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Sweetness & Lightning
Episode 8

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Sweetness & Lightning ?
Community score: 4.3

Whereas the past few installments have slightly broken the mold, this week's Sweetness & Lightning represents a return to form. No secondary player gets to spend time in the kitchen, nor is the episode's overarching story particularly unique. This isn't to say episode 8 is bad by any means—it's just very by-the-books. The first half sets up this week's featured dish, while the second half is dedicated to documenting its preparation. Sweetness & Lightning is a textbook example of a formulaic show, but in its latest outing, the series sticks too close to its comfort zone. On the other hand, if it ain't broke…

In honor of Parents Day at Tsumugi's daycare, Kohei surprises everyone (especially Kotori) by taking half the day off. After chatting with some of the mothers, Kohei quickly discovers that his daughter's schoolbag isn't quite up to snuff. In addition to being fairly worn-down, the bag is sporting an obvious stain. However, since it was a gift from her late mother, Tsumugi isn't particularly keen on the idea of upgrading. Feeling kind of guilty for even bringing up the idea, Kohei offers to prepare one of Tae's signature dishes for Tsumugi, who decides on squid and yam stew—making it the next meal the Inuzukas cook with Kotori.

Although this week's cooking segment is nothing special (other than Tsumugi adorably reaching a near-epiphany about life by gazing into the eye of a dead squid), the first half of the episode features some interesting character moments. Kotori being driven to tears by Kohei's unexplained absence is certainly endearing, though it does suggest that she's become too attached to the Inuzukas. When Mikio first arrived on the scene, it was pretty obvious that he harbored a crush on Tsumugi, but Tsumugi's reluctance to return his feelings was less obvious. Little boys in fiction often get away with bullying their crushes because they “really” care for them deep down, so it's refreshing to see this routine backfire for a change. That said, Mikio may have been this week's MVP. His attempts to elicit a laugh from Tsumugi are both cute and believably childlike, and his eagerness to share some clay with his beloved (after previously accusing her of stealing clay) is a nice way to bring his character arc full circle.

The idea of embracing something from the past while putting your own spin on it really suits this show. Tsumugi and Kohei are reeling from Tae's loss, but as they discover, keeping her memory alive doesn't have to entail punishing themselves. Covering the schoolbag stain with an adorable patch and infusing the stew with Megumi's flourishes represent solid compromises for the Inuzukas. Striving to keep things exactly the same wasn't working out well for anyone.

This week's Sweetness & Lightning once again showcases Kohei's admirable parenting. First, he's upset about letting Tsumugi's bag become stained, but after realizing how attached to it she is, he goes out of his way to find a solution that will make her happy. After the uncomfortable fight the Inuzukas had last week, it's relieving to see everyone in better spirits.

Rating: B+

Sweetness & Lightning is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.

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