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Densha Otoko (電車男?, translated as Train Man) is a Japanese movie, television series, manga, novel, and other media, all based on the purportedly true story of a 23-year-old otaku who intervened when a drunk man was harassing several women on a train. The otaku ultimately begins dating one of the women.

The event, and the man's subsequent dates with the woman, who became known as "Hermès" (エルメス Erumesu?), was chronicled on the Japanese mega-BBS 2channel. This led to the compilation of the relevant threads in a book, followed by several manga versions, a movie, a theatrical play later released as a DVD, and finally a TV series.

Densha Otoko is a popular example of the "nice guy" class of Japanese geeks who wish to lead normal lives, but are too shy to find a girlfriend, or speak openly anywhere but online. The television series uses a large number of computer-bound extras.

Story

On March 14, 2004, at 9:55 p.m., an anonymous user posted in a 2channel thread for single men to talk about their woes. According to his account, he had been sitting next to a young woman on the train when a drunken man entered the car and began bothering the other passengers, most of whom were female. When the drunk began to badger a particular woman, the poster took the risk of telling the man to stop bothering the passengers. The two struggled for a short time while the other passengers used this distraction to summon the conductor, who took control of the situation.[1][2]

Never having done such a thing in his life, the poster was amazed to find the woman thanking him deeply for saving her from harassment.[3] The young woman requested his address, telling him that she wanted to express her appreciation for his act, before they parted ways.[3] The poster, upon returning home, shared his experience with other posters in the thread and was eventually nicknamed "Densha Otoko" (Train_Man).[3]

A few days later, Train_Man received a package from the woman: an expensive set of cups and saucers made by Hermès, a French luxury goods company.[2] Flabbergasted, the man turned to the 2channelers for advice; he was soon convinced that the tea set was too expensive to be a mere thank-you gift.[2] Following the advice and suggestions of the other posters, Train_Man eventually contacted the woman.[2]

The man who wrote admitted things about himself, such as the fact that his number of years without girlfriends equalled his age, that he was an Akihabara nerd and an otaku, and that he had never been on a date. Because of this last fact, he consistently posted updates on his situation, asking for advice on everything from restaurant choices to what clothing to wear. After an enjoyable first date, they began meeting regularly. Following the 2channelers' collective advice, he got a haircut, updated his wardrobe, and began to emerge from his shell. After several dates, his demeanor had changed for the better and this culminated a few months later in his confessing his love for her. She reciprocated, and when the 2channelers were informed, there was a mass celebration; posts began flowing in congratulating the new couple, and extravagant Shift JIS art pictures were posted.

Train_Man's posts continued for awhile longer, but on May 17, there were posts about the couple being on the verge of having sex, and several forum members made inappropriate comments on the subject. Later that night, Train_Man left the boards for good.

Authenticity

While many attest to the truth of the story—including the producers of the television series, who supposedly contacted the real Train_Man—it has not been proven that the story was completely authentic.[4] The true identity of "Train_Man" is never revealed and the book is based on an edited collection of posts on the 2channel bulletin board.[4] The original conversation lasted fifty-seven days and contained 29,862 posts, whereas the book contains 1,919 posts, as collected on a fan website. A list of inconsistencies in the story has been collated, including Train_Man being too young to have a university degree and be in the workforce for three years.[5]

Production

Akiba denkigai

Akihabara crossing

The initial setting of the film is in Akihabara, Tokyo.

Mark Schiller of The Japan Times comments that "since Fuji TV intends Densha Otoko for prime-time broadcast, Hermess (Nakatani) can only suggest a big sisterly friendliness and affection, meaning that the sexual chemistry between her and Train Man (Yamada) is zero".[6] Pop Culture Shock's Erin Finnegan reported, "when asked if the original novel would ever be imported, manga industry reps at New York Comic Con lamented that 2chan’s version of l33t is nearly impossible to translate."[7] The fansite compiling the posts which became the book has been translated into other languages by fans of the story, including into English in 2006.[5] President and CEO for Viz Pictures, Seiji Horibuchi, comments that the film Train Man: Densha Otoko "will make people think fondly about their own first experiences with love and the thrill and rush it caused. Perhaps it will even inspire a few to take a chance on someone they like!”[8]

"For Densha Otoko, two manga versions were seinen (geared toward young men); one was shōnen (for boys); and one was shōjo (for girls). Del Rey Manga licensed the shōjo version from Kodansha, with which it has strong ties. Viz Media licensed a seinen version, and CMX licensed the shōnen version. The fourth version (seinen) is currently being scanlated by the online scanlation group the Waffle House." - Kai-Ming Cha, Publishers Weekly[9]

Media

Book

Densha Otoko originated from a fifty-seven-day online conversation, from March 14 to May 16, that included a total of 29,862 posts on 2channel was edited into a six-chapter story, each called "Missions" of 1,919 posts and made available on the "Matome site".[9] According to "Fūin sareta 'Densha Otoko'" (封印された「電車男」?) by Kenji Andō, only 6.4% of the sentences published in the special Densha Otoko book were left alone.

