Live Action: Densha Otoko

February 17th, 2006

There is no Yuri in Densha Otoko. Let me just get that out of the way. However, it is so very worth of watching that I wanted to review it anyway.

For the three of you who have not run into in Densha Otoko, (Train Man in English), let me summarize the plot:

A dorky otaku sees a beautiful woman on a train. A druken man accosts said woman and the otaku has the balls to tell the old dude to stop. (In Japan, where it is common for people to ignore untoward things – heck in ANY city, really – this is a fairly significant thing). The woman sends the otaku a thank you note, and he asks a BBS channel for advice. With the help of all his “friends” on the chan, he ends up with the girl.

This story is supposed to be “based on” a real story. I found a really fun and bitter blog that thinks its a big ole fake. The channel, 2-chan, is familiar to most otaku, from America as well as Japan. The board does, indeed exist, and the messages as well…but the above blog thinks they were planted. But I think he missed the point. He’s convinced its a massive conspiracy – I’m convinced its a *well-written story.*

And that’s why I’m reviewing it. This, if it indeed is based upon a real story, probably has as much connection to it as the movie version of Last of the Mohicans did to the book. Which is to say, damned little. But as a drama? Oh my GOD was this an AMAZING story.

It is, at its heart, a love story. It’s a story about beauties and beasts and how sometimes the beauties are beasts inside and vice versa. It’s a story about how online communities and friendships are as important, as solid and as real as any other. And it’s a story about otaku life. From idol photo sessions, to bulletin boards, to figurines, maid cafes, seiyuu obsession, Comiket and everything, it’s about the life that I, and many other otaku have. And above all – it’s about being okay with who you are.

So much of anime is about average people in non-average situations. This story is about a horribly dysfunctionally non-average person in an average situation, which leaves him just about crippled. I mean, really, how many average guys would have a hard time calling a woman and asking her out?

On second thought don’t answer that.

Anwyay, for THIS man, it’s almost inconceivable, but he does it. And even after he “comes out” as an otaku – his words, “come out” – she accepts him.

In one of the many omake to this drama, two of his otaku friends, who are exceptionally horrible, (^_^;) enact his confession scene and end up kissing as a result. It was the most awful, funny train-wreck-but-I-can’t-stop-watching BL service scene I’d ever, ever seen. I loved it.

One other thing that has to be worth noting: the opening sequence is an homage to a very early Gainax animation sequence which is often referred to as “legendary”. The Wikipedia entry on Densha Otoko gives a nice summary of why, so I won’t bother plagiarizing. But the music cracks me up, I have to admit. We have both the Styx and ELO albums used in the series sitting on the shelf below my, yes, turntable.

To sum up – this series is BRILLIANT. If you are an otaku…not just a fan, but a rabid fan with more figurines, manga, DVDs, games, plushies, artbooks, etc than you know what to do with…watch this. Seriously.


Cinematography – 8
Story – 9
Characters – 9 (especially the Hanshin Tigers fanatic. He was my fave.)
Yuri – 0
Service – 1, even though it is about the stereotypical otaku.

I don’t think I’ve cried as much, as happily, for anything else I’ve ever watched. Ever.

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