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Japanese Culture
Densha Otoko
Densha Otoko (電車男, でんしゃおとこ, Densha Otoko translated as Train Man) - A Japanese movie, television series, manga, novel, and other media, all based on the purportedly true story of a 23 year old otaku (Japanese geek) who intervened when a drunk man was harassing several women on a train. The otaku ultimately begins dating one of the women.

The event, and the man's subsequent dates with the woman, who became known as Hermès (エルメス, Erumesu), was chronicled on the Japanese mega-BBS 2channel. This led to the compilation of the relevant threads in a book, followed by several manga versions, a movie, a theatrical play later released as a DVD, and finally a TV series.

While many attest to the truth of the story -- including the producers of the television series who contacted the real Densha Otoko -- it has not been proven that the story was completely authentic.

Densha Otoko is a popular example of the "nice guy" class of Japanese geeks (otaku) 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 2channel thread for single men to bemoan their woes. According to his account, he had been sitting next to a young 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. The young woman requested his address, telling him that she wanted to express her appreciation for his act, before they parted ways. The poster, upon returning home, shared his experience with other posters in the thread and was eventually nicknamed "Densha Otoko" (Train_Man).

A few days later, Train_Man received a package from the woman: an expensive set of cups and saucers made by Hermès. 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, Train_Man eventually contacted the woman.

As Train_Man had never been on a date before, he consistently posted updates on his situation, asking for advice on everything from restaurant choices to what clothing to wear. After an enjoyable first date, they began meeting regularly. Following the 2channelers' 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 Shift JIS art pictures were posted. Because 2ch has an enormous impact on net culture in Japan, this story quickly spread throughout the media.

Information source: “Densha Otoko.” Article date: 21 Jan. 2008. Retrieved: Wikipedia. 16 Feb. 2008 <Densha Otoko>.





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