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Frau Faust vol. 1 by Kore Yamazaki (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Another action-packed thirteenth volume of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” as vampires from another region have come to confront Ferid but also Krul Tepes. Meanwhile, what secret is lurking within Yoichi? All this and more!

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© 2015 Kore Yamazaki. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Frau Faust vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Kore Yamazaki

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Kodansha

RATED: 13+

RELEASE DATE: September 26, 2017


From the creator of The Ancient Magus’ Bride comes a supernatural action manga in the vein of Fullmetal Alchemist! With electrifying art and a gripping story, Frau Faust reimagines the protagonist of the classic tale who makes a deal with the devil as a tenacious female scholar.

More than a century after an eccentric scholar made an infamous deal with a devil, the story of Faust has passed into legend. However, the true Faust is not the stuffy, professorial man known in fairy tales, but a charismatic, bespectacled woman named Johanna Faust, who happens to still be alive. Searching for pieces of her long-lost demon, Johanna passes through a provincial town, where she saves a young boy named Marion from a criminal’s fate. In exchange, she asks a simple favor of Marion, but Marion soon finds himself intrigued by the peculiar Doctor Faust and joins her on her journey. Thus begins the strange and wonderful adventures of Frau Faust!


Back in the 1500’s, a German legend about a scholar named Faust who made a pact with the Devil remained pervasive for centuries to come.

Based on the Johann Georg Faust, an alchemist, astrologer and magician of the German Renaissance, decades after his death, books were written about Faust and because of the mystery if Faust really lived, when or how he died, the man’s name lives on.

The legend is as follows, Faust who was highly successful was dissatisfied with life and so he made a pact with the devil named Mephistopheles in exchange for his soul, he would have unlimited knowledge and pleasures.  The story was reworked by Goethe in the late 1700’s and “Faust” was made into a tragic play which would become Goethe’s magnum opus and the greatest work of German literature.

For mangaka Kore Yamazaki, the author is a big fan of mythology and would work on a manga series titled “Frau Faust” and in this story, making Faust a woman instead of a man.

The manga begins with a story of the legend of Faust being read by a woman named Johanna.  A storekeeper yells that a boy has stolen a book from him and he bumps into Johanna.

Johanna manages to save the boy from punishment but takes him to his mother.  As Johanna talks the boy named Marion, she learns that he was stealing the books that were originally his and was taken and sold by debt collectors.

Feeling bad for him, she offers to teach Marion.  But looking through his stack of books, he sees “The Life of Dr. Faust” and Johanna is shocked that the events of Faust were made into a book.

That night, as Johanna is searching for her dog, an inquisitor comes and impales her with a sword.  The inquisitor calls Johanna, Dr. Faust and that he smelled the scent of a demon on her.

As Marion is shocked that Johanna is Faust, she heals quickly and tells the inquisitor that her goal is to crush her demon.  But as mephisto shows up, he transports Johanna and Marion to another location.

About to wipe off Marion’s memories of finding out her true identity, he tells her that despite her being a monster or a cursed individual, he wants to learn from her and wants her to continue to be his teacher.

Which leads Faust to take Marion to her home with her loved one’s waiting for her.  But there are secrets surrounding the town she lives in, what is planted there and why people are getting sick or dying.

Meanwhile, the inquisitor manages to track the two down.  What will happen to both Faust and Marion?

Also, included is a second story titled “The Invisible Museum” about a teenage student named Asaki, and the director of the musuem wants her to find a butterfly that has escaped her box at the Invisible Museum.  But what happens when Asaki confronts it?


For the first volume of “Frau Faust”, it’s a very interesting story inspired by the German legend of Faust. As Kore Yamazaki is heavily into mythology and legends, writing about Faust and giving the character a different spin, by making her a female and also creating various other creations by her. Meanwhile, having Inquisitors that want her dead.

Johanna Faust is seeking missing parts of her demon and now she must go on a journey, a long with a boy who has a thirst for knowledge that wants to learn from her and help her with her mission.

