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The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Review – comfort food in TV form

January 12, 2023

The post The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Review – comfort food in TV form appeared first on Ready Steady Cut.

This review of the Netflix series The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Season 1 contains no spoilers.

Imagine, if you will, warming up over a hot meal, perhaps on a winter’s night when it’s dark and cold outside. The meal is up to you – pick something you love, something nostalgic, something that opens up great memories with every bite. Now, if you can, imagine distilling that experience into a TV series. In many ways you just imagined netflixit is The Makanai: cooking for the house Maiko.

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Season 1 review and plot summary

Over the course of nine episodes, the writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters) creates a whole slice of life drama using family meals – buying them, cooking them, eating them – as a metaphor for all sorts of things, but most importantly to create a warm atmosphere that gives you a warm connection to the characters who ‘re indulge in the dishes. Each title dwells on a close-up of a meal that features in the episode to follow, setting the tone and, to be frank, most of the content for the next episode.

That’s the thing, you see – it’s not really a show about its plot, although there is an overarching story about two 16-year-old best friends, Kiyo (Nana Mori) and Sumire (Natsuki Deguchi), but about the daily atmosphere of the house where the girls train to become maiko, or apprentice geisha. It’s an intimate, crowded setting, and while little happens there in a dramatic sense, it’s rich in detail and character if you’re on the lookout. Whether that’ll be enough for some viewers will obviously depend, but “your mileage may vary” likely underestimates how much wealth Kore-eda was able to imbue here.

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The title comes from the clumsy Kiyo who was nearly kicked out of the program until she showed enough culinary ambition to become the traditional chef, or makanai, of the house, which sets her apart somewhat from the rest of the girls. — especially Sumire, whose growth in the traditional role helps to be part of the season’s arc — and her dishes reflect what they feel and experience. Kiyo fits into the role so well that it’s easy to imagine having him in your day-to-day life, and his relationship with all the girls – although, again, especially Sumire – is the main source of this. series heat.

And The Makanai is about this almost incredibly healthy friendship more than the manifestation of a long-standing tradition in today’s Japan. The writing cleverly assumes you’ll be reasonably familiar with this world through cultural osmosis, and if you’re not, you can figure things out on your own. This freedom of exposition and plotting allows us to settle in much better, and the organic way we learn who these people are – like the resentful Ryoko (Aju Makita), the daughter of the mother of the house, Azusa (Takako Tokiwa) – is refreshing in a streaming landscape that is all about reinterpreting the same genre staples.

The only downside to this approach is that the show can sometimes feel also islander, and sometimes you may wish he had more in mind about how a traditional art form fits into a contemporary context. There are hints in that direction, but never anything concrete, and I can’t help but think there was a more incisive comment to make here that falls by the wayside.

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East The Makanai: cooking for the house Maiko Well?

Ultimately, though, there’s a sheer sense of warmth to this show that will inevitably win you over and comfort you. It’s very well crafted and deeply reassuring in its portrayals of love, friendship, tradition and the power of a good hearty meal – and anything that justifies my own love of food is fine with me.

What did you think of The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Season 1? Comments below.

You can watch this series with a Netflix subscription.

Further reading:

  • The Makanai: cooking for the house Maiko The ending explained
  • Will there be a season 2 of The Makanai: cooking for the Maiko house?
  • The Highest Rated and Best Netflix Series.

The post The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Review – comfort food in TV form appeared first on Ready Steady Cut.