My last post for 2016 is going to be short and sweet. And while I make it a policy to review content that falls into the category of Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Anime, I’m making an exception for this Netflix original series.
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories has stolen my heart, and I think you readers might enjoy it, too, if you haven’t seen it already. Based on a long-running manga series in Japan, it’s a very simple 10-episode show about a Tokyo entrepreneur, known only as “Master,” who runs a small diner that’s open from midnight to 7 a.m. He caters to an eccentric bunch of people, and it’s the stories of his customers that he delves into, often starting them off with an iconic dish, from egg tofu to corn dogs. Master (played by Kaoru Kobayashi) is never the hero of these stories, but his sympathetic ear is enough to get his customers to see things differently. Their troubles range from attempts at romance to issues with being a parent to the rise and fall of celebrity status.
I love this show more than words can say. The Japanese-language dialogue has a fantastic rhythm, and the actors in each episode are all quite good. I’m also enthralled every time we cut into Master’s kitchen for a glimpse at the dishes he makes. Each episode even ends with a short spiel on how to cook a certain dish. It’s just so charming.
From the moment I started watching, I knew why I liked this show so much. It reminds me of the manga and anime series Bartender. Master isn’t exactly Ryu Sasakura, but they share the same style that encourages their customers through their particular crises. The live-action show is, much like the anime I watched, a good example of the iyashikei genre that’s prevalent in Japan. There’s conflict and drama, but nothing like you’d see in a typical hour-long Western show. It’s more about the quiet, comfortable atmosphere of everyday stories, and we need more of that in the world today.
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories is available to watch on Netflix.