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What is Japanese Anime?

Anime is a term for animation produced in Japan which has a very distinctive style that tends to feature bright colors and themes that Americans wouldn’t associate with cartoons. The word itself is the shortened form of the word animation in Japanese, and this form of entertainment has taken the Western world by storm over the last several decades.

The origin of anime’s unique style can be traced back to the 1960s, even though Japan was producing cartoons and animations as far back as 1917. Some of the earliest examples that Western audiences might recognize are the original “Astro Boy,” “8 Man,” and even the popular “Speed Racer” and “Voltron” series. However, as technology has advanced, various studios have created their own art styles and unique looks. Some have even experimented with 3D animation, leaving the distinctive, hand drawn style behind for many projects, though part of the appeal of anime is its unique, Japanese art style.

Another thing that makes anime really stand out, particularly among Western audiences, is that the themes it features run the gamut from child-friendly to highly provocative adult themes and everything in between. This isn’t a standard that a lot of audiences are used to, since we usually associate animation to be something for kids. The shock value of cartoon death matches can sometimes be enough to get an audience’s interest alone. However, the stories that anime tells also make it a unique form of culture and a distinctive story-telling mechanism.

Anime covers a variety of genres, from fantasy pieces like “Berserk,” to science fiction classics like “Armitage the III,” but no matter in what the genre the series or movie is taking place, anime is told with a distincly Japanese flair. Puns and slapstick comedy are some of the staples of an anime series, even those that have deathly serious plots and that feature characters with humorless professions or dispositions. Additionally, many anime series feature characters from countries foreign to Japan, and the way those characters are viewed is seen through a different cultural lens. For instance, American characters tend to be larger, rude, brash and occasionally brutish. Chinese characters may be seen as overly concerned with ceremony and history. Russian characters may be seen as convicts, killers or otherwise dangerous men and women. It’s a window into the way Japan views foreign countries, as well as a different way of telling a story.

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Otaku and 2ch

In modern Japanese slang, otaku refers to an overly obsessed fan of any one particular theme, topic, or hobby. The term is used most commonly with anime or manga otaku, but by itself just means “fanatic.” Thus, there are many varieties of otaku in Japan, such as paso-kon otaku (personal computer geeks), game otaku, idol otaku, tetsudou otaku (metrophiles), or gunji otaku (military geeks), etc. Furthermore, while in Japanese the term otaku possesses a fairly derogatory air about it, internationally, the term has evolved to mean, simply, an obsessed fan of Japanese manga or anime (or more broadly, Japanese popular culture). Thus, outside of Japan, serious devotees of anime and/or manga proudly refer to themselves as otaku. Train Man: Densha Otoko is the allegedly true story of one otaku who posted his story on the famous internet bulletin board 2ch ( 2ch is the largest internet forum in the world. With over ten million visitors a day, 2ch is gaining a significant profile in Japanese society, competing for influence with traditional mass media such as television, radio, and magazines. 4-ch ( is an English-language website, with discussion boards for English speakers, presented in the style of 2ch. It also contains a board where Japanese 2ch users can talk to each other in Japanese.

Read More about Otaku Subcultures!

Cruising the Anime City: An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo
By Patrick Macias and Tomohiro Machiyama
(Stone Bridge Press, 2004, ISBN 1-880656-88-4)

If you’re into anime and manga, there’s no place like Neo Tokyo. Here, otaku dress-up cosplay-style for real, more than 100,000 fans attend cons to buy and trade their favorite wares, and anime soundtracks are performed in concert halls. Neo Tokyo is where anime has become both urban fashion and cultural zeitgeist, and this is its first street-smart guide in English. Featuring interviews with tastemakers, it covers studios, toys, museums, games, film “locations,” music, plus where to hang and how to cruise. Four-color, with maps and index.

Japan Edge
By Satoru Fujii, Carl Gustav Horn, Mason Jones,
Patrick Macias, and Yuji Oniki
(Cadence Books, 1999, ISBN: 1569313458)

This lively, idiosyncratic survey of Japanese film, music, animation, and comics showcases the experiences of five avid American fans: journalist Carl Gustav Horn, who writes about anime; critic and musician Mason Jones, who releases Japanese alternative music on his Charnel Music record label; Patrick Macias, a writer on Asian film for the San Francisco Bay Guardian; Matt Thorn, a translator and expert on shojo (girls’) manga; and Yuji Oniki, a student of Japanese mass media.


The opening of Train Man: Densha Otoko takes place in the central Tokyo neighborhood of Akihabara. Filled with urban noise and neon lights, this “Electric Town” provides the setting for a true love story. Akihabara (referred to by locals as akiba) is known as one of the largest shopping areas on Earth for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods. It’s known around the world as the mecca of otaku culture. Akiba otaku lead a unique lifestyle, based around technological interests and love for anime and manga. It’s a lifestyle that’s made them outsiders in Japanese society. However, recently, with the rapid growth of the anime and manga market in Japan, otaku culture has gained a higher profile and generated greater interest in the Japanese media. The film Train Man: Densha Otoko is based on a bestselling book, Densha Otoko, released in 2005, that generated a mass-media craze over all things otaku. >> go to Akihabara Links

