Since the death of his wife, Kouhei Inuzuka has been caring for his young daughter Tsumugi to the best of his abilities. However, with his lack of culinary knowledge and his busy job as a teacher, he is left relying on ready-made meals from convenience stores to feed the little girl. Frustrated at his own incapability to provide a fresh, nutritious meal for his daughter, Kouhei takes up an offer from his student, Kotori Iida, to come have dinner at her family's restaurant. But on their very first visit, the father and daughter discover that the restaurant is often closed due to Kotori's mother being away for work and that Kotori often eats alone. After much pleading from his pupil, Kouhei decides to continue to go to the restaurant with Tsumugi to cook and share delicious homemade food with Kotori.
Amaama to Inazuma follows the heartwarming story of a caring father trying his hardest to make his adorable little daughter happy, while exploring the meanings and values behind cooking, family, and the warm meals at home that are often taken for granted.
Growing up, I'm sure many of us have consumed one too many sugary sweets during our childhoods. We gouge down, smacking our lips, lapping up the remaining sticky stains that pepper our face, slurping the sweet syrup that coats our fingertips, savoring every last drop like sweet-tooth extraordinaires. But after awhile, that sugary delight leads to an unwelcome stomach ache, where we're left bloated and forced to endure the rightfully earned scorning from our parents:
"I told you not to eat all those sweets at once!"
as they march us off to the restrooms to brush away the very thought of any potential cavity taking refuge between
the crevices of our underdeveloped molars. It's the right of passage for us kids. For us mischievous sweet-tooth extraordinaires. Without the guidance of our parents to keep us within our bounds, however, we'd more than likely been sporting a smile with teeth weathered by decay.
Sweets are good, but overindulging in it often lead to this expected end result. And as you've undoubtedly figured out what I'm alluding to by now, Sweetness and Lightning suffers a similar fate. A show that barrages you with all the cuteness that the namesake would imply, and on that end, it certainly delivers, but doesn't offer enough levity to let it settle in. It's all dessert without dinner, every child's wildest dream in theory, but in practice, a very tiresome endeavor that turns our sweet-tooth rotten and our palates too soaked to ask for more. Sweetness and Lightning share in our delight for all things sweet, but unlike the reprimanding we received as kids growing up, when this show overindulges, there aren't any parents around to scold it. And for a show that centers around parenting, this becomes an issue that even the smile of a bubbly little girl couldn't dissuade you from taking notice of.
There really isn't much here to talk about, despite what the premise would have you believe. A man who's wife died having to cope with that pain of losing a loved one, while also raising a daughter, taking on all the motherly duties that he took for granted. All the while with food being used as a catalyst to show his parental growth, as well as a common means for both parent and child to bond, the story was practically gift wrapped to the creators. And yet, even with this hand-delivered theme of parental bonding and coping with lost being right in their grasp, very little of it went beyond the occasional reminder of a motherless home and dishes reminiscent of happier times in the father and daughter's life. Parenting is placed on the backburner for cooking lessons and food montages. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing if that's all you came looking for.
But there's also something else that the show's premise alluded to. Something that isn't as important as the themes it skipped over but still wanted nonetheless. And that was a cute mascot. And boy, did this anime ever deliver. Tsumugi is, with little dispute, one of the most adorable kid characters to have ever been conceived since the likes of Naru from Barakamon. Cuteness that transcends regulatory standards. Cuteness that hurts. Cuteness that bursts past the stratosphere. Tsumugi is cuteness incarnate. And dear I say it, the sole reason for this show's existence. Without Tsumugi, there wouldn't be a Sweetness and Lightning worth discussing. Which, quite frankly, is a double-edged sword if you were watching the show for something beyond its flagship character. For when it comes to everything else the show presents, the act of slouching in disinterest becomes far too common of a practice.
As far as the rest if the cast goes, there's really no other characters worth mentioning beside Tsumugi. Everyone else is simply introduced to feed off her energy. To say she's the star attraction would be an understatement. The very foundation of this show's existences is made impossible without her inclusion. She's the poster-child of Sweetness and Lightning. The very thing people will remember the show for, long after they forget the events of the show itself. It's the kind of character who's reputation would outlast the source material it's attached to. She's the Yuno Gasai. The Haruhi Suzumiya. The Holo. The Major Kusanagi. She's the very legacy that the source material will leave behind.
