I discovered this manga just a couple of months ago, and it’s now one of my absolute favorites.
The setting is so unique, refreshing, and fascinating. You gradually learn about the lives of a group of passionate young maiko as they work and live together. Their level of hard work and determination is so great it can become even self-endangering at times, but it’s surely admirable no matter what.
The art is cute, pretty, and quite elaborate. I really appreciate all the detail that goes into how food and food preparation is shown. I find myself lingering on a lot of panels just to take it all
While cooking is definitely a highlight, the series truly shines where the main characters are concerned. The premise seems depressing at first (with Kiyo supposedly failing to follow her dreams), but it becomes apparent that it’s quite the opposite. Some may feel incredulous towards Kiyo’s quiet, easygoing reaction to her failure as a maiko, but I view it more as a testament to her character. She is spirited and mature enough not to let it get her down and instead finds happiness in being able to provide for others.
One of my favorite things is Kiyo’s relationship with Suu, one of her childhood friends. It’s so pure and heartwarming; they care for each other as though they were married. All of the characters are likable, and they live as a family. The affection they have for each other is palpable.
Of course, the series has its faults. As Kiyo’s cooking gets the most focus, it would be nice to see more of what the maiko’s work looks like. There is often talk of big performances and hours of practice, but it’s seldom shown. I also think some characters could use more screen time, especially since the chapters are fairly short.
But in the end, it is all so very charming… and healing. Reading it is like coming home to a warm dinner at the end of a hard day. It’s something I can look forward to.