After the death of his wife, high school math teacher Kouhei Inuzuka is left to care for his young daughter, Tsumugi. He does his best, but his busy schedule and poor culinary skills limit them to eating convenience store food separately. However, one day, his daughter expresses an interest to eat together after talking to one of his students in the park, Kotori, who deeply enjoys food. He rushes over to the restaurant owned by the student’s mother, but she is not there. While Kotori tries her best to cook for them, her skills are lacking. However, together, Inuzuka-sensei, Tsumugi, and Kotori learn to expand their cooking skills.
Heart-warming and stomach-rumbling, Sweetness and Lighting proved to be a highlight in a rather bland anime season. Are you hungry for food, parental love, or otherwise? Well, give these anime recommendations a try.
For Fans of Food
Gourmet Girl Graffiti
Ryou Machiko lives alone while going to art school. While so likes to cook and loves to eat, recently she has found her food tastes terrible. One day, after a call from her aunt, Ryou discovers her cousin Kirin will be staying with her on the weekends. Soon after her arrival, Ryou learns the important lesson that food tastes better with friends.
Food brings people together. That is the central theme that unites both Gourmet Girl Graffiti and Sweetness and Lightning. In both series, food is used as a catalyst to bring family and friends together where they bond and strengthen their relationships. Both feature heavy emphasis on enjoying the food as well as detailed instructions on how to prepare it.
Yuugo Hachiken is studious and hard-working, but is tired of trying to live up to modern society’s high academic expectations. So for high school, he decides to go to agricultural school in Hokkaido, thinking it will be a breeze. Oh, how wrong he was. Yet, he is about to learn how much more rewarding the work is.
While Silver Spoon has more of a focus on where food comes from, like Sweetness and Lightning it does have some moments where it is cooked and enjoyed. Both shows feature a slowly paced slice of life story about food, featuring light hearted comedy with some drama mixed in.
Kokonotsu Shikada has aspirations of becoming a manga artist, but his family wants him to take over their prestigious sweets shop. He refuses until one day a girl comes and wants to make his father work for her family’s corporation. He agrees, but only if she can convince Kokonotsu to take over the shop.
Although a lesser known food anime, Dagashi is a food anime none-the-less. While Sweetness and Lightning deals more with dinner dishes, Dagashi is all about sweets. However, they both maintain strong stances on savoring the dishes presented to them.
For Fans of Unorthodox Families
Daikichi Kawachi is a 30-year-old bachelor with a decent job, but no purpose in his life. When he returns to his family home for his grandfather’s funeral, he finds out that the old man had an illegitimate daughter. With his other relatives not wanting to take in such a child, Daikichi steps up and takes her home. From that day onwards, his hard new life as a parent begins.
When it first premiered, audiences thought Sweetness and Lightning was the spiritual successor to Usagi Drop, and then it turned out to be more about food. Regardless, while Usagi Drop deals with more serious topics of death and family, both it and Sweetness and Lightning are about single fathers trying to do their very best for their kids.
Poor Sisters Story
After their mother dies and their father ran off to escape his gambling debts, sisters Kyou (15) and Asu (9) are left to fend for themselves. While Kyou balances studying and part-time jobs to make ends meet, Asu takes care of household chores. Together with a little help from their neighbors, the two siblings do their best.
While the major difference between Sweetness and Lightning and Poor Sisters Story is one present parent, both tell poignant stories about family life. Both stories feature familial bonds being strengthened over meals since that is really the only time that the characters in both shows can spend time with one another. However, Poor Sisters Story is a little more dramatic then Sweetness and Lightning.
I Love You, Baby
Kippei Katakura is your typical high school playboy. However, his flirty high school life comes to an end when he is tasked with caring for his 5-year-old cousin after his aunt suddenly runs off. Although he has no knowledge of child care and a lack of responsibility, both he and his cousin must adjust to their new chaotic life.
Both anime series feature a man who doesn’t have the best parenting skills being left with a young child. However, Inuzuka in Sweetness and Lighting really does try his best to do right by his daughter all the time, while Kippei has to learn responsibility via caring for a young child.
Listen to Me, Girls. I Am Your Father!
Segawa Yuta is now a freshman in university. Since a young age he was raised by his sister Yuri, but now she is married with a family of her own. One day, Yuri and her husband decide to go on a trip and ask Yuta to look after their three daughters. When Yuri’s plane goes missing, the three children are at risk of being divvied up among relatives. In order to prevent this, Yuta decides to step up and care for them on his own.
This anime is essentially what you would get if you combined Usagi Drop’s loss of family with Sweetness and Lightning’s light-hearted fun and subtracted the food emphasis. While it dips its toe into the dramatic side of the situation, mostly it is a light-hearted anime about an unusual family.
For Fans of Heart-Warming Fluff
The Flying Witch
15-year-old Makoto Kowata is a witch, but her skills in it leave something to be desired. To further train her craft, she moves to rural Aomori, Japan to live with her cousins. This area, rich in nature, is the perfect place to commune with nature and hone her craft.
Colorful, peaceful, and full of laughs – that is what these two anime series with very different plots have in common. They are both about cherishing the precious small moments in life and seeing the beauty in things like nature and food.
After losing his temper on a critic, renowned calligraphy artist Sieshuu Handa is exiled to the Goto Islands by his father for a period of self-reflection. There he seeks to find new inspiration for his art, but finds that his neighbors and some neighborhood kids keep getting in his way.
There’s a rumor going around that Tsumugi and Naru are essentially the same kid. Both are energetic, demanding for attention, and have just the right amount of weird to them. They are also responsible for a metamorphosis in the older male characters in their life.
Have your own recommendations for anime series like Sweetness and Lightning? Tell us about it in the comments section below.