This isn't to say that the cooking the show presents each episode isn't interesting. Just that in the backdrop of a show that's taking things slow and steady, it's lost in translation to the little girl twerking on the floor, practicing her cooking dance charms to make the food delicious. And when you pair that with a mild-mannered man lost behind the frame of his glasses and unkempt bushy top that hides his soft-spoken expression... well, what you have here is a recipe for amnesia-inducing content.
If I was placed on the spot to recall the events of any given episode, the best I could sum up would be "they cooked food, Tsumugi acted cute, they ate and went back home." Not really the lasting legacy any creator would want now, is it? Whether premeditated or not, the show becomes one big blur when it repeats the same exact scenario every episode. Which brings us back to the pestering question, why is there no focus on parenting?
It's an aspect the show seems to hint at on several occasions, but whenever it gets too close to crossing that line between happy-go-lucky to something sobering, it skittishly pulls back and retreats to the kitchen to avoid confronting the elephant in the room. For what I could only surmise as the creator wanting to keep the same bubbly tone throughout, we're forced to only stand at the edge looking down at the canyon of parental responsibility and struggles of living life as a single parent. And as we as the audience step further away from the edge to resume the same routine that we've encountered throughout every episode since, it becomes apparent that we'll never take that plunge in the show's brief 12-episode lifetime.
But I guess for those that do love this carefree disposition, that isn't necessarily a bad thing at all. And if you're one who likes this more syrupy type of lifestyle, then Sweetness and Lightning will certainly deliver.
This routine cycle I spoke of sees Kouhei, the soft-spoken father and full-time teacher, befriend one of his pupils named Kotori, a girl who's constantly on pins and needles with a mannerism that's best described as a series of micro personality ticks and perpetual flustering. Together these two form a mutual friendship centered around their need to cook different kinds of dishes and keeping each other company. And the source of influence that they both gravitate towards is, of course, our poster-child Tsumugi. And as the synopsis states, the rest of their time is spent cooking tasty treats while Tsumugi entrances the viewer with a barrage of cute antics.
And as if the point wasn't made clear already, even the moments that don't focus on her just ends up surrounding her anyways. The creative team behind Sweetness and Lightning are simply obsessed over their gooey gumdrop of a mascot. And by the looks of it, so am I at this point.
Tsumugi is adorable and isn't even sexualized, which to any outsider of anime may seem like an odd thing to say about a child, but let's face it, Japan's obsession with sexualized lolis isn't something that just magically disappears when we don't pay attention to it. So in that sense, Tsumugi is a HUGE breath of fresh air when the only other option for kid characters tend to be morphing them into moe blobs or letting a gust of wind expose their pantsu for purposes I think Jared from Subway would take far too much satisfaction in seeing. So until the current social norm for child anime characters change,Tsumugi stands as an example of one done right.
And I'm sorry if I'm droning on and on about Tsumugi, but that's literally all the show leaves you to talk about. What was initially described by many as "Barakamon meet Usagi Drop", simply became one facet of that idea when all aspects of parenting, or progression for that matter, abandoned ship. And so, with nothing else worth addressing, it's time for us to part ways as well, as I bring this review to its final stop.
"Too much of a good thing" is the phrase that comes to mind when I reflect on this show. With a cute tyrant running rampant and a timid father trailing behind her, Sweetness and Lightning mostly became Sweetness and Murmur. Despite wanting the anime to take a leap into the parental aspect that it kept hinting at, I can't say I was displeased with what I got in return. If I had known that parenting wouldn't be an important aspect beforehand, I would have still watched the show for the sheer enjoyment of its meditative programming. Yes, it got a bit underwhelming and tedious at times. Yes, it could have done more to change up the formula. But, when all things were said and done, I still walked away with an adorable pint-sized bundle of joy that left me with a smile on my face. And at the end of the day, that's more than enough for me.
If slice of life, cuteness, delicious food, realism are on your bucket list the next anime you plan to watch, then think no more. Amaama no Inazuma (Sweetness and Lightning) is your answer. Taking the sweetness of slice of life and mix it with cooking accessories is just the tip of the iceberg. Believe me, this is a show that’s more than about food. It packs a satisfying and emotional ride that’s just too sweet to pass up.
Adapted from the manga of the same name, the series is essentially a slice of life story of daily adventures. I should mention though, the story is pretty
simple and straightforward. We got three main characters. There’s Inuzuka Kouhei, a widowed math teacher who is struggling to support his daughter and home. There’s Tsugumi, the overly charming kid with a picky taste at times. And finally, we got Iida Katori, a shy and lonely girl with a big appetite but bad cooking skills. So by formulaic standards, you might anticipate the food in the series to look atrocious. However, the show takes these characters and puts them into everyday life situations that brings the best out them. (and the food of course!)
