Starting rather late on most of the summer 2016 anime titles this season, Amaama to Inazuma or Sweetness and Lightning is one that I immediately latched onto. Besides having a small cast of endearing characters and sincere heartwarming moments (most in part due to Tsumugi’s cuteness) as its biggest strengths, I do believe that the cooking segments are also kind of unique as they focus more on the preparation aspect to a degree. Of course, with many viewers quick to call it another “cooking themed” series, I do also believe that those portions perfectly illustrate one major idea that links people together.
By and large, I think that most people around the world will agree that sharing a meal occupies and has a certain inherent social value. Whether it be with family, friends, coworkers, or even complete strangers, mealtime fosters fellowship and allows for more organic and fluid conversations to happen much like drinking or social games would spur on. Giving people time to decompress after work, nourishing the mind and body, the transmission of ideas and stories – all qualities and experiences expressive of what food can do but also believes that it extends to preparation as well. Whereas eating is a participatory action, that of cooking is a more involved: choosing the right ingredients, cooking method, serving style, and in some cases, working in close proximity with those around and engaging in communication. As a child, I remember loving to help my mother prepare the food and set table as well as curiously asking questions about things pertaining to it. Even though I was more like Tsumugi and had a tiny abit of picky eater in me hoping to influence the menu a bit by being in the kitchen, it was a great bonding experience and learning opportunity that I wouldn’t have otherwise and look back on it today with fond memories. Of course, just like how Kohei and Kotori are learning how to cook, they are also rediscovering old memories, creating new ones, and becoming a closer knit group because of it.
Today, with more people in developed nations having to work longer hours in order to maintain the satisfactory lifestyles they wish to lead, so to do convenient options for quick sustenance such as fast food and microwaveable meals becoming more prevalent. Being so short on time, it is hard to prepare a decent meal let alone sit down to eat one with others, but believe it is well worth the effort not only for social bonding, but being more mindful of what actually goes into the volatile vessel we call the human body. Admittedly, seeing the characters aimlessly fumble around in the kitchen only to create tantalizing meals just by following the recipe alone has rekindle a love for cooking I had, yet also makes me more appreciative of those that take the craft on as a profession. And while eating certain foods or smelling aromas might be evocative or evoke certain memories or feelings, there is a lot research suggesting that the tactile sense is just as strong when comes to recalling past experiences and building new lasting ones such as cooking can do. However, where preparing meals together and bringing back forgotten memories is a central theme in Amaama to Inazuma, I think that seeing those character gather around the table together and bonding over it is another aspect entirely. Again, with most developed parts of the world divorcing themselves from the family dinner due to multiple reasons, seeing those characters together as friends and family does kind of make me yearn to have dinner more often with my own other than the once year gatherings of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a few other miscellaneous holidays. Seeing Tsumugi’s face light up as she talks about her day or digs into a delicious meal is sort of heartwarming – reminding me of my two nieces that share the same amount exuberant energy. Nonetheless, whether those opportunities presents themselves or not, I can most certainly say that the series has got me reinvigorate to try some new recipes have been meaning to and has a become a fast favorite as the summer anime season begins to come to a close.