Artwork by Kore Yamazaki is good and with open scenery full of detail.

The first volume is more character-building chapters and establishing Johanna Faust and Marion but also other characters close to Faust, but also showing how much her life is in difficult, considering her pact made with a demon to find his missing pieces of her demon.

So far, an entertaining story plus a secondary story titled “Imaginary Museum”. But both stories are interesting, very different from each other but a fresh unique spin on the German legend, Faust.

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A Caring Man by Akira Arai (a J!-ENT Book Review)

August 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

For those who enjoy psychological, suspenseful thrillers “A Caring Man” by Akira Arai is well-written, cerebral, dark, intense and an entertaining read from beginning to end.  Uncompromising and shocking, Akira Arai’s “A Caring Man” is recommended!

 

TITLE: A Caring Man

BY: Akira Arai, Translated by Marc Adler

PUBLISHER: Vertical Inc.

PAGE COUNT: 352

RELEASED: July 16, 2011

Tokyo, 2011. An unknown terrorist group has destroyed an iconic landmark in the Japanese capital, signaling the start of a series of attacks that the group’s enigmatic leader promises will culminate in a “Final Event” — a massacre of unprecedented proportions. With no leads to work with aside from the ingeniously devised detonators used in the first bombing, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police is forced to contemplate the grim possibility of international terrorists targeting Japan, but one detective has a hunch that the perpetrators are to be found much closer to home…

Part psychological thriller, part fantasy horror, A Caring Man is film producer and author Akira Arai’s richly imagined exploration of violence and social ennui — tale filled with compellingly drawn characters that offers a unique glimpse into the dark heart of modern Japanese society.

Akira Arai is known as a filmmaker and producer and the head of his studio, Kinetique.

But this time around, Arai made his debut with his first novel titled “A Caring Man”, a psychological thriller which has earned him a Golden Elephant Award.

In fact, even Kanjiro Sakura, producer of the film “Inception” was quite positive towards the book after the book received an award saying, “Everything about this book from its structure to its themes and execution is modern, making it a complete ‘entertainment story.’  It is the ideal thematic match for these times, deserving of a literary grand prize.”

And now “A Caring Man” receives its release in the U.S. courtesy of translations by Marc Adler and released by Vertical Inc.

“A Caring Man” begins with an prologue of how a baby was dropped off at a baby hatch at Jiiku Christian Hospital, a place where many unwanted newborns are dropped off before being transferred to orphanages and foster families.

But on this one night, this baby would shock the nurse and doctor who received it.  The baby was bloody and all over its body, its parent has carved the skin to make it look like a Gucci bag.

Bloody lacerations all over, the doctor and nurses went on to rescue the baby named Yoshio Iizuka.

Flashforward to Tokyo 2011.

The story begins with a freelance photographer named Mariko who is trying to make ends meet and is used to getting high-profile shots and getting paid nicely by major publications.  But one day, life for Mariko but also everyone in Japan would change when an explosion takes place on Tokyo Tower.

Mariko, a photographer can on only do one thing…take pictures of the casualties and the destruction as people try to jump out of Tokyo Tower to escape the fire but at the same time, killing themselves.  But more explosions take place on the tower legs and immediately people around the area know that these explosions are deliberate.

Tokyo Tower has been destroyed by a terrorist attack and many casualties from all around the vicinity.  And as for Mariko, she barely manages to escape the Tower falling on top of her, but yet because of the impact, was knocked unconscious.

While Mariko survived the ordeal, she is the only one who was able to grab photos of the explosion, the destruction and everything that took place from the beginning to the Tokyo Tower collapse, that includes pictures of parents, children leaping to their deaths.  People dying…

Immediately, Tokyo detectives and the police begin looking for the culprit who is responsible.  For Detective Tsuyoshi Isogai from the Atogayama Police Station, he will do all he can to look for whoever is responsible.

The story then begins to focus on the person responsible for this heinous act…

The baby who was mutilated by his mother, Yoshio Iizuka was seen as a person to have grown up healthy and strong-willed.  In fact, the charismatic man became quite adored by the Japanese public for fighting for the rights of abused children and eventually becomes a hero for human rights.

