Shinya Shokudo aka Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories is now on Netflix! I am so excited about this and have been savoring each episode as though I were a child slowly going through Halloween candy, hoping it never runs out.
Midnight Diner is originally a manga book series by Yaro Abe that has been running since 2006. It was made into a live-action drama series, with its first season coming out in 2009, its second in 2011, and third in 2014. In 2015, a live-action film was released as well.
The show chronicles the happenings of a modest neighborhood diner in Shinjuku run by one man, Master, who serves his customers from midnight through dawn. All of the episodes are self-contained, with unique story-lines filled with at times somber, often silly subject matters. The clientele is a cast of quirky regulars and troubled visitors who Master looks after with subdued and gentle care. His menu is short – just tonjiru (miso soup with pork, daikon, and gobo) – but he'll make whatever his customers are craving, as long as he has the ingredients.
Played by actor Kaoru Kobayashi, Master holds down the fort nightly and watches the drama unfold from behind the counter. Each episode is named after a certain dish he is serving, which works as a theme throughout the 30-minute segment. Many famous actors from Japan make cameos throughout the series, like my faves Mamiko Ito and Ken Mitsuishi, and babe Joe Odagiri.
Like Kodoku no Gurume and Bartender, Midnight Diner has a cult following in the manga and food world – I'm pleased that Netflix has picked this up for the masses worldwide. I have a personal fantasy of opening my own diner and bar someday, and I hope that I would have regulars just like the ones in this show, who show up night after night.
Netflix released 10 episodes of Midnight Diner on October 21 in 190 countries, including Japan! The episodes comprise season four of the series, of which Netflix secured exclusive rights.
Once you're finished watching season one, go back and watch seasons one through three of Shinya Shokudo on Anime TV, with subtitles. Just be sure to savor each episode!