The author of the book used the name "Nakano Hitori" (中野独人?). This name is a pun on the Japanese term "Naka no hitori", a term that refers to all the people who are part of message boards on the Internet. There isn't a specific person that is credited as the author; rather, it is close to a shared pseudonym.

Shinchosha released the novel on October 22, 2004.[10] Del Rey Books released the novel, renamed as "Train Man", during April 2007.[11]

Drama

Main article: Densha Otoko (drama)

The drama's 11 episodes were aired on Fuji TV from July 7 to September 22, 2005 (with a special episode on October 6, 2005).[5] A two hour long TV special, Densha Otoko Deluxe, aired on September 23, 2006.[5] Pony Canyon released the series on a DVD box set on December 22, 2005.[12] It also aired in Taiwan's Videoland Japan from January 24, 2006 (with a special episode on December 28, 2006),[13][14] and in Hong Kong's TVB Jade from April 15, 2006 (with a special episode on January 27, 2007).[15]

Film

Main article: Densha Otoko (film)

Densha Otoko film was directed by Shosuke Murakami.[16] It premiered in Japanese Cinemas by Toho on March 26, 2005.[17] The movie was screened in North American cinemas by Viz Pictures on September 22, 2006. Viz Media released the DVD of Train Man: Densha Otoko on February 6, 2007.[18] The opening theme is "Love Parade" (ラヴ・パレード?) by Orange Range.[19] The movie stars Takayuki Yamada as Train_Man/Densha Otoko and Miki Nakatani as Hermes.[16]

Manga versions

There are four manga adaptations of Densha Otoko:[4]

  • Train_Man: Densha Otoko (電車男〜ネット発、各駅停車のラブストーリー〜 Densha Otoko: Net-hatsu, Kakueki-teisha no Love Story?, "Train_Man: Internet, Local Train Love Story") is written and illustrated by Hidenori Hara. It was serialized in Shogakukan's Young Sunday from January 6, 2005.[4] Shogakukan released the manga's three tankōbon volumes between April 5, 2005 and September 5, 2005.[20][21] It was licensed in North America by Viz Media,[22] which released the manga's three tankōbon volumes between October 10, 2006 and February 13, 2007.[23][24] It is licensed in France by Kurokawa,[25] in Spain by Glènat España and in Germany by Carlsen Comics.[26]
  • Densha Otoko: The Story of a Train Man Who Fell in Love With A Girl (電車男〜でも、俺旅立つよ.〜 Densha Otoko: Demo, Ore Tabidatsuyo?) is written and illustrated by Wataru Watanabe. It was serialized in Akita Shoten's Champion Red from January 19, 2005.[4] Akita Shoten released the manga's three tankōbon volumes between March 20, 2005 and February 20, 2006.[27][28] The manga is licensed in North America by CMX,[29] which released the manga's three tankōbon volumes between October 11, 2006 and April 30, 2007.[30][31] It is licensed in France by Taifu Comics.[32]
  • Train_Man: Go, Poison Man! (電車男 がんばれ毒男! Densha Otoko: Ganbare Doku Otoko!?) is written by Hitori Nakano and illustrated by Daisuke Dōke. It was serialized in Akita Shoten's Weekly Shōnen Champion from December 28, 2004.[4][9] Akita Shoten released the manga's three tankōbon volumes between March 20, 2005 and January 20, 2006.[33][34] It is available in English as a scanlation.[9]
  • Train_Man: A Shōjo Manga (電車男〜美女と純情ヲタク青年のネット発ラブストーリー Densha Otoko: Bijo to Junjō Otaku Seinen no Net-hatsu Love Story?, "Train_Man: Beauty and the Simple Otaku-Boy, an Internet Love Story") is a one shot shōjo manga written and illustrated by Machiko Ocha. Kodansha released the manga on June 13, 2005.[35] The manga is licensed in North America by Del Rey Manga,[36] which released the manga on November 7, 2006.[37]

