Midnight Diner was, before the Japanese TV show in 2011 and the Korean show in 2015 and the Chinese TV show in 2017 and the Netflix show now, a beautifully crafted manga. Shinya Shokudō or Midnight Diner was written by one of my absolute favourite authors, Yarō Abe. For an indie author and indie manga, it won a lot of awards in Japan. But I am not writing about all the deserved awards or the all the live action adaptations. I am writing about the story; the beautiful characters; and that awe-inspiring yet humbling and joyous storytelling of Yarō Abe.
What makes the manga so special and dear to me, is witty compassion that marks every issue. The Master has never judged another human being, he will feed you and listen to your problem without judgement. They do not outcast anyone here, they may judge your food or your order, but never you. There are arguments about soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce but all mistakes are welcomed. The characters are so flawed and fragile, it is painfully beautiful. The story moves along like clockwork, but not machine-like, more like a heart. The story just beats on with whimsy and sincerity. There is no heavy-handed preaching or forced happy endings or conclusions, there is only people with their universal struggles and the food they seek comfort in.
And at the heart of this is a truth that makes us all love the Master. Truth is, he knows that no matter who you are or how broken you feel, there is always one place you are welcomed, you’ll get something to eat, something to warm you up and comfort you. And that’s about as much as we could do for each other, we cannot solve everyone’s problems or make life without troubles. All we could do is listen and share some noodles into the night. I think that this kind of company can make any night fly by and see that all your troubles just waft away. It is the grace and dignity with which the Master pours out this glimpse of sublime happiness that endears him most. I hope for nothing more than for each of you to read one issue of Midnight Diner, and to be as cheered up and moved as I was by this portrayal of a brittle and hungry humanity just looking for a moment to share with each other. At the very least, I wish that you have something to eat after this manga makes you very very hungry.