Train Man, Or an Internet Generation Love Story

I have lost the ability to sit and watch TV.

No, really.

Every time I try to sit and watch TV, I end up crocheting, sharpening a knife or my razors, drawing, brainstorming, folding laundry, ironing napkins or shirts, or even polishing shoes.

That having been said, those chores usually need to be done on a regular basis, so I sometimes get to watch a bit.

Megan appreciates it.

trainmanThis time, I found a copy of Densha Otoko, or Train Man. A friend let me borrow the three book manga set when I was in high school, and thought it might be worth a shot. I’m aware of the ways of literature that says that the book will always be better than the movie, but this was actually based on something resembling actual events.

The story follows a character who goes by the username of Train_Man. I don’t know as his actual name is given, but that’s not important (I’ll get to why later). He’s a geek and spends most of his time shopping for cool anime figurines and generally avoiding human interaction except through his computer. He makes an introvert look downright social.

But, he does have a spot of courage, which expresses itself when he’s traveling on the train one day and asks a drunk to stop messing with a girl on the train. A fight almost breaks out, and Train_Man almost has to attempt to defend himself. But none of it happens, and the police come to ward the drunk man away from any more problems, leaving Train_Man to receive compliments for his heroism, including the girl his age he had rescued from the drunk.

She asks for his address, and he’s surprised to see a gift from her actually arrive at his actual house. Completely baffled for what to do, he turns to the internet, where a group of fellow users give him advice on what to do, what to say, and what to wear and shop for.

Aiding by the online friends, one of the most awkward romances evolves with Train_Man dependent on the online forum to help him interact with the girl, whom he calls Hermes after the brand of cups she gave him as a gift.

Okay, so real names weren’t really given on any character, and that’s the beauty that makes this a love story for the modern generation. Statistically, we’re all online more than we are out in the real world interacting, so the people who find interacting with real people are much more abundant than they were even twenty years ago. One right decision can make all the difference, but that difference is maintained by the learning of the necessary skills to back that up. Any given person can be Train_Man.  We all have that one glorious moment, then wonder how to make it last beyond the moment, or the Facebook status about it, or in my case the page and a half description in a spiral notebook. Train_Man succeeded in making it last. Not as consistently as we can dream or idealize, but he made it last long enough that it’s an enviable tale.

Is it sad that I think this is a more real romance than the majority of things America can come up with as far as boy-meets-girl scenarios? We talk about American love stories and usually it’s a war being fought for love, facing insurmountable odds for love, or making huge sacrifices for the love interest. But when we get to Densha Otoko, the only big sacrifice is what most of us do anyways. There’s literally nothing about Train_Man that we can’t do, no effort we can’t make. We kind of see that in the distant couple that help Train_Man through the show. Even the three friends find the courage to do something that the majority of people are able to do on a daily basis.

Now, we all know how love stories end up. It’s the most well used and overused theme in all of literary creation. We expect that when we see a movie listed as romance. The only variable is how long it takes to get there. With Densha Otoko, the story gets dragged through the mud of reality and that presents a fresh handful of sprinkles to the familiar and mundane idea of a love story.

I give Densha Otoko a hearty four out of five. I enjoyed the movie, but Takayuki Yamada, who played the main character, overacted the nerdiness in some scenes. And the attempts at showing love and interaction as a battlefield didn’t succeed and ended up being corny against the backdrop of the rest of the film.

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