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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Story of Train Man

Densha Otoko (Train Man) is a Japanese novel, manga and TV series based on the alleged real-life events in the life of an Otaku (a Japanese geek) in his twenties. It is unclear how much of this is fact or fiction, but the original events unfolded on the real & highly popular Japanese discussion board Wikipedia details the story like this:

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.

In 2004, an anonymous user posted in a thread for single men to decry their woes. According to his account, he had been sitting next to a beautiful 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.

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. They exchanged addresses and parted ways. The poster, upon returning home, began talking with other posters in the thread and was eventually nicknamed “Densha Otoko” (Train Man).

A few days later, Densha Otoko received a package from the woman: an expensive set of cups and saucers made by Herm├Ęs [the woman]. 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. Following the advice and suggestions of the other posters, Densha Otoko eventually contacted the woman.

After an enjoyable first date, they began meeting regularly, Densha Otoko all the while posting updates and asking for advice on everything from restaurant choices to what clothing to wear. Following their collective advice, he got a haircut, updated his wardrobe, and began to emerge from his shell. After several dates, his personality 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 ASCII art pictures were posted. Because 2ch has an enormous impact on net culture in Japan, this story quickly spread throughout the media.

[Original text published under the GNU Free Documentation License. Images by their respective owners from the comic book and screen adaptions.]


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