Train Man: Densha Otoko
"Train Man doesn't try too hard to be amusing, and it doesn't play into easy geek stereotypes, either."
Train Man: Densha Otoko (2005)
Director: Shosuke Murakami
Writer: Arisa Kaneko, based on the original book by Hitori Nakano
Producer: Yoshishige Shimatani, Yoshikazu Seki, Yoshiro Hosono, Yoshiro Yasunaga
Cast: Yamada Takayuki, Nakatani Miki
Running Time: 100 min.
Plot: A sweet, quirky, romantic comedy. Takayuki Yamada's overacting is distracting and becomes tiresome by the end, but overlook that and you'll find a sincere heart at this movie's core.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
NINGEN'S REVIEW: Tell me if you've heard this one before: Fanboy helps girl, girl calls back, girl actually starts to like fanboy for being himself, and fanboy learns how to approach women. Yes, Train Man proves that even the Japanese can come up with unbelievable romantic comedies as much as Hollywood. The title of the film is (allegedly) based on a true story of a geek who helps a woman from getting attacked by a drunk guy on a train. She shows her gratitude by buying him gifts and taking him out on a date. (Of course, my personal experience is that the chick would prefer the drunk asshole, because he'd be considered more manly, but you gotta dream, right?) Anyway, he gets dating advice from his fellow geeks on the "internets", and not only dresses for success, but is even able to impress his lady-friend with his disposable pop culture knowledge. (It must be because she looks old enough to be his mother, since someone who actually is his age would expect him to have a flashy car and a lot of spending money.)
Nonetheless, to be somewhat realistic, Train Man still feels out of place in "Hermes" world, since he's living at home(but not in his parents' basement) and spends most of his time buying figurines, while she's an executive doing international business deals. So he morphs from a regular nerd into an emo nerd, and his online buddies are the only ones who can bail him out of his self-loathing. Of course, if this were real life, he'd either be faking his suicide or starting up a LiveJournal about how he screwed up a sure thing and ask people to buy him crap on Paypal as a show of support. But then it would be a real comedy. Anyway, despite my contempt for and bitter reaction to the film, I did enjoy it for what it was, which is fluff. Train Man doesn't try too hard to be amusing, and it doesn't play into easy geek stereotypes, either. (Although it does take itself a little seriously by the end, considering the couple barely know each other.) It's clearly a movie meant for underdogs, and you might even find yourself cheering along with the peanut gallery for the male lead to overcome his obstacles to be with the woman he loves.
NINGEN'S RATING: 8/10 if you're a romantic, 4/10 if you're a realist