By Leroy Douresseaux
March 15, 2007 - 12:57
In Densha Otoko: The Story of the Train Man Who Fell in Love with a Girl, Vol. 2, Train Man and Hermess begin going out to dinner together. Is it too much for Train Man to hope that they become a couple? When Hermess brings her judgmental friend, Maki, along for dinner, Train Man figures its over, but Hermess just may need her champion again.
To create the romantic comedy Densha Otoko, Manga-ka Wataru Watanabe adapts a Hitori Nakano story of love born from a chance encounter on a train. This is a very engaging story. It's like a sporting event. If you get into it, you root for the agonizingly awkward and neurotic Train Man to just get his head in the game. You're praying that he gets a clue that Hermess really likes him. Don't play it safe, Train Man! If you play not to lose, you may very well lose. Thus, the reader becomes as much a part of the cheerleading as Train Man's chat room supporters.
Watanabe is quite skilled as a cartoonist. He's superb at drawing sets, backgrounds and environments, and he's just as good at cartooning anatomy. He draws beautiful faces, with those big expressive eyes, the kind many comic book fans associate with Manga and Anime. The eyes however emphasize expressions of emotions and amplify internal monologues, such as when Train Man is frantic, angry, or lonely. Watanabe clearly understands that visuals in comics should be more than just pretty. They have to be perfectly clear when communicating character, and that's how Watanabe makes Densha Otoko a success.
Thanks to barnesandnoble.com for one of the images.