It doesn’t really take long to get settled with the show. The first few episodes easily showcases the pattern of the story. Every episode in some way or form depicts the main characters cooking something delicious. However, there are also other segments that connects the characters’ daily issues. For instance, Katori is lonely and often feels like she doesn’t belong with others. However, her connection with Kouhei and Tsugumi brings out a more cheerful side of her. Meanwhile, Kouhei is also able to support Tsugumi better when the three of them work on making delicious food together. Tsugumi is also one of the most interesting characters. Being a kid, she lacks common sense at times like kids do. However, she also brings other characters together with her charming personality. From home to school, there’s something that’s hard to ignore about her. Whether it’s her adorable smile, curiosity, or innocence, Tsugumi is someone that you can’t help but want to make friends with. Her relationship with Kouhei is also very realistic with a strong daughter/father connection. Furthermore, Katori acts as a big sister to her. In one particular episode, she shows a very protective side after certain misunderstandings.
Despite the main cast getting most of the screen time, side characters such as Kouhei’s friend Yagi and Katori’s classmate Shinobu also occasionally joins in to spice up the story. Characterization is a strong emphasis and this show never falls short from that. The downside is that some of these side characters will be overshadowed by the main cast. However, this isn’t really a big issue as they still bring in the fun to the show especially when it comes to cooking.
So yes, after reading up to this point, you may be wondering if the show is worth the investment. After all, watching almost the same thing happen every episode may get repetitive. However, I can assure that not every episode follows a generic cooking session. Even in a small world that the how takes place in, there’s plenty to explore when it comes to the story. Tsugumi’s school life, Kouhei’s daily challenges, and character relationships are just a few to name. Furthermore, the comedy of the show is genuinely refreshing. And while the series lacks extravagant food styles like Shokugeki no Souma or Toriko, it makes it up for its strong realism. The author’s attempts at constructing the story by mixing in realistic drama, food gags, and character relationships really brings out the best of the series. As a manga reader, I am also satisfied with the adaptation despite some trending and rearrangement of the chapters.
TMS Entertainment may not be a powerhouse studio. However, they definitely got the understanding to make this series look great. The visual quality is colorful and character designs are realistic to portray characters of all ages. Tsugumi is especially noticeable for her innocence and childish features. Even her clothes symbolizes youth and appeals to younger audience. I also have to give praise for the food creativity in the show. From gyoza, seafood, donuts, etc, there’s all sorts of food you’ll witness. Plus, the way they make the food is in great detail every episode to leave nothing out.
You may not realize it too much but the soundtrack and music has a strong appeal in the show too. The OP and ED theme songs are charmingly decorative with a catchy tone. The atmospheric OST brings out a good degree of realism ranging from cooking sessions to simple conversations. However, what I really praise is the character voice mannerism in particular Tsugumi. Believe it or not, she is actually voice by a child as well. The talent Rina Endou brings into her character really stands out as she steps into the shoes of Tsugumi.
Amaama to Inzauma is a charming SOL family adventure that’s simply memorable. Every episode brings something new to the table that goes far beyond just food. Character relationships is something that I think most will find realistic between a child and their parent. Rather than relying on flashy food shenanigans, the show brings the story to life with its credible realism. I can’t say this enough but the show itself will almost always leave you hungry. In fact, the series experiments with more than just making the food. It shows how characters get together to build strong friendship and unity to accomplish a goal. And that is just quite something.
Being some sort of antisocial, misanthropic millennial fuckwad, I have this sort of mentality where I believe that reproducing humans is stupid, children are awful human beings that are completely useless and unlikable until the ripe age of “get a job you fucking bum”, and being a parent sounds like the absolute worst thing that could happen to me right now.
And therefore, I am here to tell you that Sweetness & Lightning, a slice-of-life about a father and his young daughter, is one of the best anime of the entire year.
Let’s get the overused joke of the season out of the way. “This show is
so incredibly sweet!” Yeah, that’s fucking great, but why? Well, Amaama comes with a lot of heart, with a concept that’s not only realistic but also relatable perhaps, as it’s about a dad struggling to care for his daughter after the mother passed away because reasons. The dad does his best, but his job makes him busy all the time, and the daughter is just a sweet little girl who does sweet little girl things like watch dumb magical girl shows, say weird things that make no sense, and hate eating vegetables. The dad, Kouhei, is a good and caring parent for the most part, but has one severe flaw, which is being unable to cook, so this show is about fixing that. But Amaama also has an optimistic view on this scenario, as Tsumugi, the daughter, will be sick of eating something and not finish a meal, but still play it off as being full because she understands that she doesn’t have any other options.
