By Leroy Douresseaux
April 22, 2007 - 21:40
Densha Otoko: The Story of the Train Man Who Fell in Love with a Girl, Vol. 3 concludes the story of a shy young man who pursues his first girlfriend. He is an “otaku,” (nerd, geek, fanboy, etc.), spending his time fixating on Anime, toys, videogames, etc. When he helps a young woman on a passenger train fend of an unwarranted advance, he makes a fan in the young woman, who eventually asks him out on a date.
The young man chronicles his budding relationship on the “Channel 2” message board with other “poison men” (guys who don’t date, although there are women also on the board). His fellow poison men dub him “Train Man” and the girl Train rescues is called “Hermess” after an expensive thank you gift she gives him. As this three-volume manga series closes, Train must get up the nerve to tell Hermess-san how he really feels, and this time his pals are determined that he not fail. They pour on the advice, but will it be enough to break through Train’s psychological wall that blocks him from being confident and saying “I love you?”
I wouldn’t call Densha Otoko great manga, but it is entertaining and quite visually effective. Mangaka Wataru Watanabe (adapting a story by Hitori Nakano) puts everything on the page for the reader to see. Through these words and pictures, I can feel Train’s desperation and fear, as much as I can feel the frustration of his message board friends, who just want him to get on with it and tell Hermess how he really feels about her.
It’s a sweet story, and Watanabe understands the visual metaphor of the comics medium, which allows him to deliver his story with a force that captures the quiet awkwardness of two shy people. As romance comics go, Densha Otoko matches more traditional shojo manga (comics for teenage girls), and what fanboy couldn’t appreciate this kind of love story.
Thanks to barnesandnoble.com for images.