But behind-the-scenes, Iizuka is actually the ringleader of a group of people who have been abused or have had lived tough lives and their hearts are black. They live a facade of caring for people but in truth, they love hurting people, torturing them, killing them with no sense of remorse.

And as the “Caring Man” Yoshio Iizuka is thought to be a respectable man to the public, his goal is to kill off humanity and the Tokyo Tower explosions was just a test.  Now he wants more bloodshed in Tokyo at a grander scale.

Will Dective Isogai find out who is responsible for the string of murders throughout Tokyo and who is responsible for the Tokyo Tower explosions?  What happens to Mariko when she starts fall for the charismatic Yoshio?

“A Caring Man” is probably one of the most twisted, psychological thrillers I have read in a long time.

Methodically written with Arai’s attention to details, I was quite impressed but also a bit sickened as this is one intense novel that will no doubt shock readers.

I must admit that at first, I thought the novel was about police and a photographer trying to catch a terrorist but instead, it became a bit more deeper than that.  The novel is actually a psychological profile of one twisted individual.

From the prologue which begins with Yoshio Iizuka being dropped of with bloody lacerations all over his body and carved to look like a Gucci Bag, just to imagine the visualization of that alone is shocking!  But then as the novel continues, we start to learn how this man, considered as growing up healthy despite being abused as baby, has harbored evil thoughts towards society.

This is one man, who wishes he was not saved by doctors and now, he has nothing but sheer hatred towards them and everyone on the planet.  And he manages to recruit people who have been abused and also feel the same.

And because he is so suave and charismatic, he uses it to his advantage to get Japan to love him (as he champions human rights) but in the background, he and his followers are nothing but murderers and black-hearted individuals who want to inflict pain in society.

And that pain is detailed in the book.  For example, in one instance, a child abuser kills his young son.  Iizuka and his followers are just standing outside the door and have no intention of saving the boy who is being killed but instead, are waiting for the opportunity to get the abuser and torture him.

Akira Arai really goes into detail about the torture, in this case, chopping the abuser up in pieces while he is alive.  I was literally sickened to my stomach because there are quite a few situations throughout the novel where Iizuka’s followers just kill for the sake of what their leader tells them.

And there are several incidents in the book that were just hard to read as it shows how evil these people are.

And as you read and have nothing but hatred towards these evil individuals, your heart sinks even lower as other characters are caught by Iizuka’s charms and to see how he becomes a beloved hero because of the facade of being this humanitarian.  Sickening!

But that is the point that Arai wants to make in this novel that not everyone can be saved.  I’m not sure if Arai’s depiction of Iizuka is based on Japan’s leniency towards its criminals.  Where here in the West, those commit unspeakable crimes are either executed or locked up for the rest of their lives, in Japan, they believe in rehabilitation.

I’ve followed Japanese culture and would read the newspapers and would be incensed of reading stories of people who would kill (multiple people) and then be released later because they were deemed rehabilitated.

“A Caring Man” tries to showcase these individuals who have had major trauma in their life but found themselves a hero in Yoshio.  A hero that would lead them to create chaos in society.  Instead of keeping things within themselves and not breaking the rules, Iizuka…who is looked at as a hero to Japan, instills his teachings to his followers that it’s OK to let it out but do it in a grand fashion.

It’s a twisted logic but that is the focus of the story.

Where in most stories, we get to see how police do all they can to catch the sadistic individual(s), in this case, the focus is more on the evil and how they are able to outwit the police and everyone around them.

Overall, “A Caring Man” was a very well-written psychological thriller.  It’s one of the most dark, twisted but yet satisfying novels I have read.  And it is important to note that there are graphic descriptions of torture in this book.  And for those who can’t stomach it, this book may not be for you.  I don’t mind it but even the details of the horrific torture really made me uncomfortable.

But for those who enjoy psychological, suspenseful thrillers “A Caring Man” by Akira Arai is well-written, cerebral, dark, intense and an entertaining read from beginning to end.

