Train_Man: Densha Otoko Vol. 3 by Hidenori Hara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 11, 2007 by  


You definitely want to cheer for the underdog in “Train_Man: Densha Otoko Vol. 3” by Hidenori Hata! Fun, humorous and enjoyable, the final conclusion to “Train_Man: Densha Otoko” is recommended!

© 2005 Hidenori Hara, Hitori Nakano/Shogakukan Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Train_Man: Densha Otoko Vol. 3

STORY AND ART BY: Hidenori Hara



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: February 13, 2007

A real-life thread on an internet forum started it all. A nerdy otaku meets a girl on a train and posts an urgent query on the web–How the heck do you talk to girls? What should he wear on the date? Where should they go? The forum’s response was amazing, and the thread grew incrementally longer as the nerd’s relationship with the woman developed. Eventually published in book format to become a best seller, the thread spawned a blockbuster movie, a hit TV series, as well as this heartwarming manga adaptation of an entire internet community rooting for love and romance.

Train Man has eventually gotten closer to Hermes thanks to the support of the Internet netizens on a 2ch message board.  But having now gone on dates with Hermes, there is one thing that Train Man has not been able to do…to tell her how he feels.

As Hermes leaves on vacation, Train Man is determined to tell her that he loves her when she returns…but will she be happy or will she reject him?

The stress of not knowing is a bit hard on Train Man and he goes on the Internet via the 2CH forum message thread for their advice!

Will Train Man gain the courage to tell Hermes he loves her?  Find out in the final volume 3 of “Train_Man: Densha Otoko”!

What is “Densha Otoko” all about?

Back in 2004, an anonymous user posted on the Japanese text forum known as 2channel (“2chan” for short).

The anonymous user posted about his experience of sitting next to a beautiful woman on a train and when a drunken man started bothering the female passengers, the otaku who just came from shopping in Akihabara, protected the women and became a hero. But for the otaku, he became smitten with the beautiful woman he was sitting with, a woman who thanked him by sending two Hermes teacups to him as a thank you.

Wanting to ask the woman on a date, he goes on 2chan for answers since he is not good with girls, nor is he experienced with dating. On 2chan, he would be known as “Densha Otoko” (Train Man), while the woman would be known as “Hermes”.

Despite no one really knowing the truth if the story about the Train Man was authentic, the conversation on 2Chan did last 47 days with 29,862 posts among the community. And the storyline of this anonymous person, would lead to a book collecting a few of the posts but also would lead to various manga versions, a drama series, a movie and a theatrical play as it would become popular.

The first manga adaptation of “Train Man” would be “Densha Otoko: Ganbare Dokuo!” by Hitori Nakano and illustrator Daisuke Doke and was serialized in Akita shoten’s “Weekly Shonen Champion” in Dec. 2004 and later released as three tankobon volumes between 2005-2006.

A second manga adaptation based on Nakano’s “Densha Otoko: Ganbare Dokuo!” by Hidenori Hara titled “Densha otoko: Net-hatsu, Kakueki-teisha no Love Story” would be serialized in Shogakukan’s “Young Sunday”.

The version I am reviewing is Nakano’s version which will be the first manga series of “Densha Otoko” to be officially released in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media titled as “Train_Man: Densha Otoko”.

Without spoiling the first volume, as previously mentioned, the series is about an otaku who looks to 2Chan for help on how to ask the young woman on the date. Various members get into the posts by sharing their own opinion of what he should do. From cutting his hair to changing his wardrobe but to give him support as he is quite inexperienced with women.

But as Train Man follows the advice of the posters in the thread and see how their advice is benefiting him and producing results, the others begin to get into Train Man’s story and feel happy or inspired by it.

But what happens when Hermes asks the Train Man to have dinner with her and her friend?

In volume 2, Hermes’ friend is curious about the Train Man and because this is the first time he out with girls, will she approve of him? And what happens when Hermes invites Train Man to her home for tea? And eventually the two have gone on several dates with each other.

But now in volume 3, having fallen in love with her, Train Man wants to tell her how he feels.  But will he have the courage to tell her?  Once again, he turns to the people who have supported him the most, those on the 2ch forum message thread.

Will this be the moment that Train Man will finally have the courage to tell Hermes that he loves her?

“Densha Otoko” is a manga that is quite original for the fact that it utilizes Japan’s 2Chan posts, Shift JIS art (Japanese ASCII art) incorporated to the storyline. But what is more fascinating is how a storyline is inspired by a thread, which no one really knows if its real or fake.

But why people find it so captivating is that an otaku is asking people on 2Chan how he should approach a woman he likes. Without much experience, everyone chimes in on the message board, giving him their own two cents about how he should plan and prepare to ask this woman out for dinner. But of course, with the different people contributing to the thread, everyone has their own interpretation and feelings about Train Man.

If anything, most people like to see an underdog succeed and in the case of “Train_Man: Densha Otoko”, it’s the thrill of seeing how this man transforms himself from your Akihabara otaku to a well-dressed, well-groomed guy willing to take the advice of people he doesn’t know and go for it!

Back in volume 1, the story began with Train Man going to the people on 2CH with advice and trying to muster up the courage to meet with Hermes.  In volume 2, he needs the support from those on 2CH to gain the courage to go out with her on dates and now, the natural progression of Train Man now wanting more than just dates but a real relationship with Hermes and wanting to finally tell her that he loves her.   And of course, going back to those who have gave him support, the netizens of 2CH.

For the most part, the conclusion of Hidenori Hara’s version of “Train_Man: Densha Otoko” is well done. But I also felt Machiko Oka’s “Train Man: A Shojo Manga” was able to show more emotion for its final act.  There are two major differences between the two storylines, with Oka’s version showing that Hermes had a boyfriend during the time she met Train Man, while Hara’s version, Hermes is single.  So, as both are similar in storyline, they are very much different due to Hermes having a boyfriend in Oka’s version.

The artwork by Hidenori Hara is good and like a very good Japanese drama series, it manages to capture the emotions of the characters remarkably well. And for the most part, his artwork remained consistent and enjoyable from beginning to end.

You definitely want to cheer for the underdog in “Train_Man: Densha Otoko Vol. 3” by Hidenori Hata! Fun, humorous and enjoyable, the final conclusion to “Train_Man: Densha Otoko” is recommended!

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