The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Season 1 Review –  A short and sweet Japanese drama

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 -|Review Score – 3/5


The Makanai is one of those manga-based dramas that feels warm and nostalgic, even if you aren’t familiar with the story. It captures the intricacies of maiko/geiko/geisha culture with an eye for simple details and an ear for everyday rhythms.

Kiyo might possibly be one of the most compassionate and considerate protagonists ever created. No matter the person or the problem, she always finds some way to look into their heart and help heal their hurting or anxiety, may it be through a bite of stewed eggplant or by just being there for them.

The show can be a little confusing to those who are not familiar with Japan’s geisha rules and traditions. Despite its lack of explanations, the series draws viewers in with its relatable characters, an unshakable bond between Kiyo and Sumire, and a warm sense of companionship.

From Kiyo’s joyous reaction to finding a tasty treat to staying up late to make Sumire a favorite meal, The Makanai is a reminder of the beauty of friendship and the comfort that ordinary dishes can give. It’s a peaceful and somewhat idealized portrait of a cloistered life and a gentle reminder of the power of simple acts of kindness.

The Makanai is very well made. There were numerous scenes depicted that would be extremely difficult to perform as an actor. tons of makeup and uncomfortable hairstyles, and long, single-shot scenes. Some scenes had a single shot with so many moving parts and people. One can only imagine the difficulty and effort that went into coordinating them. It seems like everyone involved, from the cameramen and editors to the actors, etc., did a wonderful job of making everything come together beautifully.

Even people who aren’t into intros might find the intro to this show refreshing. There is music, a light kind of humming, close shots of small details—the sip of soup, the draping of a kimono—and then each intro finishes with a close shot of a dish that Kiyo will end up making in the episode.

Seeing some of the detail that Kiyo tenderly and thoughtfully puts into each dish is something that at first might seem incredibly mundane, but the way it is produced makes it somehow beautiful. When Kiyo cooks, she creates literal comfort for the people in the show, and a little of that comfort transfers to the viewer as well.

It is not the kind of show that makes you feel like begging for another season or immediately going out and buying some kind of merch, but seeing the pure goodness of people and the beauty of the geisha way of life in such an artful and skilled way just leaves you with a positive, happy feeling. There are small bits of drama in the story, but overall, quiet, warm, peaceful, fuzzy, comforting, and hunger-inducing are all great words to describe this show.

But—yes, there is a but—there is so much more that could have been developed. Knowing more about Kiyo and why she is the way she is would have been good to know, for one. And it seems like the girls’ friend Kenta likes Kiyo, and Sumire likes Kenta, but that story is never told. It seems like the makers of this drama wanted to keep it short and sweet, as demonstrated by the number of episodes and their length.

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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