Season 1 of The Makanai: Cooking for The Maiko House Is a Short Sweet Japanese Drama!
Even if you are unfamiliar with the plot, the manga-based drama The Makanai evokes a sense of cosiness and nostalgia. With an eye for small details and an ear for regular rhythms, it depicts the intricate aspects of maiko/geiko/geisha culture.
Kiyo is arguably one of the most sympathetic and thoughtful heroes ever made. She always finds a way to peek into someone’s heart and help them cure their hurt or fear, whether it be by giving them a taste of stewed eggplant or just by being there for them.
Those unfamiliar with the geisha customs and rules of Japan may find the show a little puzzling. The show engages viewers despite its lack of explanations thanks to its likeable characters, Kiyo and Sumire’s unbreakable friendship, and a cosy sense of community.
The Makanai serves as a reminder of the value of friendship and the solace that simple meals can provide, as seen in Kiyo’s exuberant response to discovering a delightful treat and staying up late to prepare Sumire a beloved dinner. It’s a serene, slightly idealised portrayal of a hermit’s life that serves as a gentle reminder of the impact of small deeds of kindness.
The Makanai is expertly constructed. There were many sequences that would be quite challenging for an actor to perform. extended, single-shot scenes, heavy makeup, and unflattering hairstyles. In some instances, a single shot contained numerous people and moving objects. The coordination of them must have been complex and time-consuming. Everyone who was involved, including the cameramen, editors, performers, etc., did a fantastic job of making everything come together flawlessly.
Even those who don’t like intros could enjoy this show’s introduction. Each introduction ends with a close-up of a meal that Kiyo would eventually prepare in the episode. There is music, a gentle kind of humming, close shots of little details, the sip of soup, and the draping of a kimono.
Even while some of the attention to detail that Kiyo carefully and thoughtfully puts into each dish may initially seem quite ordinary, the way it is made somehow transforms it into something lovely. For the characters in the show, Kiyo’s cooking literally creates comfort, and some of that warmth trickles down to the viewer as well.
The pure goodness of people and the beauty of the geisha’s way of life presented in such an artistic and skilled manner just leave you with a positive, happy feeling. It is not the kind of show that makes you feel like pleading for another season or running out to buy some kind of merchandise right away. There is a little amount of drama in the plot, but primarily, the show is quiet, warm, peaceful, cosy, comfortable, and appetite-inducing.
Yes, there is a but, and it might have been developed so much further. One thing that would have been helpful to know is more about Kiyo and the reasons behind her personality. The girls’ buddy Kenta appears to like Kiyo, and Sumire appears to like Kenta, but that particular tale is never revealed. The number of episodes and their length suggests that the creators of this drama intended to keep it brief and delicious.