Rating (4 out of 5)
Summary: “Midnight Diner” (Netflix) is a 10 episode season consisting of 23-minute stories. The length of a sitcom, but it isn’t a sitcom. These are heartfelt stories about people, families, and love. There are no actions scenes to labor over; there are no huge melodrama scenes. Simply people connecting with people. The stories are simple, but the stories elegantly evoked emotions.
The relationship with food was intriguing. Like “Ratatouille,” the food invoked fond memories of childhood. Other times, the food was a symbol of good luck or honoring a couple’s first meeting. I thought the intermingling of different foods and diverse customers (occupation and age) helped the character of the diner and the show. Also, showing the cooking tips at the end was a fun way to end the episode.
Fear not, the whole episode doesn’t occur in the diner, and it isn’t always the same characters. Master (Kaoru Kobayashi) is always there to prepare the food. The subtlety of his emotions is fabulous, especially relative to most of the more boisterous patrons. The patrons add a little levity here or there. When the two guys sign the pop start song, you couldn’t help but grin.
There are only two downsides for me. One, this is subtitled, which means I have to pay attention. The dog, the kids, all the other distractions must be addressed first before enjoying the show. Secondly, characters only have 23 minutes to fall in the meet, fall in love, have issues, and resolve. Sometimes, there is a leap made to the next point in the story. Go with it, and you are good, but it does feel rushed at times.
I look forward to the next 4 seasons and will be watching them soon.
Plot: A diner is open from midnight to 7:00 am. Each episode is about a different patron.