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Something to watch tonight: Thursday 7 September
The Makanai (Kore-eda, 2023) is streaming on Netflix
We tried this one because we are fans of Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters, Our Little Sister, Still Walking, I Wish, After the Storm, etc.) and couldn’t quite believe that he would produce a modest little Netflix series while all the festivals were waiting for a blockbuster feature!
It turns out that The Makanai is not that modest and requires no apologies. If you are a fan of Kore-eda’s work you will be more than satisfied, and if you are coming in to his work cold, you will be delighted.
Based – as so many modern Japanese stories are – on a popular manga, The Makanai is the story of two friends who are determined to make a life in the world of maiko (the Kyoto version of geisha).
Sumire (Natsuki Deguchi) turns out to be a natural – a star in the making – but best friend Kiyo (Nana Mori) is more at home in the kitchen of the sorority-style house where the young trainees live.
So, we get introduced to a tradition that at first seems impenetrable but – over nine short and delightful episodes – we get to understand, appreciate and love.
And, thanks to Kiyo’s skills in the kitchen, the series is also a beautiful introduction to Japanese (often regional) food and ingredients at the same time.
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I haven’t felt grief at the end of the series quite this badly for a while.
We watched the whole thing in a less than a week and then sat around wondering what could possibly be next.
The soundtrack scratches that itch, I suppose, so I bought it and love it.
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