This is not a fierce melodrama. After watching the first episode, I had to consider that the show could’ve become intensely emotional very easy, but it also looked like it was just gonna be a happy little slice-of-life cooking anime with a parenting theme behind it, with only small amounts of drama sprinkled throughout. It’s the latter… and I’m okay with that, because the basics of the show are shown so beautifully in the first episode, which was what I believe to be the best pilot episode of the season. The small details in the personalities of Kouhei, Tsumugi, and Kotori, the things that are shown instead of told (such as the leftover meal thing I mentioned), all with a very charming presentation by TMS Entertainment.
The show does get pretty repetitive, I’ll give it that. The show does get pretty repetitive, I’ll give it that. I’ll give it that. And I do kinda wish there was a little more drama between Kouhei and Tsumugi to compensate for that, but personally I didn’t mind the repetition because I watched it weekly on Crunchyroll™, your #1 source for anime and drama, now teaming up with Funimation™ to bring you more than ever!! So, having just a small dose of this heavy cuteness each week made it very tame for me. It never got old, and I looked forward to it each new week, though when the episode ended I didn’t feel the insane need for the next episode. Even now that it’s over… eh. I’m alright with that. If they make another season, that’s cool. If they don’t, it was fun.
But back to repetitiveness as an issue. It is still an issue, a little bit, and I still think that more of the character drama would be nice, because that’s probably what I liked most out of the show. Episode 7 was particularly outstanding because it had a big conflict, with the cooking aspect of the show not having much of a prevalence as it usually does. But usually, the episode will have something going on with Tsumugi, whether it’s an event at school or she just generally wants something, and the rest of the episode will be about making a meal out of whatever can tie into that. Since it’s a slice of life, there’s no story progression to be had, so it’s something that needs good characters in order to keep me coming back.
...and it totally does. I think everyone would love to have a daughter like Tsumugi; even me, the 20-year-old deadbeat who wants to drop kick every child that runs around his workplace. I work at 2AM, WHERE DO THEY KEEP COMING FROM?! PUT YOUR FUCKING KIDS TO SLEEP!! FOREVER!!!!!!
That said, Tsumugi is very idealized because this show needs to be pleasant to watch. While she’s adorable and playful and excitable and kind (OR I GUESS YOU COULD SAY… SWEET!!! AHHAAHAHAHAHA), her only flaws are generally the same flaws a normal little kid would have. She get mad and cries over really petty things, like someone making the retarded assumption that she stole someone’s Play-Doh. That kid was an asshole. Fuck that kid. No pedo tho. She doesn’t like eating vegetables, and sometimes she’ll get inappropriately mad in public. I guess I don’t need to mention that she’s five years old, or somewhere around that age. Still, for the sake of fun, I don’t mind that she’s not entirely realistic.
Kouhei, on the other hand, is much more realistic, being a dad who struggles a bit to care for his daughter without his wife. Watching him try really hard and act optimistically was really endearing to watch, and the basics of his character make him easy to root for. Each episode has a good payoff when he finishes cooking and the characters eat and react to it positively. And Kouhei stays humble, he’s not an over-the-top character who bursts with excitement whenever something good happens. It’s just a normal, but very genuine happiness. Tsumugi’s the one who should be exaggerated.
Kotori is more of a third wheel in terms of development, as her role is to basically support Kouhei and Tsumugi with their cooking, and just generally be the best waifu of the season. (If any of you fucking say Rem I will shove your fucking head into a trash compactor where your shit waifus belong.) It’s still great to watch her, ‘cuz she’s like an emotional weirdo who really really really wants dat sensei D or something, and so she gets worked up over whatever dilemma either Kouhei or Tsumugi have. She’s basically a replacement mother here.
I also wanna bring up Yagi, even though he’s a very minor character who only shows up in about half the episodes. But it was always great to see him because he’s more mature and very deadpan. Since Amaama just oozes with love and peppiness and excitement, it’s nice to have a character that kinda balances everything out without taking away from the mood. He’s still a nice guy and goes along with whatever’s happening around him, he just presents a much more different mood. He’s also followed around by Shinobu for some reason, making them fun to watch as some weird couple.
