Going down the Netflix rabbit hole, after I finished watching Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, the immediate suggestion by the algorithm was a show called Samurai Gourmet. Upon watching the preview; not like I had any choice, because Netflix forces previews upon you like James Franco’s alleged sexual aggression, I decided to give it a flyer, because I was sad that I had watched all of Midnight Diner and was wanting to get more of that peaceful, slice-of-life feeling that it had provided, and a show about a retired man leisurely seeking food to savor and enjoy seemed like it had some potential.
Now I don’t think it’s as good as Midnight Diner, but Samurai Gourmet has so far been pretty enjoyable as well. Whereas Midnight Diner was more about a centralized location and the people that gravitated to and around it, Samurai Gourmet is conversely centered around a singular person, freely flowing to different locations. However, it does manage to capture that light-hearted feeling and emotions of internal thought processes and the enjoyment of comfort foods in perfect circumstances.
I feel like the best analogy for the show is that it’s like Stephen King writing, when he was still in his literary prime. He’d take something like his protagonist going into the kitchen and doing mundane things, and somehow bilk 5,000 words, mostly adjectives to describe every little activity, before the last two paragraphs in the chapter are loose ties to the inevitable aliens/demons/monsters/spiders that the story is supposed to opposed by. Except in Samurai Gourmet, there is no supernatural villain to derail Castle Rock, just protagonist Kasumi’s own imagination of his inner samurai dealing with his fairly minor conflicts.
But then all the things that wandering Kasumi eats and indulges in, just bring it all back to earth, because who doesn’t love to watch food and drink being enjoyed in their most relished capacity? Seriously, I feel twinges of envy every time Kasumi eats just about anything, regardless of if they’re things that I like or not, just because the show makes them look so delectable.
I mean, I’ve eaten loads of rice, yakiniku barbecue, ramen and beers in my life, but I can’t really say that I feel like I’ve enjoyed any singular dish like Kasumi does in each varying episode of the show. And I think I have new goals in my life, but then again I’m not retired and I’m not 60 years old.
Regardless, Samurai Gourmet is another win for Netflix, as far as I’m concerned. As much as I love to grief all things Japan, due to mockingly nationalistic purposes, I have to say shows like it, and Midnight Diner almost rekindle the Weeaboo that I once was when I was a teenager. I feel like where Korea is great at making complex dramas and telling long-form stories, I think Japanese television has found a niche with the slice-of-life genre and quick and short, self-contained stories. Watching these shows recently makes me want to visit Japan more than I did before, and push it up on the list of destinations I’d like to visit one day, so that I could seek out an actual Midnight Diner and savor the food like Samurai Gourmet.