In Burn the House Down, Makiko Mitarai is Anzu’s stepmother who is suspected of setting Anzu’s family home on fire. Kyoka Suzuki plays the role of Makiko.
When Anzu’s family home burned to the ground, everyone, including Anzu’s mother, Satsuki, thinks that it was Satsuki’s fault, which leads to Osamu, Anzu’s father, divorcing her mother.
However, Anzu has her doubts. She sees Satsuki’s close friend, Makiko, smiling as their house is burning down. Anzu then starts suspecting that Makiko is the one responsible for the fire, not her mother.
A carefully created illusion
After the death of Makiko’s husband, she is left to raise her two sons all by herself. Her life is not easy, and she works all the time. It is when she meets Satsuki and befriends her that she realizes that there is so much that she does not have.
Satsuki is married to a rich man and has everything that she could possibly want. Makiko envies her. Makiko’s desire for a better life leads her to imitate Satsuki; she starts dressing like her, talking like her, and even creates an online persona, Aliza-san.
Makiko is able to live the life that she desires by pretending to be Aliza-san. Her blog is liked by many, and her followers organize fan meets. Makiko steals Satsuki’s clothes and jewelry and shows up at these fan meets as Aliza-san.
After Osamu and Satsuki’s divorce, Makiko gets close to Osamu by comforting him and bad-mouthing Satsuki. She knows that he wants a wife who would love everything about him, and she is ready to do that if it means that she will get to live a luxurious life.
Makiko marries Osamu and gets Satsuki’s life, while Satsuki is left to raise her two daughters on her own. 13 years later, Makiko becomes a successful model whose public life is full of lies.
All she cares about is her image, which is that of a woman who is perfectly capable of managing her career along with being a homemaker.
She gets validation from her followers on social media. To maintain this image, she secretly hires a housekeeper who is none other than Anzu, who adopts a false identity and returns to Makiko’s life to expose her misdeeds.
However, Makiko still feels like Satsuki’s shadow is following her around whenever she is at home. She is paranoid about losing this life, so she takes extreme measures, like spying on her husband as well as her son, in order to control everything.
A mother’s fears
Anzu wins Makiko’s trust and becomes her manager, only to betray her later on. She gets evidence against Makiko that proves that Makiko used to steal Satsuki’s things and pretended to be Aliza-san.
Makiko refuses to admit that she was the one who started the fire that day, but she finally confesses when she sees her older son, Kiichi. However, it is later revealed that Makiko only confessed to save her son.
Years ago, Kiichi had figured out that she was stealing from Satsuki and asked her not to continue that. Makiko agreed and went to the Mitarai house to return the stolen things, where Yuzu saw her in her Satsuki’s closet.
Makiko forgot to return one of Satsuki’s cardigans, but she never got to put it back in its place, as that very day, the Mitarai house was set on fire. This made Makiko smile in relief, as she could no longer be accused of stealing.
Soon, Makiko came to believe that the fire was Kiichi’s doing because he wanted to save his mother. Kiichi tried to discuss the matter with her, but she made him promise to keep this a secret.
Makiko still believes that Kiichi committed arson, and that is why she is overly protective of him. Kiichi cannot go out in public and stays locked in his room. Makiko never asks him to do anything and plans to look after him for as long as she can.
The ends of lies
Even after Makiko confesses, she refuses to lose everything that she has worked hard to achieve. She bullies Osamu into siding with her and not divorcing her.
Despite her best efforts, one scandal after another leads to her losing control. Her life falls apart when Satsuki regains her memories and hacks into Makiko’s social media account to show the world that her life is full of lies.
For someone who derived happiness from online validation, Makiko loses everything overnight. Osamu also accuses her of arson and gets the police to reopen the case.
Makiko blames herself for ruining her son’s life. To save Kiichi, Makiko is ready to take the fall, but the truth comes out eventually and neither of them is found guilty.
Anzu also realizes that Makiko is not a companionless and cunning woman as she had believed. She is just a weak person like so many others.
Makiko and Osamu then get divorced, as the two of them never loved each other. Makiko does not give up on her career and tells her fans that she will continue to be Makiko Mitarai for as long as they support her.