Saturday, June 5, 2010

Japan Up

Or Train Man up.  Either one works for this post about the Japanese film Densha Otoko (Train Man). 

I missed seeing it a few years back at the Asian Film Festival, but hadn't forgotten about it.  It's hard to forget a national phenomenon.  While the veracity of the original story is debated, this and all Train Man stories are based on actual online postings from an anonymous man.  Allegedly an IT employee who avoided interacting in person with others saved the day when he told a drunk man on a train that he should stop bothering people.  A young woman who was harassed by the man wanted Train Man's address to send him a gift, which she did--a set of Hermes cups, earning herself the pseudonym Hermes.  Train Man then continued posting online asking for advice on how to ask Hermes out, where to go on a date, what to wear, and other questions and reports as the relationship developed.  These posts, or at least a little under 1,900 of the nearly 30,000 posts, have been collected into a book

In addition to the film and the book, this story has also spawned a TV series and several manga.  Wikipedia's more source, if you'd like to read more of the meta-story and controversy.

Aside from the story itself, the movie has some stylistic fun, like sequences showing other antisocial, women-fearing computer geeks in combat, battling for their fellow geek, Train man.  There are dancing computer Kanji characters and plenty of ASCII art.  There are humorous sequences pulled from Train Man's imagination, like meeting Hermes' parents. 

The goofy mistakes made by this nervous Romeo are refreshing compared to what I've seen in plenty of US-made romantic comedies with guy appeal--there's no accidentally setting Hermes' dog on fire, thankfully.  There's his excited agitation leading him to--on second thought, I enjoyed seeing that scene so much myself, I'd hate to spoil the gag.  This movie's a ton of fun, light, but realistic, and my wife felt all snuggly after it was over.  I would say that it's perfect for summer, but snuggling is good any time of year.

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