By Leroy Douresseaux
March 13, 2007 - 12:34
DENSHA OTOKO, VOL. 1
CARTOONIST: Wataru Watanabe
ISBN: 1-4012-1141-0; soft cover; Comedy; "T" for Teen: Violence and Language
182 pp., B&W, $9.99
A painfully shy young man has a chance encounter with a young woman on a train that may change his lonely life. An "otaku," (nerd, geek, fanboy, etc.) he spends his time fixating on DVD's and memorabilia, but when the young woman, whom he calls "Hermess-san," reenters his life, the young man needs help. He turns to an online chat group of which he is part, the "Poison Men." The group dubs the timid fellow, "Train Man," and helps him find the will to see Hermess-san again.
In Densha Otoko: The Story of the Train Man Who Fell in Love with a Girl, Manga-ka Wataru Watanabe adapts a Hitori Nakano story of love born from a chance encounter on a train. According to notes in Vol. 1, Nakano's original story is based upon something that may have really happened. Regardless of the authenticity of the original story Watanabe's tale feels so authentic - from Train Man's heartrending shyness and obsession with not connecting with other people to his awkward attempts to contact Hermess-san and his confused journey to improve his appearance.
In word and pictures, Watanabe transports the reader right into the heart of the matter and into the heart of Train Man. Watanabe mixes pretty girl illustration with superb cartooned realism and tempered super-deformed to create Manga that is more like American indie comics than the vast majority of Japanese comics. With Densha Otoko, CMX offers a title that cross genres and may jump the borders of readers' diverse tastes.
Thanks to barnesandnoble.com for the images.