Friday, January 20, 2006

Long live the geek in all of us... Go Densha Otaku!




More on Densha Otaku

I never considered myself the kind of person who develops obsessions... other than knitting and maybe reading on history/philosopy... but Densha Otaku has now officially become the first obsession of the year. Maybe I relate to the drama because there's a big part of me who's pretty much an Otaku nerd myself.

It's really easy to route for hero 'little Densha/aka. Yamada-san,' as well as laugh vengefully when Densha's more attractive, well-off and socially acceptable rival get's dissed by the girl.
But what I've really fallen in love with when it comes to this story is simply the idea that you can thrive with self-confidence by simply accepting yourself as you are, and that you're more likely to find better friends and partners once you've embraced this concept. As one character asks... "What about otaku pride!?"

One thing I will caution viewers about with this story... watching just one show can be mentally/emotionally taxing mainly because you're held at the edge of your seat... that and Densha/Yamada's over-the-top reactions can add to the stress of the viewing experience.

What does seem clear is that this internet pygmallion story does seem to have captured the whole heart and attention of japan. Apparently based on a real life thread on a chat section, the posting room became so popular that the text of the site was compiled and published and a few hundered thousand copies were sold in the next few weeks. The story has inspired numerous manga, the T.V. Series, a movie and even a play.

What does this say about modern relationships and how people reach out to each other?Apparently technology does fill a void. At least in Japan. Without the help of his Aladdin chat comrades, Densha would never have been able to muster up the courage to change himself, while looking inside of himself to see what was undeniably him and perhaps the qualities that really did make him attractive. Strangely, anominity available in the chat atmosphere might inspire people like the characters in the show to be more honest and forthcoming. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing the whole idea of having friends online. I can see the appeal, but believe that it's still good to keep lines out in the real world.

Funny how I as I watch this show, I keep thinking in horror that Disney will buy the story and convert it to some crappy 4th rate plot with moralistic overtones featuring the Olsen twins. God no! I hate how American corporate entertainment culture takes a good story and absolutely ruins it. They must be stopped!

P.S. you may recognize the ELO soundtrack/anime theme opening from the revolutionary Daikon reels from early Anime history.

More about the show:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Densha_Otoko


Article on a play based on the story...
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?ft20050907a1.htm
Recently, there has been a sense of stagnation in the Japanese contemporary drama world following a period of lively international collaboration -- the wholesale acceptance of foreign texts has led to adaptations that don't take into consideration the real difficulties in translating them for a Japanese audience. But this "Densha Otoko" is proof indeed that there are still people here with plenty to say -- in marvelously creative ways -- about the society in which we live.

Known for his varied multimedia works, Tsutsumi builds a huge screen as a backdrop, with multilevel towers to either side of the stage, where otaku sit in front of PC screens in their four-tatami rooms. As each of these geeks communicates with the others, what they type comes up on the big screen, where their lives are also described as they themselves act out their roles.


From Japan Times:
http://www.japantimes.com/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?ek20041118br.htm

A new best seller has appeared, bringing an old-fashioned love story into the digital age. "Densha Otoko (Trainman)," whose author writes under the pseudonym Nakano Hitori, is the saga of the romance of a 22-year-old otaku, the "Trainman," with "Miss Hermes," an attractive young woman he saves from the unwelcome attentions of a drunk on a train on his way home from Akihabara (Tokyo's otaku Mecca).
This story first came to public attention as postings from March through May this year on a message board on the Web site 2 Channel (Nichanneru) in which Trainman asked for and received advice from fellow geeks on how to approach Miss Hermes. These postings from Trainman reporting on the progress of his new relationship, and of encouragement from hundreds of anonymous well-wishers, were published in book-form by Shinchosha last month, selling over 260,000 copies in three weeks.
The tale of Trainman's transformation from a hapless geek to a self-confident young man in a relationship with an actual real-life young woman is indeed heartwarming. In his first posting he tells of his chance encounter in the train; two days later he receives a set of Hermes teacups from her as a thank-you gift and obsesses online on whether or not to telephone her and ask for a date. Finally he plucks up the courage to call her and they agree to meet for dinner -- his first ever date with a woman.


Blog about otaku-ness:
http://www.cjas.org/~leng/lainspotting/2005/07/otaku-mania.html

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