Densha Otoko/Train Man
One of my greatest finds during my romantic comedy bender was this charming adaptation of the Densha Otoko, or Train Man, media franchise based on a true story posted on 2ch many years ago. I have a lot of good things to say about this one and it left me feeling very impressed after its short three volume run. I hear there are a whole five other manga adaptation of Densha Otoko but that this one is still hailed as the greatest. I haven’t read the others but I don’t really feel that I need to. (I am a bit curious though…)
The story itself is very, very simple. Like incredibly so, but it’s the presentation that sells this manga home and close to your heart. It starts with a scraggy, worthless otaku virgin 22 years of age… Wait a minute this is already hitting way too close to home for my tastes. A-anyway he returns from the holyland of his kind, Akihabara with a bag of moe goods that he hopes will stimulate his loneliness. He gazes longingly at a pretty girl on the train home when suddenly a random drunk misogynist starts bellowing random shit about women on the train. Instead of being passive about it, the protagonist stands up to this fellow by summoning courage for the first time in his life. The drunkard is brought to justice and the girl he gazed at approaches him and ends up asking for his contact info so she can give him a proper thank you gift.
Like I said, the story is really basic and not exaggerated at all. It’s definitely something that happens in real life. What makes it so good however is that following the original story in real life the Otaku begins posting his ongoing story on the image board website 2ch. Whereas people are anonymous in real life, the author uses this opportunity to give faces and personalities to the posters in the original Densha Otoko thread. The posters are a really great part of the story telling and even though you never get to know their names there are recurring posters who tell their story by interacting with the Densha Otoko. They give him advice in his love, push him forward and when necessary call him out on his shit. It’s a bit heartwarming when you see that this really happened and people were actually this invested in helping some random dude on the Internet with his love.
Also of mention is the incredible artwork. The author has a very prevalent 90s style in his manga yet the characters are very distinct with very fun body language and poses. You can tell he really gets into the heads of his characters and figures out how they all move. I don’t want to spoil the story, but you get to watch Densha Otoko transform himself for the better and become a better person with actual direction. Definitely do yourself a favor and go read this now.