Reception

Densha Otoko novel sold 260,000 copies in just three weeks and 500,000 copies in two months.[9] Following its popularity, "Chikan Otoko" was produced, the story of a man who is accused of being a groper on public transport, and Napoleon Dynamite was retitled Basu Otoko ("Bus Man") for its Japanese release.[5] The Japan Times' Janet Ashby commented that the book felt like an "otaku wish-fulfillment fantasy: Someday I will magically meet Miss Right, rescue her like a knight on a white horse, be transformed into Mr. Right, and we will live happily ever after. The reaction of Miss Hermes when Trainman belatedly shows her the log of his postings about their private affairs was particularly unbelievable to me. Far from being hurt or angry, she is impressed by what good friends he has!"[1]

Mania.com's Matthew Alexander commends Densha Otoko: The Story of a Train Man Who Fell in Love With A Girl for being realistic, saying, "right after [Train's] session with a hair stylist, his hair is standing up in the right spots and looks good. Then, just like in real life, a couple of days afterwards his hair is back to looking like a shorter version of his hairstyle before it got cut. A very small part of the story I know, but I really appreciated the effort at displaying realism."[38] Coolstreak Comics' Leroy Douresseaux comments on Densha Otoko: The Story of a Train Man Who Fell in Love With A Girl, saying, "Watanabe understands the visual metaphor of the comics medium, which allows him to deliver his story with a force that captures the quiet awkwardness of two shy people".[39] IGN's A.E. Sparrow comments on the artwork of Densha Otoko: Train Man saying, "Hidenori Hara brings an old school style to his illustration, and there are moments where the complex panel layouts (particularly when several online people are offering advice at once) recall some of Will Eisner's best work."[40] A later review by Sparrow comments that Hidenori Hara's "work seems the most cartoonish of the bunch, with some of the characters looking almost like afterthoughts, but it's that scribbling style that really sets this version of the story apart." He also comments on Hermess looking "like a slightly more pixie-ish version of Lisa Hayes from Robotech".[41] Anime News Network's Carlo Santos' review of Train Man: A Shōjo Manga commends it for its "unique character viewpoint and a sweet, lighthearted mood". However, he criticises it for "skimping on plot and character development; sometimes awkward with Internet humor."[42]

"Watanabe draws a Hermess that is among the cutest female manga characters I have ever seen, making her the perfect object of affection for Train. And the facial expressions that he captures throughout this volume are very appropriate and revealing, giving us a great insight into their heads. Plus, not to be outdone, each character looks unique, which is something that many manga artists have a problem with." -Manga Life - Robert Murray review of Densha Otoko: The Story of a Train Man Who Fell in Love With A Girl[43]

On October 25, 2005, Japanese television drama, Densha Otoko was awarded six prizes at the 46th Television Drama Academy Awards: Best Drama, Best Supporting Actor (Atsushi Itō), Best Supporting Actress (Miho Shiraishi), Best Director (Takeuchi Hideki), Best Musical Arrangement and Best Opening.[44]

