewed after watching it.

The fact is that slice-of-life is its nearest comparison, but that’s a lackluster description of the series too. None of these categories do the show the justice it deserves.

Although I enjoyed it, and I would watch it again, for me it’s just a popcorn anime. The series is addictive in the moment, and its very easy to consume. The episodic nature makes it a joy to binge watch. This, coupled with the fact that it’s only twelve episodes long makes it an ideal choice during a lazy Saturday afternoon.

It’s a tame viewing experience. Those qualities make Sweetness and Lightning a top contender for family style anime of this nature.

I would say that Sweetness and Lightning is merely a story about life. It doesn’t go anywhere particular, and it doesn’t need to. There are very few anime that can put so much heart and soul into such a mundane story. That alone makes it worth a watch if you like shows that center around family dynamics.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.


If You Enjoyed This Content…

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