contemporary, love story

Review: Train Man by Hitori Nakano

I’m in a state of overcoming my art block this week. And with it comes the blogging slump, which obviously sucks. Good thing that I am on the right track now. It’s always hard to start something when you are just not up to it, right?

But let’s not wallow in that dark corner. haha. I’ve chosen to review a lighthearted comedy called Train Man by Hitori Nakano.

Densha Otoko novel.jpg

Synopsis: Train Man is based on the purportedly true story of a 23 year old otaku (japanese term for people with obsessive interests in anime and manga fandom) who intervened when a drunk man tried to harass several women on the train. He particularly catches the attention of a soft spoken woman, which the forum people endearingly nicknamed as Hermes, who he “saved” that day. He then writes and posts  the story of meeting Hermes in the mega BBS 2channel (which is an internet forum). This attracts the attention of hoards of otakus alike who proceeded to cheer on Train Man’s journey to get the girl of his dreams.

What I think about it: I initially saw Train Man as film on cable TV. I enjoyed the film and thought it was hilariously adorable. So when I happened to see the book version of the film, I was curious and immediately picked it up. The thing that immediately caught my attention is the writing format which was written as forum conversations. Train Man tells his story to some random strangers on the internet and over night it becomes viral and the next few weeks becomes a series of telenovela-like events that everyone is talking about. It is kind of an apt description of the generation we are in, where everything that seems remotely interesting goes viral. There is a debate of whether this story is true or not, do Train Man and Hermes really exist?Or was it just a media stun so it can eventually garner an unending manga, film and television franchise.

Whatever it is, whoever the author is, and even if its true or fictional, I still enjoyed reading it. Train Man’s character is the reflection of our insecurities. But he presents as a hopeful human being that strives to become a better man because, well he fell in love, hard, for the girl who showed him such kindness. Hermes on the other hand, is portrayed as an ideal woman. Not surprising though, because what we know of her is what has Train Man told us. Which makes me think that this may be a fictional story. It’s written like a fan fiction of some shoujo manga.

The book is a quick read, I finished it in a day and a half, since most of the lines where repeated so that it can emulate that internet forum feel. It is a lighthearted story that had subtle emotional beats every now and then. As a reader, you’d find yourself cheering Train Man too as he finds his self confidence, and realizing that love is all about taking chances. I mean, how can anything start if you don’t take the first step?

PS: Adele’s 25 just dropped, listening to it now and I am just a puddle of tears.. (T-T)


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