Hello all. Today I review the Netflix show Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories. The original Midnight Diner, or Shinya Shokudo in Japanese, was a Japanese drama television series, which itself is based on a critically acclaimed manga of the same name. It came out in 2009 and ran for 3 separate seasons. I watched the first series a long time ago and was very happy with it. This show came out on Netflix on Oct. 21 just a week or so ago and is a sort of continuation of the show, although you don’t really need any prior knowledge to understand this series.
NOTE: There are some definitely inappropriate things in this show, and you can skip them if you want. Sometimes they can play relatively important parts in the context of an episode, and skipping those episodes is a viable option. There is no continuity kept between episodes so you don’t have anything to lose. Just a warning!
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories has a very simple premise. In the depths of Tokyo’s dark and dirty alleys, there is a small restaurant. This restaurant opens at midnight and closes at 7AM. The menu is simple, only a few, fairly basic traditional Japanese dishes. However, you can ask the owner for anything, and as long as he has the ingredients, he will make it for you. The show follows the goings on in this special diner as various regular and somewhat irregular customers make their way there in the dead of night.
This show fits into a category of Japanese media that is best labelled as, “human drama”, with a touch of cuisine for flavor. A large range of people, each with their own history, walks in the same way and just asks for something to eat. As it is a drama and things don’t just end there, we learn more about these people and who they are. Their histories’ are never as simple as they may seem, and we begin to see the power of people, their words and their stories, along with food, in shaping the world. And it all starts from the simple counter of a late night diner in the alleys of Tokyo.
It may seem contrived at points, and it definitely is. It’s a Japanese drama, what do you expect? However, it never strays into the territory of soap opera. You gain attachments to the characters as their contrived and complicated backstories are simplified into pure and relatable emotions. Sometimes, there are parts about ourselves that we don’t want others to see, and that we have yet to work out for ourselves. Sometimes, a man can be the toughest guy in the room but a child can show him what it means to have true resolve. Sometimes, you can fall in love despite the world telling you that it will never work out.
The stories that exist within media today are often unrealistic, and get to the point where the moral lessons that were once just under the surface are completely obscured by layer upon layer of superficial packaging. Sometimes, it is nice to step back and look at people struggling to get by on what they have. You can look at yourself and see that for all your mistakes and problems, there is something to keep going for. That is something that Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon just won’t teach you. I’m sorry, somebody had to say it.
Overall, I am really happy that this show got “rebooted” on Netflix and with English subtitles no less so that more people can enjoy it. As usual, thanks for reading and have a great day!
Just a stuffed bear and his pet dog.