We’re actually closer to the start of the spring season than winter, but Winter 2021’s last premiere finally hits our screens on February 25th. Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san is an NHK production, an NHK World one at that, and seems to be treated more as a mainstream series than a conventional anime. That said, the first episode on the whole felt a lot more of the moment than I expected, anime-wise.
Maiko-san Chi’s premiere was a bit of a good news/bad news scenario for me. The good, principally, is that the series isn’t the all-CGI visual atrocity I half-expected based on the previews. There’s certainly a lot of CGI here (increasingly J.C. Staff’s M.O., it seems) but it’s not universal, nor is it badly done. The backgrounds are nice enough, and while it’s clear there’s a lot of corner-cutting with the 2-D animation director Suzuki Youhei manages to stylize it enough to make it work. I also love anime set in Kyoto of course, a city I adore and have come to know pretty well.
Unfortunately, I found the story itself to be pretty much a snoozer. The maiko theme is interesting, but it plays as a pretty bog standard cute girls doing cute things show, at least so far. Hanazawa Kana as the dojikko failed-maiko-turned-cook Kiyo and M.A.O. as maiko starlet Sumire both deliver archetypical breathy cutie-pie performances too, which I’m sure is only what they were asked to do but doesn’t help matters. There’s only one mode in the premiere, it’s pretty clear what it is after five minutes, and the rest of the ep pretty much flatlines on that level.
Still, Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san is a pleasant enough diversion. The characters designs are cute (shocking that isn’t), and for me at least it’s fun to see places like the Shirakawa Canal Kaiga district depicted in quite lovely fashion. Maybe things will perk up a little when Kiyo’s love interest from her home town shows up – at this point anything to break the tonal monotony would be a step in the right direction. This looks like a pass for me but I’ll give it the three episode rule (probably) for Kyoto’s sake.