This is a list of characters who appear in Midnight Diner.
The proprietor of Meshi-ya, the Master serves as the protagonist of the series, appearing in all episodes and the movies.
- Everybody Has Standards: Male patrons physically duking it out in his restaurant? Poor their cold drinks over their heads to cool them down; a male patron abusing his girlfriend? The Master will crack a bottle of beer over the man's head.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Most of the time when the Master smokes is during either an insightful conversation or a poignant scene.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: One across his left eye
- Mysterious Past: The Master's origins are never discussed nor shown.
- Supreme Chef: Played with; though it might seem like the Master can cook anything his customers want, he states there are some dishes that even he can't do like sushi. Exaggerated when he orders gyoza (dumplings) from a nearby take-out restaurant as an order from a customer because the Master claims he can't make gyoza as good as the owner's; it leads to that owner teaching the Master his gyoza recipe.
Regular Customers of Meshi-ya
Characters listed here at those who have appeared in at least one episode of every "season" and the movies.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Played with as Ryu is hardly "evil".
- Despite his gambling operations being illegal, he scolds his underling Gen for taking gambling bets on professional baseball games from high school students. Turns out there's a good reason for that.
- Although he doesn't share the same feelings that Kosuzu has for him, Ryu nevertheless helps him get rid of a few disturbing patrons at his bar off-screen.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: A tall, imposing man who wears a black suit and always dons a pair of sunglasses, his physical attributes serve as an attraction to Kosuzu and his eccentric friends. Visually exemplified in a black-and-white photograph taken by Komichi when he opens his gala, mesmerizing Kosuzu enough to call Ryu "beautiful".
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: After Kanemoto's tells a ghost story in the last episode of Tokyo Stories, Ryu flies into hysterics when he hallucinates aliens and ghosts, unable to ever eat watermelon ever again.
Owner of a gay bar in the same neighborhood as Meshi-ya, Kosuzu's Trademark Favorite Food is tamagoyaki (grilled egg rolls).
- Camp Gay: Though compared to his friends, Kosuzu appears the least camp of the bunch, particularly when Ko has a far more flamboyent appearance.
An old-school stripper, Marilyn has trouble establishing firm relationships with men, so much that after many failed tries, she settles on Kimitoshi, a chiropractor. Her Trademark Favorite Food are cabbage rolls.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Invoked; after she starts dating Kimitoshi, she replies to Chu and Komichi that what attracted her to him the most is not just "his heart", but also "his hands".
Part of Ryu's Yakuza group, Gen's Trademark Favorite Food is kinpira gobo (braised burdock root). He also hates dishes that are too hot to eat (rather than spicy) because it burns the roof of his mouth.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Gin can't handle a lot of alcohol; in fact, he occassionally orders a beer to go with his food, but won't drink it.
- Heroic BSoD: Upon finding out his old high school teacher, whom he loved, has died, Gen goes into a fit of rage and breaks down crying.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Given he's a gangster, Gen has attitude problems and is easily triggered to anger, but upon hearing of how hard Saya is working late-night shifts at pachinko parlors, he pays for her meal. Additionally, he confronts and intimidates Saya's abusive boyfriend for taking their relationship for granted.
- The Straight Man: The most logical and reasonable patron of the regulars; Chu also has the least amount of "wackiness" compared to the rest of the cast.
An amateur photographer
A trio of 30-year old office workers, they are the most attuned to gossip of the Meshi-ya customers. Collectively, ochazuke (tea poured over cooked rice) is their Trademark Favorite Food.
A middle-aged Salaryman
- The Smart Guy: Of the regular patrons, Kanemoto is the most knowledgeable of random facts, such as the origins of the "highball" drink.
- Flat Character: Whereas most of the regular and recurring patrons have a particular quirk or trait, Hachiro has nothing significant or unusual about him that stands out.
Recurring Customers of Meshi-ya
Characters listed here at those who have appeared in at least one episode of at least two seasons, but are nevertheless patrons.
Known as "Erect Oki", this famous male pornstar is said to have a career spanning over 200 movies in the industry. Hailing from a family of schoolteachers, Oki was disowned by his mother for his choice of career and has not seen her in years. His Trademark Favorite Food is potato salad.
- Heroic BSoD: When his mother contracts Alzhemier's Disease, Oki returns home to visit her, except she doesn't recognize him. He tearfully apologizes, lamenting his ill-strickened mother only remembers the days when he was a boy who loved to eat potato salad. Oki urges his porn trainee Tanaka to not neglect his own injured mother in the hospital as Oki did with his.
- Meaningful Name: "Oki" literally means "big wood".
A harsh food critic, he becomes pleasantly surprised when he encounters his elderly sister's boyfriend from years past, Goro, after Komichi introduces him to Meshi-ya. His Trademark Favorite Food is butter rice (a slice of butter placed on a steaming bowl of rice with a dash of soy sauce).
- Shipper on Deck: Even though it's been years since they last saw each other, Masao states his sister still thinks of Goro and encourages him to go see her.
A renowned police detective, who happens to be Ryu's high school classmate, his Trademark Favorite Food are Chinese chives with liver.
A clerk working for a pachinko parlor during late-nights, Saya was in a relationship with a failing comedian after graduating from high school, but broke it off after her boyfriend was goaded by Gen. Currently working as a tour bus guide, Saya's Trademark Favorite Food is kaarage (deep-friend chicken) with a highball drink.
- Sleep Cute: What the male Meshi-ya patrons think when she dozes off before the Master can serve her a dish of kaarage due to irregular working hours. Averted after she quits working at the pachinko parlor.
Hailing from Osaka, Kasumi's Trademark Favorite Food are deep-fried beni shoga (a type of Japanese pickle) in the form of tempura.
One of Kosuzu's gay friends
Marilyn's current boyfriend
Noguchi's partner in the police department: whereas he is more traditional and strict with protocols, Natsuki prefers out-of-the-box thinking and bending of the rules. Her Trademark Favorite Food is liver with Chinese chives.
The local police patrolman operating in a booth just around the corner from Meshi-ya.
Owner of a produce shop the Master goes everyday to purchase his groceries for Meshi-ya. His Trademark Favorite Food are his mother's pickled plums and plum wine.
- Ascended Extra: Although he makes his appearance briefly in the first movie, Yoichi serves as the central character for one of the episodes in Tokyo Stories.
A runaway who stumbles upon Meshi-ya in the first movie, following a dine-and-dash scenario, Michiru works alongside the Master in his restaurant in the second-third of the film.
The proprietress of a traditional kaiseki restaurant, Chieko occasionally stops by Meshi-ya to catch up with the Master.
- Ship Tease: With the Master; this is not lost on his patrons and Michiru, whom the latter explicitly asks her in the first movie if she likes him or not.