Last week in my class Japanese Society and Culture through Film we watched the movie Densha Otoko directed by Shosuke Murakami. The subject of the class: the otaku.
I’m not kidding. My college is the best.
I enjoyed the movie for personal reasons and quickly realized I had to blog about it.
As defined by my professor, “Otaku is Japanese geek.” Really, there’s a bit more to it than that. An otaku is anyone with an obsessive and possibly “nerdy” interest, such as anime, computer games, video games, computer software, etc. I have long considered myself a mild anime otaku. So does my roommate, and so do a good number of my friends from Fort Mill.
This movie concerns itself more with the “hardcore otaku”: the type so lost in their own worlds of anime and computer games that they care little for contact with the outside world.
Train Man, the movie’s main character (called Aoyama in the TV show), is based on a 23-year-old Akihabara dweller. Yes, it’s a True Story story. One of my absolute favorite kinds. One day on the bus, he spies a beautiful girl. When a drunk starts harassing her, our timid, nerdtastic little hero stands up, setting in motion a train of events that will change his life.
The things I liked about the movie included the creative approach to creating the otaku’s world. The opening credits and the pixelated fireworks, the ways they portrayed his chat with various people and used the chat messages to creative ends. That much was amazing. So was the movie’s ability to get a room full of college students laughing. When you’re with a group, the boy with the bunny is hysterical.
Then there was the climax, which seemed to take forever. In American and Western fiction, a climax is generally one moment, one scene, one critical point. In Japanese ficiton, I’ve noticed, climaxes drag out. They function less as a point and more as an extended segment. A part of me feels like whining, “Get on with it,” even though it’s probably a more realistic approach to storytelling. In real life, there’s rarely a neat one-scene climax.
Also interesting is the attractiveness of the supposedly repulsive otaku. Even in his horrible getups or his horrible moments of pathetic weakness, a majority of the girls in the classroom were sighing and saying they wanted to hug him. The boys couldn’t believe it. You have more allure than you think, nerds!
To be perfectly honest, this movie is probably not great. But I enjoyed it profoundly. Therefore, I shall grant it: 3 1/2 Stars!
But I love it. ❤