Japanese cartoons and tv-shows are so different from their western counterparts, it’s quite incredible. A lot of overacting is common, the meanings and actions are exaggerated wildly and it all makes for often amusing, touching or disappointing scenes. Train-Man or Densha Otoko is an amazing show and I’ll explain why if you read on!
The Geek inside us all
Densha Otoko won’t appeal to everyone, that’s a given. Some people like Japanese / Asian culture and some don’t, this is a very basic difference in taste and will probably see you switching away from this show quite quickly.
If you manage to not stop watching, you will meet the main character Tsuyoshi Yamada, who on his internet chatboard is known as Densha Otoko. He’s an Otaku (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otaku) with a capital O. His entire life is dedicated to watching and obsessing over Japanese anime and manga. He goes to conventions, maidcafés and generally just hang out in Akihabara (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akihabara).
He has no experience talking to normal girl and he’s incapable of completing sentences when he speaks to most people as he’s afraid of talking to real people and find comfort in the chatboards on the internet and his 2 best friends (who are also major Otakus).
I could on a lot of levels relate to all his feelings of anxiety (though they are greatly exaggerated in the show) and apprehension in his encounters with both bosses, women, family, enemies and friends. My inner geek was cheering him on and wanted him to succeed, just as the rest of the people on the chatboard.
The fateful metro ride
One day everything changes, Tsuyoshi finds himself in the metro on the way home from a great day with his friends in Akihabara and he looks up and sees the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. He is completely mezmerized, until a drunk old man comes in the middle of the beautiful moment. He starts to abuse the girl and Tsuyoshi overcomes all of his inner hesitation, doubt and anxiety for a brief second where he stands up to the drunk man and distracts him until he is apprehended by the metro guards.
The girl is extremely glad of his intervention and gets his address to send him a thank you gift. She is the very image of innocence and purity. She is also very shy and is afraid of men ever since a traumatic experience in her life.
The story of the show
Every situation that Tsuyoshi and the girl (Hermes, see the show and find out why she’s called that!) has Tsuyoshi running to his message boards asking desperately for the help of his friends. The journey on which both Tsuyoshi and Hermes undertake is both touching and sweet. It also feels so real in a way because it’s so pure and simple. I found myself smiling when things were great and hopeful when things were bad. I even laughed out loud at some of the situations, I had chills whenever the “roar” of the internet sounded to boost Tsuyoshi’s confidence.
I wanted to be the best I could be after watching how Tsuyoshi did everything he could do to either change or be as good as he possible could to hold on to divine being he wanted nothing but to be near and see her smile.
Why you should watch it
I’ve rambled enough about this show. It’s 13 episodes of around 50 minutes each. It has an alternate ending, which I can highly recommend and it features both a fantastic intro song, the Imperial March from Star Wars and a great cast of characters. I hope you watch it and give it a shot.
It is not for everyone, but the ones who like it will absolutely love it!