Rental Showcase and Gacha Gacha

The first appearance of “Train_Man” in the movie has him shopping at a “rental showcase” shop in Akihabara. In these shops, you can rent display cases for action figures, miniatures, promotional tie-in prizes, premium trading cards, vintage gacha gacha toys, etc. Gacha gacha is a coin-driven toy dispensing machine, somewhat like what you at the entrance of supermarkets in America. In the movie, a gacha gacha machine appears in a street scene in Akihabara, where an otaku guy gets excited over his gacha gacha toy. Originally, gacha gacha were meant for children, but recently a great deal of excitement has been generated over toys for grown-ups (as distinguished from “adult toys”). These “toys for grown-ups” are usually well-crafted figurines, sold for 100-200 yen, depending on the complexity of the item. All gacha gacha toys come in a spherical plastic capsule, something that Train_Man happens to drop on the subway, though in this case the capsule doesn’t come directly from a gacha gacha, but from the rental showcase shop. >> go to Rental Showcases Links

Manga Café

A manga café (or manga kissa in Japanese) is a kind of café in Japan where customers can read manga. Customers pay for the time they stay in the café. They may also be offered internet access, video games, television, magazines, and beverages as part of the fee. They can order snacks for extra, and more luxurious and newer cafés may even offer massage chairs or spa rooms. The history of manga cafés is a long one. The first manga cafés opened in Nagoya in the late 1970′s. These tended to be ordinary coffee shops offering a large collection of manga available for customers to read on the premises. Nowadays the cost for a manga café is around $4-5 an hour. Some manga cafes even offer a service where customers can stay the night for only about $13, which is nice for people who missed the last subway. In April 2006, a man was arrested for living in a manga cafe for 34 days without paying. >> go to Manga Café Links

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Cast & Staff

Takayuki Yamada Train_Man (Densha Otoko)

Born on 20th October 1983 in Kagoshima, first started out co-starring in a handful of TV dramas before making a big splash on”Waterboys” (TV 2003), followed with “Fireboys” (TV 2004), his award winning performance in “Crying out love in the center of the world” (TV 2004). He made his movie debut in “Train Man:Densha Otoko”.

Official Website

Miki Nakatani Hermess

Born 12 January 1976 in Tokyo, first started as a member of the singing group before appearing in TV dramas and commercials since 1993. After her first starring in a big hit drama “KEI-ZOKU” and famous horror film sequel “RINGU 2″, she became a regular favorite both on TV and Movies. She was casted for the role of Hermess in “Train Man:Densha Otoko” due to the fact that the actual Hermess looks like Miki Nakatani according to the original book.

Official Website

Eita………………………………………………………….Hirofumi (twixter)
Tae Kimura……………………………………….Michiko (housewife)
Ryoko Kuninaka…………………………………………..Rika (nurse)
Kuranosuke Sasaki…………………..Hisashi (business man)
Yoshinori Okada……………………………………Yoshiga (geek 1)
Hiroki Miyake…………………………………………Tamura (geek 2)
Makoto Sakamoto………………………………………Muto (geek 3)
Naomi Nishida……………………………………….Hermess’s friend
Momoko Shimizu………………………………………………Schoolgirl
Ren Osugi……………………………………………………………drunkard

DIRECTORShosuke MurakamiBASED ON THE ORIGINAL BOOK BYHitori Nakano SCREENPLAYArisa Kaneko EXECUTIVE PRODUCERSMinami Ichikawa and Hiroyoshi Koiwai
PRODUCERSYoshishige Shimatani, Yoshikazu Seki, Yoshiro Hosono, and Yoshiro Yasunaga
CO-PRODUCERSAkihiro Yamaguchi,Tomoyo Nihira, and Hideki Inada
PLANNINGGenki Kawamura and Kei HarunaVISUAL EFFECTSHirofumi Yoshikawa
CINEMATOGRAPHYYoshihiro Katayama and Shigeki Murano ART DIRECTORKazuo Yanagawa
LIGHTINGMasamitsu Hanaoka EDITINGJunosuke Hogaki SCRIPT SUPERVISORHidemi Kawano
CASTINGYoshiyuki Maejima ORIGINAL MUSIC BYTakayuki Hattori
ENDING THEME SONG BYOrange Range (Sony Music )

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The True Story That Launched An Internet Sensation

Train Man: Densha Otoko is the film inspired by the phenomenal bestseller by Hitori Nakano that has taken Japan by storm. Based on true events that took place on a popular Bulletin Board website in Japan called “2ch,” this fairy-tale-like story has become a media sensation, and been adapted in book, comic, television drama, and movie formats. Released in 2005, the movie became an instant hit, grossing over 35 million dollars in Japan.

One Geek. One Beauty.
One Thousand Noisy Chat Room Residents…

Computer engineer Otaku (the Japanese term for “geek”) is an average young man, dressed in unstylish clothes and dorky glasses. But as luck would have it, he encounters a pretty young woman on a commuter train and saves her from a lecherous molester, falling in love with her at first sight. A few days later he receives a thank-you message from the woman along with a set of Hermes teacups. Having never had a girlfriend or received a gift from a girl in his life, Otaku seeks out his pals on his BBS website for advice using his codename Train_Man (Densha Otoko): “How should I ask her out?” Deeply interested in Train Man’s first love, his BBS pals eagerly supply him with advice. Encouraged by their support, Train_Man undergoes a total makeover for his first-ever date with “Hermess”. Little does he know that he is about to ignite an Internet phenomenon…

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