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I am the Train Boy!


FRESH: 7/10  7/10


Train Man (2005)


Note: I've liberally linked to Wikipedia for an explanation of a lot of the Japan-specific terminalogy in this entry...

I just finished watching 'Densha Otoko' ('Train Man') on DVD. I got it for Y0-chan on DVD while in HK over Christmas (only $11 for a two disc version, they had a fancy one w/ two mugs and a bunch of extras, but I didn't think i could fit it in my suitcase).

Given my recent trip to Tokyo ( Akihabara specifically) and my recent discovery of the wonder of the otaku, I wanted to see it. It was a big hit here in Japan and both Y0-chan and Jetrin had given it high marks.

Basically Densha Otoko is the story of true (geek) love in Tokyo. Supposedly based on a true story recorded off an online chatline, it was turned into a popular manga and eventually a TV show and movie.

A super-otaku, fresh on his latest trip to Akihabara, laden with a bag full of anime related toys, he encounters a drunk business man harrassing everyone in the car. He somewhat accidently rescues an OL, and a budding love ensues.

The fun part is the fact that Train Man is one of those guys who has never actually dated before, has zero experience and is freaked out when faced with even the thought of social interaction with real people, much less an attractive woman. Which is not far fetched, many of the real otaku are like this. ...BUT they make the Train Man out to be a nice innocent boy, no mentioning of hentai anime pillows, doll cafes or all that other stuff...

So Train Man enlists the aid of his internet chatroom buddies for moral support and advice - ('step one: get a hair cut'!) This is some of the best stuff about this movie, a bit of a cultural anthropological look at modern japanese society:

There's the parasite single nurse, the 20-something ' NEET' shut-in, The Salary-Man and his estranged wife. And last but not least, a group of three uber-geeks who spend all their time in one of those Japanese cyber cafes...

Eventually despite being a galactic level dork, the Train Man goes for it and finds true love (with the typical romantic comedy bumps in the road).

I'm sure I missed like 90% of the humor, since they do a lot of split screen stuff during the 'online discussion' scenes, its too much for subtitles to keep up, and also a lot of the humor is in how the lines are spoken (the types of japanese used, etc). But i think even with just subtitles and a mild understanding of the culture, you can understand what's going on.

The train guy is annoying sometimes, and the girl is a bit of a pretty flat character, but I'll still give it a 7/10, but maybe thats influenced by my current locale. I think it'd still be fresh for most viewers though. I'm curious to see the TV drama now. The girl is definitely cuter.... ;-)

Official movie website here. Trailers in Japanese here.

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April 13, 2007