With all of the light-heartedness of Amaama to Inazuma, TMS Entertainment compliments it with a softer color palette and consistently good animation; at no point did I think it was particularly outstanding, but it still features some well-timed sakuga with some character reactions and cooking. The overall design of the backgrounds and characters are about average, but also as good as you could want them to be. However, Tsumugi in particular has the best hair of 2016. There’s no contest to this, and if there is, you can shut it down right now because everyone has been absolutely blown the fuck out. I highly respect anyone with curly hair, especially if that hair is basically the size of their entire body. She’ll put that hair into twin-tails a lot of the time, which is especially cute, moe, kawaii, and other synonyms. Tsumugi’s entire design, especially with her childish expressions, just scream moe for the entire world to hear.
The sound is equally exceptional, being very soft and gentle with few instruments being used, and it’s implemented quite well. For instance, in the first episode, Kouhei and Tsumugi run through an alley, and it’s a rather intense scene for this show, but only an acoustic guitar is playing, and it sets the rather sad mood perfectly. The OP, honestly, isn’t my kind of thing to listen to, though I didn’t skip it much. It’s just another peppy, happy song that anyone could expect to hear in a sweet slice-of-life such as this. I like the ED, though, it sounds touching, hopeful, and slightly emotional, and the stylish illustrations to visualize it made for a beautiful cap on every episode.
The voice acting is pretty solid as well, with great performances all-around in the main cast. Tsumugi is especially great because she was actually voiced by a child, something that isn’t done enough. Granted, Rina Endou is a few years older, but she still sounded completely real. Tsumugi actually sounds like a goddamn child, and that’s fantastic.
Overall, I really loved Sweetness and Lightning and didn’t mind its few flaws. At its worst, it was a repetitive moe slice-of-life Shokugeki no Soma that was still fun in its own right, and at its best it was a phenomenal character story with some moments so sweet that you could rot out all of Willy Wonka’s teeth. ...oh wait, Gene Wilder died. Shit.
I most certainly would recommend this to anyone in the mood for a slice-of-life that they would only watch in small doses instead of binging in one day, and anyone who wants an anime with a parenting theme. Though I also wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for drama, because this doesn’t exactly have enough of it, even if it is good.
But I can’t end this review without leaving a very important message…………… Watch out for sharks!!
Story - 8
Art - 8
Sound - 8
Character - 9
Enjoyment - 9
Sweetness - PROTECT TSUMUGI
Overall - 8.25/10 (Range: 6-8.5)
Favorite episodes - 1, 7, 12
Favorite character - Kotori
Recommendation level - High
Imagine the most important person in your life, the one you love unconditionally, who takes care of you or your family, suddenly ceases to exist. In the grieving wake of the unexpected you cling to whatever is comforting, dreading beginning the next day without them. I have a friend who lost her fiancé to a car accident a few years back, and although I couldn't empathize appropriately, I provided the support that I could for the disaster that rocked her world. She was left to take care of her then three year daughter and pick up the pieces along the way. In light of the
initial struggle, life stumbles on and we learn that we can be happy again, even after something as devastating as this. When I heard about Amaama to Inazuma's story, I instantly felt a sinking in my stomach. It reminded me so much of her situation and I knew i had to watch it.
I want to take a minute to reset the somber tone I probably just created. While Amaama to Inazuma has its share of sad moments, this is a very endearing anime. The writers do a decent job of attaching us to the character's internal struggles through the medium of cooking. An added bonus is how much I personally enjoy the art of food... something I feel gets less serious attention in anime than it deserves. The average person will spend over four entire years of their lives cooking and eating, so it's only natural that it can be used to convey and heal our many issues in life. The relatively small cast bonds quite well over the course of the show and creates an enjoyable, episodic approach to everyday problems like socializing, raising children and managing loss.
The plot of Amaama is simple. A widower (Kouhei) taking care of his daughter is motivated to start cooking better when she questions why she never has a home cooked meal. This motivation, coupled with the use of one of his student's family restaurants helps Kouhei grow in both his cooking skills and relationship with his own daughter. That's pretty much it. This is not an anime you go into expecting a riveting or revolutionary story, or even a super engaging episode structure. It's best described as "charming", and you stay for the lighthearted atmosphere and Tsumugi's cute and cheeky personality. It's nothing to write home about, but its positivity and focus on food is what kept it afloat for me.