Densha Otoko movie was ranked 14th in the top movies in Japan in 2005, staying on in the box office's top 10 movies for 10 weeks, grossing ¥3,532,525,613 as of January 2006.[45] It grossed over $35 million since its release.[46] Metacritic gave Densha Otoko an aggregated score of 60%.[47] Pop Culture Shock's Erin Finnegan comments on the Densha Otoko movie about its ASCII art, which made the "strange transition from computer monitor to silver screen". She continues, "you might be familiar with emoticons in English internet-speak, but the Japanese use totally different emoticons. Thankfully, these symbols are clarified in the film. The bowing man art is usefully overlaid with an image of Densha Otoko bowing."[7] Manga Life's Michael Aronson criticises the film, saying, "It’s understood that he lacks all social grace when he trips and falls in the train in the beginning, but he does so over and over throughout the film. Furthermore, the length could easily be cut by twenty minutes if Train Man could keep from stammering all the time and actually spit out a word or two. His inadequacies translate into a crippling experience for the audience who just wants to see him get the girl and call it a day. Lastly, the characterization of the girl is so bare-bones that it’s bewildering why she would be attracted to him at all."[48] San Francisco Chronicle's G. Allen Johnson comments that Train Man "fable ups the ante on depicting modern communication". He also comments on the chat-room messages, saying "chat-room messages are texted right onto the screen, sometimes narrated in voiceover, with such frequency that a real person saying something in his real voice to another real person can be startling".[49] The New York Times' Jeannette Catsoulis comments on Train Man: Densha Otoko, saying, "though its appeal may be limited to the socially awkward, the movie is unusually perceptive about the attractions of online communities while gently insisting on the superiority of flesh over fantasy. “Train Man” wants us to get off our computers and get out of the house; in a country as technocentric as Japan, the suggestion that it may be time to replace the cyber with the real is not just subversive, it’s downright revolutionary."[50] The Village Voice's Drew Tillman criticises the film for its "annoying split screens" when "[Train Man] turns to his chat room buddies for advice on how to win [Hermes] over".[51] TV Guide's Maitland McDonagh criticises the film for its ending that "drags on, and the fantasy sequences are bluntly obvious (though Train Man's nightmare vision of meeting Hermes' parents is pretty funny)". However, she commends the fairy-tale romance [that] is grounded in authentic detail.[52]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ashby, Jane (November 18, 2004). "Hey Mr. Trainman". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Johnson, Craig (June 30, 2006). "Viz Media and Viz Pictures Announce Trainman: Densha Otoko". Manga Life. Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Johnson, G. Allen (December 8, 2006). "Train Man". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on July 23, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "Four Manga Based on the Same Novel". Anime News Network. 2005-01-01. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Freedman, Alisa (April 2009). "Train Man and the Gender Politics of Japanese 'Otaku' Culture: The Rise of New Media, Nerd Heroes and Consumer Communities". Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (Australian National University) (20). Retrieved 18 April 2009.  delete character in |title= at position 51 (help)
  6. Schiller, Mark (June 15, 2005). "Getting to the next stage in life and love". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Finnegan, Erin (September 19, 2006). "Manga Recon @ the Movies: Densha Otoko". Pop Culture Shock. Archived from the original on July 4, 2010. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  8. "Viz Media Announces Release of Train Man". Anime News Network. June 28, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Cha, Kai-Ming Cha (March 7, 2006). "All Aboard the Densha Otoko Express". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  10. Script error
  11. "Train Man: The Novel". Del Rey Books. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  12. Script error
  13. Script error
  14. Script error
  15. Script error
  16. 16.0 16.1 Script error
  17. Script error
  18. "Train Man: Densha Otoko (DVD)". Viz Media. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  19. Script error
  20. Script error
  21. Script error
  22. "Viz Media New Manga Titles at BookExpo". Anime News Network. May 19, 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  23. "Train_Man: Densha Otoko, Vol. 1". Viz Media. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  24. "Train_Man: Densha Otoko, Vol. 3". Viz Media. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  25. Script error
  26. Script error
  27. Script error
  28. Script error
  29. "CMX Fall Manga Dates". Anime News Network. 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  30. "Densha Otoko (Train Man) (GN 1)". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  31. "Densha Otoko (GN 3 of 3)". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  32. Script error
  33. Script error
  34. Script error
  35. Script error
  36. "Del Rey announces shojo Densha Otoko manga". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  37. "Train Man: A Shojo Manga". Del Rey Manga. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  38. Alexander, Matthew (November 3, 2006). "Densha Otoko Vol. #01". Mania.com. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  39. Douresseaux, Leroy (April 22, 2007). "Densha Otoko: Volume 3". Coolstreak Comics. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  40. Sparrow, A.E. (September 27, 2006). "Train-Man Vol. 1 Review". IGN. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  41. Sparrow, A.E. (January 18, 2007). "Densha Otoko: Train Man Vol. 2 Review". IGN. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  42. Santos, Carlo (November 26, 2008). "Train Man: A Shojo Manga G. novel". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  43. Murray, Robert. "Densha Otoko v2". Manga Life. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  44. Script error
  45. "Top Movies in Japan in 2005". Anime News Network. 2006-01-02. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  46. Luther, Katherine (January 21, 2007). "Train Man: Densha Otoko". About.com. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  47. "Train Man". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  48. Aronson, Michael. "Train Man: Densha Otoko DVD". Manga Life. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  49. Johnson, G. Allen (December 8, 2006). "Train Man". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  50. Catsoulis, Jeannette (September 22, 2006). "Train Man: Densha Otoko (2005)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  51. Tillman, Drew (September 12, 2006). "'Train Man: Densha Otoko'". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  52. McDonagh, Maitland. "Train Man". TV Guide. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 

External links

zh-min-nan:Tiān-chhia-lâmko:전차남

it:Train Man ms:Densha Otokono:Densha Otokosv:Densha Otoko zh:電車男

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