Uncompromising and shocking, Akira Arai’s “A Caring Man” is recommended!

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Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws by Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt (a J!-ENT Book Review

November 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Sure, there are many ninja and samurai books available but authors Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt (known for their last book “Yokai Attack!”) thoroughly research the time period, focus on a variety of real life warriors (as welly as mythical characters), present them, their accomplishments and their demise but also making the book lively, fun and entertaining.  Another wonderful, well-written and highly entertaining book.  Definitely recommended!

TITLE: Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws

BY: Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt

PUBLISHER: Kodanasha International

PAGE COUNT: 196

RELEASED: 2010

Ninja. The word is loaded with connotations, most rooted in fantastic flights of pop culture. But the truth behind these shadowy assassins is more mind-blowing than any manga, more astounding than any anime, more fascinating than any martial-arts flick. Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai, and Outlaws introduces dozens of unforgettable real-life ninja straight out of the annals of Japanese history—many of whom are all but unknown outside of their home country. Ninja masters. Solo assassins and operatives. Femme fatales as deadly as they were sexy. Swordfighters out of legend. And the Shogun and warlords who commanded them. Each individual is profiled with a full-page, full color manga-style drawing, and a dossier brimming with top-secret information, including photos, anecdotes, and dramatic stories of the individuals in action. The book covers ninja clothing styles, the types of weapons that were used, ninja tools, ninja tricks of the trade, and the basics of the ninja diet. It also includes a do-it-yourself tour of ninja related spots in modern Tokyo.

Were you one of those people that watched Sho Kosugi films when you were younger?  Watched Kung Fu cinema on television in hopes that “Super Ninja” would be televised?  Purchased ninja clothes and weapons online so you can be like those ninjas you watched in the movies?

Well, if you were one of those type of people, then “Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws” is definitely a book for you!  And also a book for those who love stories about real life (and fictional) ninjas in general with some added samurai warriors to make this book even more enticing.

Back again are Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt, the husband and wife team who wrote the 2008 book “Yokai Attack!” featuring Japanese mythological spirits and monsters with a humorous take on the subject, the duo does the same with their ninja (and samurai)-driven book by featuring historical facts about these individuals and their affect on Japanese pop culture many, many years later.

As a child, I have always been into ninja storylines and like many kids back in the ’80s, we had access to ninja magazines from our local supermarket and purchasing the latest ninja gear via mail order was not too difficult.  Granted, my parents were not exactly the accepting type and when they found ninja stars and a sai in my closet, needless to say, my collection of ninja magazines were trashed and my hopes to becoming like a ninja were dashed.

Well, fortunately, we had a Japanese American student in our school who claimed his father learned ninjitsu from a descendant who trained from one of the last living ninjas, Grand Master Masaaki Hatsumi but when I went to undergo training from my future ninja teacher, to find out that training would be conducted at his home in a trailer park, needless to say, that moment was the end of my pursuit of trying to become a ninja.

So, the next years of my young teenage life of following ninja was through “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (the black and white comics), whatever was shown in film and the popular “Ninja Gaiden” video game series on the NES and of course, early ninja anime.  Needless to say, I wished I had a book that was easily accessible on ninja adventures when I was younger, something cool that would feature other ninjas and their adventures.  Stories that would show us why they were so bad ass!

Well, fortunately we now have a ninja book that is not about training or the history of one man, this is a book that goes into the story of various men in Japanese history who were dedicated to the life of the Shinobi, those who have lost their way and those who were active in trying to exterminate the various ninja clans.

“Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws” was thoroughly researched and similar to Yoda and Alt’s latest book, a good dose of humor added as well. Also, provided with each chapter on an individual are cool illustrations by Yutaka Kondo.

The book is broken down in various chapters.  The book features “The Illustrated Ninja” which gives the reader information on history, milestones, ninja warring nations, ninja terms, style and weapons, tools, techniques and how the lived.  But the main portion of the book deals with a certain ninja individuals.

