Friday Film Review: Train Man: Densha Otoko
Train Man (Densha Otoko) 2005
Genre: Romantic comedy
One of the first manga reviews that Jan did for us was about this story. But since I’m not a manga devote, I’m afraid I didn’t recall it until after I had already decided to try this movie via Netflix. While I’m still not a manga fan, this is probably the nicest film adaptation of manga I’ve tried so far.
While riding the train, a desperate geek (Takayuki Yamada) meets the girl of his dreams (Miki Nakatani), prompting the socially deprived but brave young nerd to start a chat room thread asking his faceless Internet compatriots, “How do you talk to girls?” The courtship advice he receives from his online pals — and what he does with their expert counsel — form the basis for this charming romantic comedy, a love story for the 21st century.
What a delightful and charming story and how well it’s been adapted into a movie. Several places where I read up on the film all say that it’s a true story. I don’t know about that but I do know I enjoyed the heck out of watching it.
Train Man is such a geek. He lives online at home and looks to be an IT specialist at work – computers are his life and he has few social skills since he hardly ever seems to actually talk to anyone. Thus when he’s faced with the woman of his dreams, he hasn’t a clue as to what to say to her. Internet chat room geeks to the rescue!
The help and encouragement he gets are heartwarming. When to call her, what to say, how to ask her on a date, what restaurant to go to, what clothes to buy from which store and go to a hair salon, not a barbershop! They even eventually provide him with a flow charted date.
The interaction and growing attraction between Train Man and Hermes (so called because of the gift she got him as thanks for his initial intervention from the drunk man) is fun to watch. I groaned when he flubbed things and, like his internet buddies, cheered him on when he appeared about to falter.
I laughed after he describes her mother’s favorite brand of tea and half the internet buds immediately rush out to try it. I was touched by the time and care he spends researching a computer for Hermes. I slumped in my seat after he almost breaks off their relationship and urged him through the rainy streets of Tokyo on a quest to find her and repair the damage to their relationship. I was totally caught up in this film.
But I think the thing that will stick with me most is how his actions spur his friends on to get out in the world, away from their computers to live life too. Train Man tells Hermes that before he met her, he was content to be alone and face a future alone. But after he met her, he couldn’t continue like that. And she tells him that the reason she began to fall for him is that he was as scared as she of the belligerent drunk but that he still came to her rescue. Hermes goes on to say, “You turned nothing into something and turned trivial things into wonderful memories.” What a guy, eh?
The film is subtitled but still retains it’s “chat room” feel. The hour and 40 minutes seemed to zip by. Yes, it’s formulaic. Yes, you can sort of predict what will happen next but it’s still charming and well worth looking into. B+