Densha Otoko

Title:Densha Otoko
Train Man
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Densha Otoko has been described as "a fairy tale for the internet generation". Central to the story is the real-life Japanese web forum known as 2ch, the single largest internet message board in the world. A text-only forum in which all who post have complete anonymity, the lovelorn main character is given the nickname "Densha Otoko"--which means "Train Man"--by his fellow 2ch-ers after relating a story of how he met a beautiful woman on a train after standing up to a drunken passenger. Having no idea how to court the lady, who is nicknamed "Hermes" by the forum-goers, Densha Otoko turns to his fellow internet companions for help in winning her heart.

(Synopsis courtesy of Anime Insider magazine)

[actually, no anime so far - only a TV series, a movie and several mangas]
Gonzo has annouced that they are making an anime on Mina, the Rabbit girl who rides the trains. See Getsumen to Heiki Miina
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent Stretch [series:1398#628]
I swear, I was once reading a much more extensive article about the Densha Otoko phenomenon, but now I can't for the life of me remember what I did with it. This anonymous person (the original story is widely believed to be true) has caught the imagination of Japan, to the extent that the author theorized that this might be indicative of a more accepting attitude towards otaku in general. There has been a live-action movie, this TV series, and I think an anime version is in the works. With nothing more than the 2ch chat logs to work from, each version is free to take considerable liberties with it's plot, and it soon becomes clear that this one certainly did (at the end of the first episode, the statement appears "this drama is a fiction based on a real story"). Just watching the opening sequence of episode one (set to the tune of "Domo Arigato Mister Roboto") was great fun and spurred me to hurry over here and create this page. The scenes of Train Man and friends shopping in Akihabara, attending a photo shoot, and snacking in a maid cafe are great--I want to pause the player repeatedly to make out the details. The choice of music for the OP sequence is curious ("Twilight" by Electric Light Orchestra), but I like it (and the accompanying animation) nevertheless. Normally, half an hour is about as long as I can maintain interest in a series before I want to switch to something else, and I figured I'd watch about that much before going to bed. But I found this show to be so entrancing that I could only reluctantly break off my viewing after at least an hour had gone by. It really is funny at times, too! At times the jokes are surprisingly clever, such as when parodies of well known (American) movies are inserted. At other times the comedy is ridiculously amateurish, but I suspect this just might have been intentional as it lends a certain charm to the show. Likewise, Yamada (Train Man)'s facial expressions are overdone to the point of absurdity as he writhes in agony when he inadvertantly lets slip hints of what a bonafide otaku he really is. And who wouldn't love the bizarre 2ch contributors, like the railroad conductor, the military otaku, the guy who seems to be corresponding from India, etc, etc? The drama can be touching, too, and I can't help rooting for this poor geek who is continually put down by coworkers, family members and Japanese society in general. I was initially unsure how much comedy and drama could be squeezed out of the original premise, since this series adds up to around twelve hours airtime altogether (the first and last episodes seem to be 110 minutes long, and the rest around 46 minutes). But all sorts of interesting subplots develop (such as one of Yamada's domineering coworkers realizing that he is none other than "Train Man"), and I remained intrigued. At one point Hermes is being harrassed by a stalker, and I was thinking this was getting pretty far-out, but I was surprised how well the matter was resolved. I guess I had some sort of preconception that only an animated series could depict an otaku sympathetically, but that doesn't seem to be true. If you're a fan of shows like Genshiken, you might enjoy this one as well. One odd thing was that the Japanese commercials had been retained in episode one (have you ever heard of "Brewy" instant coffee?). I was confused by the transition from episode ten to eleven: somebody has done a little episode scrambling, ala Haruhi Suzumiya. Episode eleven ("Another Ending") actually takes place after episode twelve ("Final Story")--I guess it was inserted here so that it would run while interest in the show was at it's height. Eleven largely deals with some supporting characters, which was nice, but it would make more sense if you'd already seen twelve. The conclusion was a touch corny, but this is such a feel-good, loveable show that I doubt anybody who had come this far would mind. I admit I took a long time to watch this show, perhaps because the episodes were pretty long, but whenever I did watch another episode I was surprised at how much fun it was. I never got around to the four bonus segments.

My favorite line: "Asking us about a healthy outdoor sport is really pushing it" --2ch contributor

Also: "When Mina appears, would you mind if I kiss the (TV) screen?" --Yamada's friend

And: "Details requested!"

Last updated Sunday, February 10 2008. Created Tuesday, July 11 2006.

Other Sites
Wikipedia entry on "Densha Otoko"
Wikipedia entry on the "2channel" web forum

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