In the chapter “Ninja Ninja”, we learned about characters such as Mochizuki Izumo no Kami, Togakushi Daisuke, Hino Kumawaka-Maru, Momochi Tanba, Mochizuki Chiyojo and many more.  In fact, if you play many video games or watch many ninja films, names such as Hattori Hanzo, Matsuo Basho, Sawamura Jinzaburo Yasusuke are also feature.

In each chapter featuring these men, an illustration by Yutaka Kondo are featured and next to it is a file information on that ninja.  From their birth-death, occupation, cause of death, nicknames, hobbies, preferred weapon, clan affiliation and confirmation of that ninja’s existence.

So, for a ninja like Hattori Hanzo, we learn how he is part of the Iga Clan and he uses a spear.  His occupation was a “Jonin” (master ninja) and the chapter would go into describing the man, the moment of their glory, how they died and information of how these ninjas are respected in today’s culture.  In Hanzo’s case, The Hanzomon Line in Tokyo goes to the Hanzo Gate which was a part of the imperial palace.

The next chapter titled “Ninja Gone Bad”, we learn about ninjas such as Ishikawa Goemon, Nippon Zaemon, Fuma Kotaro and Kosaka Jinnai who turned to a life of crime.  Goemon who was once with ninja Iga clan and after his clan were hunted by Nobunaga’s successor Hideoyoshi Toyotomi and Goemon used his skills for profit (which was forbidden).  Unfortunately this ninjas arrival to a village was leaked and the ninja along with his young son were boiled to death in an iron cauldron of oil and his death would influence the name of an iron tub as a “Goemon-buro” (Goemon bath) in Japan.

Another ninja, Nippon Zaemon was like the American gangsters of the early ’30s who would rob the rich and was on the front of the first wanted poster in Japan and featured is the actual text from Zaemon’s wanted poster.

The chapter “Ninja Magic” would focus on ninjas of fiction (and some who were real) in Japanese culture such as En no Ozunu, Kashin Koji, Katoh Danzo, Jiraiya and Sarutobi Sasuke & Kirigakure Saizo.  These ninjas used magic and were hunted down by Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

One of the more popular ninjas to use magic were Jiraiya (a name familiar to manga and anime fans of “Naruto”) who partnered with his sidekick Tsunade and together they fought against injustice.  In Japanese folk tales, Jiraiya was able to summon a large toad and how Japanese pop culture of today has made Jiraiya a major pop culture ninja icon.

The final chapters would deal with ninja rivals, which were typically samurai who fought against the ninja such as ninja rivals Miyamoto Musashi, Yagyu Jubei,  Tomoe Gozen, Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Hanegawa Heizo.  While most of these names are well-known samurai, Yoda and Alt, make sure to showcase the ninja connection with these samurai.  For example, with Miyamoto Musashi, one of the stories of this legendary warrior is how he defeated a warrior named Musashi at the age of 13 and due to the weapons and the location of the duel, it is likely that the man Miyamoto beaten was actually a ninja.

And then there is the chapter of ninja users such as Shotoku Taishi, Takeda Shingen, Sanada Yukimura, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Yoshimune.  Powerful individuals in Japan during that feudal era who would employ ninjas (shinobi) as spies.  One of the most notable figures covered was Takeda Shinen, a man who would create his own spy network in Japan centuries before the KGB and CIA using trained agents who worked covertly as traveling priests and shrine-maidens.

The final chapter would focus on the ninja destroyer, feudal lord Oda Nobunaga, the man who would conquer Japan and would constantly become the target for ninja trying to assassinate him.  While Nobunaga is a man who is covered quite a bit in Japanese books, probably the most interesting story was how Nobunaga had an African man nicknamed Yasuke among his retainers.  I have never heard of an African man working with Nobunaga Oda until I read this book and found it to be quite intriguing.

Overall, the presentation of how this book was written was well-done. The authors definitely made it a book that is fun and reader-friendly, but most of all, it is quite obvious that they did their research on each ninja and samurai and how these popular icons of ninja and samurai glory have been portrayed in Japan today or how they had some influence in Japanese pop culture.

