Some stories are created in unconventional ways, one example is Densha Otoko (Train man). History tells us that everything started in a japanese online chat and then it was transposed in various media: the novel but also a japanese tv series, a movie and a manga.
The story is a romantic one: an otaku has the chance to date a girl. The peculiarity, at least for the novel, is in the narrative form, the structure is like the original online chat and consequently is rich in colloquial forms and emoticons.
It is interesting also because it points out the new communication media available today (such as internet and chats).
“Train man” or “Densha Otoko” is about a love story, in this case however the theme is not interesting as the way it is narrated and became successful – “Train man” had a tremendous success in Japan becoming a novel, a manga and a tv drama.
The story is narrated in an online Japanese channel (chan2) where an otaku tells about him helping some women in a train against a drunken and how one of them sent him a couple of cups to thank him. The main character is deeply insecure and starts asking help to the other channel residents to decide about what to answer her; from this moment train man begin telling the others the evolution of his love story with Hermes (the girl was nicknamed after the cups brand name) while his followers start to wait anxiously Train man’s reports.
This story may be a set up, but surely it’s believable its setting in Japan; the name of the author, Nakano Hitori, means “one of them”, so one of the channel residents who extracted the most significant threads to create a website and then a novel and so on.
The story is fluid, despite the fact it consists of online chats, and the reader can sense the increasing empathy and expectations of the residents for train man and Hermes story since it corresponds to an evolution of the standard otaku to a completely different life.
One of the central theme is in fact the inability of train man, such as the other channel residents, to speak about his life to “real” people and is able to open his heart to strangers on the Internet.
It’s a very interesting and peculiar reading that speaks about Japanese culture and about otaku or nerds (these are present in every Internet culture); last but not least the ASCII art is awesome.
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* Densha Otoko by Nakano Hitori ★★★★☆
*I read this book in English