Midnight Diner 2 could be described as, an examination of Japanese feminine life and the society surrounding them.
Midnight Diner 2 (続・深夜食堂) Synopsis
As like the first movie, Midnight Diner 2 is an anthology of three stories, each featuring a Japanese woman at a different stage of life.
- Yakiniku Set Meal: Noriko is an unmarried editor with the strange pastime of walking about Tokyo in mourning clothes when she’s stressed. Naturally, her peculiar habit attracts all sorts of questionable attention.
- Grilled Udon: Convivial widow Seiko worries for her son Seita, whom she deems unable to look after himself and ill-equipped to take over their family soba noodle shop. She is aghast when one day, Seita announces his desire to marry a woman 15 years his senior.
- Tonjiru Set Meal: Elderly Yukiko ends up at the Diner after being scammed. Her strange behaviour soon leads Michiru, who takes her in, to suspect the widow is suffering from dementia.
Like the first movie in 2015, Midnight Diner 2 was directed by Matsuoka Jōji, and so it shares the same whimsical, serene approach of its predecessor. In fact, this sequel is so similar to the first movie, you likely wouldn’t notice if both shows are screened back-to-back. For that reason, I wouldn’t repeat what I enjoyed about the storytelling style. I’d just invite you to read my review for the first movie.
To those comments, I’d add that there feels to be a vague feminist touch in this sequel, with all three stories, one way or another, hinting at the gender inequality still prevalent in Japan. No heavy-handed approach here, and in the case of Tonjiru Set Meal, the movie even seems to state the elderly protagonist herself largely earned her karmic retribution. That said, all three tales offer succinct insight into the struggles of Japanese women at different stages of their lives. I should add a veiled defeatist tone also hangs over the first and third conclusions. For some viewers, this might be displeasing, but I felt it reflects what many Japanese women still have to endure in today’s Japan.
Further on Tonjiru Set Meal i.e. the third story, certain elements of the “revelation” do not tie up, but more importantly, or should I say impressively, this story is still completely neutral. In productions by other East Asian countries, say Hong Kong, there is sure to be some sort of extended morality preaching, if not an overly maudlin ending.
Midnight Diner 2 didn’t do these, Midnight Diner 2 didn’t do these, instead, opting to end on the same note the tale began with. Again, this might not be to the liking of some viewers; I wouldn’t be surprised if some audiences expect a harsher ending.
As far as that is concerned, I’ll just say, it was a realistic way to end IMO. Naturally, I had hopes for something more dramatic too but given the realities of life, in Japan or elsewhere, what ultimately happened for Yukiko is to me, the most possible outcome there could be. To wish for more would border on naïve.
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