The book is rather thorough and informative and for the most part, I had a great time reading this book as it features a lot of information on ninjas and their lifestyle as well as covering the time period in which many of these clans existed.

“Ninja Attack! True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws” is another enjoyable, awesome book and yet another home run for the the married duo Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt.   Highly recommended!

Train Man: A Shojo Manga by Machiko Ocha (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 6, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

trainman-shojo

A delightful one-shot manga series based on Hitori Nakano’s “Densha Otoko”, this shojo version is highly recommended!

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

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MANGA TITLE: Train Man: A Shojo Manga

STORY AND ART BY: Machiko Ocha

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shinchosa

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Del Rey/Kodansha

RATED: T Ages 16+

RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2006

LONELY HEARTS UNITE!

Geeky fanboy Ikumi Saiki has a dream that someday, somehow, he’ll finally get a girlfriend. Then one day, on the train home, he rescues a beautiful girl from a troublesome drunk. Now the girl sees the hero inside the otaku–and it appears that Ikumi will finally find romance! But though Ikumi found the courage to save her, how will he ever be brave enough to win her heart?

Desperate, Ikumi posts an urgent plea on an Internet message board: “Help me win the girl of my dreams!” Ikumi’s story ignites the whole online world. Everyone is ready to help Ikumi prove that even an otaku can find true love!

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”.

And a third manga adaptation based on Nakano’s “Densha Otoko” titled “Densha Otoko: Ganbare Dokuo!?” written by Hitori Nakano and illustrated by Daisuke Doke was serialized in Akita Shoten’s Weekly Shonen Champion.

And last, a fourth one-shot manga adaptation by Machiko Ocha titled “Densha Otoko: Bijo to Junjō Otaku Seinen no Net-hatsu Love Story?”, released in America by Del Rey Books/Kodansha as “Train Man: A Shojo Manga”.

The version I am reviewing is Ocha’s version which is the one-shot version of Hitori Nakano’s “Densha Otoko” and it’s more Shojo driven in terms of character design and also features a similar but yet different storyline when compared to Hidenori Hara’s “Train_Man: Densha Otoko”.  Most noticeably is the look of the characters and in this one-shot, Mai Kohinata (Hermes) has a boyfriend during the time she meets Ikumi Saiki (Train Man).

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.

What begins with dinner, ends up with several meetings by both Ikumi and Mai but will it lead to love?

“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!

With Ikumi being a person with no experience with women, Train Man must meet Hermes’ friend, but we eventually get to see him mature and also show some guts when he asks Hermes to walk her home but also to visit her at her place for tea. It may not seem much to everyone else, but for Train Man and the netizens of 2CH, Train Man has become an inspiration because he has changed his life to become a better person in order to attract the opposite sex or at least feel comfortable in talking with them.

So, this is the next step for Train Man but will he brave to tell Hermes, how he really feels?

As mentioned, “Train Man: A Shojo Manga” differs from the Hidenori Hara “Train_Man: Densha Otoko” released by Viz Media by look (as Machiko Oka’s version is shojo-based) but also differences in story.  Mai (Hermes) has a boyfriend which is never mentioned in Hara’s manga version and as important plot to Machiko Oka’s storyline.

Also, in Ocha’s version, there is a storyline of Mai being frightened after being groped inside a train (a common problem in Japan) but in Hara’s version, she just wants to ride the train and be closer to Ikumi.

And most importantly, this is a one-shot, where as Hara’s is a three-volume manga series.  But both have their positives and negatives and while a similar storyline, I enjoy them differently because of the differences in art, storyline and how the supporting anonymous members of 2CH are featured.

Overall, if you enjoyed Hidenori Hara’s “Train_Man: Densha Otoko” and are a shojo manga fan, I do recommend giving Machiko Ocha’s version a try as well!

A delightful one-shot manga series based on Hitori Nakano’s “Densha Otoko”, this shojo version is highly recommended!

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