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Densha Otoko – The Book

Densha Otoko which means “Train man” in Japanese is a shonen genre book. This book has been used as an example about the stereotypical nice guy who happens to be a geek and wishes for a girlfriend but is too shy to openly speak to others. Densha Otoko has turned into a popular success in Japan, as it has a television series, a full feature length film, and a manga series. The plot of the novel is described as the “internet generation love story from Japan”. It recounts what is possibiliy a true tale of a young otaku man who helps many girls from a drunkard on a train. The otaku man eventually ends up getting a girlfriend out his bravery. 

The story starts out when the young man witnesses a drunk harassing women aboard the train and struggles to stop the aggravation. Every time he finds himself in this situation, the women come up to him and thank him deeply for his kindness. The otaku, who never had this form of appreciation before, shared his experiences with posters on a forum called 2channel. From then on, he was dubbed Densha Otoko. One of the women showed her appreciation by sending him a fancy set of saucers and cups from Hermes. He was shocked at this gift and turned to his fellow 2channel posters for suggestions on the matter. The Train Man finally had several outings with the woman and began to change his nerdy demeanor, becoming more confident in his persona and looks. The novel’s success was international due to how many young men could relate to the main character and his shyness. The original novel was released on October 22nd, 2004 in Japan. An English translated version came out in 2007, which was published by Del Rey Books.

The way the book is presented is definitely unique compared to other Japanese novels. The story is written as 2channel posts that follow through fifty seven days. The story is made up into six chapters and has over twenty thousand posts from the train man himself and other 2channel posters with whom he converses. The author of the book is left anonymous under the pseudonym Nakano Hitori, which is a play on the words “Naka no hitori”, a word used to describe people who post on internet forums. Densha Otoko has played a large part in the popular culture of Japan and serves as inspiration for otakus who have trouble coming out of their shells.

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