Do you remember your first date? How about the first time a special someone made your stomach backflip for gold? What about that time you tried to impress someone with how cool you are? If you can remember your awkward attempts at love, then Train Man (Densha Otoko) still rings a bell after eighteen years. The story of an otaku who finds love after saving a young woman from being harassed on a train, Train Man is a romantic comedy franchise that began in 2004. It comprises a novel, movie, television series, four manga series, and a play. The story itself began on White Day, a day of giving back to others.
A True Love Story?
Train Man is supposedly based on true events. The story originated on 2channel, the Japanese message board, on March 14th, 2004. An anonymous poster related his attempt to help three women on a train who were being harassed by a drunk salaryman. The youngest of the three sent the poster, christened ‘Densha Otoko’ (Train Man), a pair of Hermès teacups. Hermès is a French luxury design house, established in 1837, that creates high-quality goods ranging from accessories such as watches to clothes, perfumes, and home furnishings. A single teacup with saucer costs between $250 and $965. After receiving this expensive gift, Densha Otoko contacts her and asks her out. Online, the young woman becomes known as Hermès. Densha Otoko posts he has no dating experience and gets advice from 2channel users. He updates his appearance with a haircut and wardrobe change, which, along with a few successful dates, help to build his confidence. After a month, Densha Otoko confesses his love to Hermès. When he tells his fellow 2channel users, the forum explodes with congratulations for the couple. By mid-May, Densha Otoko posts that he and Hermès are planning on having sex. After derogatory comments from a few users, Densha Otoko abandons the message board. The public has not seen the actual couple behind the story, except for the producers of the franchise.
All Aboard for a Bestseller
The Train Man franchise officially began with the novel, which was released on October 22nd, 2004. Its author, Nakano Hitori, is a pseudonym. It stands for naka no hitori, meaning one of the group. The novel uses the actual posts to tell the story. Out of almost 30,000 posts, only about 2,000 made it into the book. It became a bestseller. In April 2007, Train Man saw its U.S. release.
Next Stop: Manga
The success of the novel spawned four manga versions. The first two manga, released in March 2005, were seinen and shonen versions. A seinen version, Densha Otoko: The Story of a Train Man Who Fell in Love with A Girl was written by Wataru Watanabe, author of Yowamushi Pedal. Train Man: Go, Poison Man! was the shonen version with the author credited as Nakano Hitori, with the artist being Daisuke Dōke. He would later create the 2012 manga The Child Who Cannot Understand Pain. The third manga, Train Man: Densha Otoko, was another seinen work. It premiered in April 2005 and was authored by Hidenori Hara. He is known for Hoshi no Furumachi (When You Wish Upon a Star). His latest manga is Dump the Heel. The last manga, released in June 2005, was a shōjo series by Machiko Ocha titled Train Man: A Shōjo Manga.
Now Boarding for Movies and Drama
The Train Man movie premiered in Japanese theaters on March 26th, 2005. The movie starred Takayuki Yamada as Densha Otoko and Miki Nakatani as Hermès. Takayuki Yamada is best known for his roles in Crows Zero, Gantz, and as Elizabeth in the Gintama movie. Miki Nakatani starred in several Ring movies. The Train Man drama aired on July 7th, 2005, and lasted for eleven episodes, plus one special. It starred Atsushi Itō and Misaki Ito as Densha Otoko and Hermès, respectively. Atsushi Itō had a role in the live-action Casshern while Misaki Ito was in the 2002 Ju-on: The Grudge and the Maison Ikkoku drama. Both Atsushi Itō and Misaki Ito have a brief cameo in the Train Man movie.
End of the Line
Whether the Train Man story is true or not is irrelevant. The story is sweet and endearing. At its core, it is about a person wanting to be a better version of themselves and succeeding. It doesn’t hurt to get a bit of love and acceptance along the way too. Have a happy day, and don’t forget to do something nice for the people who accept and help you.