I was delighted by Tsumugi's adorable demeanor in the first few episodes. She reminded me a lot of Naru from Barakamon or Rin from Usagi Drop, and embodied the actions of a six year old girl perfectly. She isn't written to be more mature than her age, and responds appropriately to the various situations she's placed in throughout the series. This is something I've noticed anime directors having problems with in the past. She's naturally innocent, and even throws tantrums from time to time... something I would truly expect from a six year old. Turns out she also doesn't care for green peppers. Yep, sounds like a typical six year old.
However, as Tsumugi's charm began to fade (around episode 5 or so), the series began to trip over itself and become boring. The episodes began to become soothing and I actually found myself dozing off in the expanded cooking segments. Don't get me wrong, I love food and these segments were quite technically accurate, but it just didn't translate well into entertainment value. I actually thought I had watched the same episode a few times in a row due to their repetitive nature. I eventually found I enjoyed the non-cooking snippets more as the series went on, because they allowed the writers to focus on the relationship between Kouhei and Tsumugi more. It was for this reason I realized why shows like Usagi Drop are superior to Amaama to Inazuma. It's all about focus. While relationships were the focal point of the former, the cooking centered approach from the latter just didn't satisfy as much.
Aside from a few internal monologues and flashbacks, Kouhei is a rather bland protagonist. I guess it's only fitting, as Kotori's friend Shinobu pointed him out as "plain" near the beginning of the series. I feel Tsumugi's importance completely overshadowed him, and it would've been nice to get some development here as well. His relationship with Kotori was just as strange. I might be wrong in this assumption, but is it normal for a single, male teacher to be texting one of his high school students every day? There were even subtle instances of Kotori appearing to have feelings for him (which apparently are furthered in the manga). Subtle, but still there. A rather unnecessary addition to the show, and one I'm still confused about. Maybe I'm just overthinking it, since Amaama is otherwise as innocent a show as you'll ever watch. Zero fan service, and zero cursing. A nice change of pace for sure.
I didn't care for the rest of the cast in Amaama either. Kotori had a constant blush emblazoned on her cheeks, a testament to her nervous demeanor. She just didn't work as a character for me, but her strife was understood in regards to her parent's divorce and social anxiety. It's honestly more of a preference issue than actual character development. I'd actually argue that she receives the most out of any character in the show. Yagi and Shinobu are both rather one-dimensional characters that exist to propel the series forward. Both add slight comedic value, but ultimately aren't that important.
As I mentioned previously, the characters look to correct both their internal struggles and awful cooking skills by focusing on food. The writers absolutely nailed this aspect of the show. I only learned to properly cook a few years ago, and every bad tendency I had when I initially started was explored here. Overcooking meals, screwing up recipes and the like were handled well, and the actual dish preparations were quite accurate. It really made me hungry at times. The scene with Kouhei filleting the fresh caught fish was a great example of Japanese culture, since they basically devoured the fish raw O_o At any rate, I wish the same amount of effort would've been spent on other aspects of the series as well.
Since it is 2016, I would hesitate to call the art in Amaama "good". It's relatively below average compared to most of the shows being released today. Even though the scenes are mostly still and not animation heavy, there were still instances of lazily drawn character models from time to time. I did appreciate the amount of life drawn into Tsumugi's character, and the artists did a great job adapting from the manga. The OP was a real toe-tapper, with an upbeat, cute melody that welcomed you to the show. The ED also fit nicely with the tone of the series, with the rest of the background music emphasizing the current scene appropriately. Nothing flashy or over composed here. Tsumugi's VA (Rina Endou) ironically voiced the overly shy Hina from Barakamon and excelled in Amaama as well. I like to see younger characters actually voiced by kids.
If you love food as much as I do, then Amaama to Izuma is an anime you cannot miss based on premise alone. Throw in an endearing girl rivaling only Naru from Barakamon in terms of cuteness and you've got a casual, feel-good show that engages your heart more and your mind less. It's definitely got its share of issues, but it makes for a great time passer, an anime best enjoyed occasionally. I'd recommend it to fans of Usagi Drop and Barakamon, or someone looking for something lighthearted to cheer them up. I did enjoy Amaama to Inazuma, but it isn't my favorite of the season. If for no other reason, watch it to learn a thing or two about cooking... I know I sure did!
Crunchyroll announced at Anime Expo that they will be releasing anime on Blu-Ray and DVD -- that inevitably means they'll be releasing more titles than what's been announced so far. Here's a list of some anime we think they should release!