Train Man

train man

Train Man (電車男)
Made in: Japan
Language: Japanese
Director: Shosuke Murakami
Starring: Takayuki Yamada, Miki Nakatani, Ryoko Kuninaka, Naomi Nishida
Year: 2005

Synopsis: Based on a novel, manga series, and TV show, this is supposedly a true story. The story focuses on a lonely, socially inept, and timid Otaku (Japanese word for geek). Played by Takayuki Yamada, he's a big pop culture enthusiast who collects comic books, action figures, and does just about all the other nerdy things that will never get him laid. EVER. His only social outlet is communicating with strangers over the internet.

One day, while riding the train home from work, he notices a young woman (Miki Nakatani) and is instantly smitten. Too afraid to approach her, he just sits there looking scared. But when a drunken businessman harasses her one night, he intervenes and keeps the offender at bay until the authorities arrive. Grateful for this act of bravery, the young woman sends the lovelorn geek a very expensive gift as a show of gratitude.

Soon after, the two begin dating. Completely clueless about how to talk to girls, he seeks advice from his circle of online friends. They're a diverse bunch, made up of both geeks as well as normal people. Adopting the online handle, Denshu Otako (Train Man), he keeps them updated with every development in his romantic journey.

The Good: The premise is interesting, and it touches upon the development of technology and how it has affected modern social interaction. The actors are pretty good, and the movie is very well shot. Parts of the story are also told in visually creative ways, either through stylized filmwork or editing.

The Bad: Viewers understand that a romantic comedy isn't meant to be taken too seriously, and that some suspension of disbelief is in order. But the story of Train Man is totally implausible.

The geek protagonist has no backbone, is always trembling like a coke addict, and is barely coherent when he speaks. Yet we're supposed to believe that his beautiful, flawless love interest (who's amazingly never had a boyfriend in her 25+ years of existence) takes absolutely no issue with his stuttering, lack of normal social adjustment, and inability to talk about anything except technology.

Yet, all of that's apparently okay with her. And furthermore, she finds it irresistibly endearing and cute. Please! At the film's climax, train man bursts into tears and declares his love while admitting what a loser he is. It is painful and nauseating to watch, and is the romantic equivalent of a scene out of a Dario Argento movie.

And somehow we're supposed to believe that this is what every geek needs to do in order to win the girl. It's pathetic at best, and irresponsibly misleading at worst.

Who would like this movie: Unless you want to watch a movie that shows, in painstaking detail, what not to do while dating, I'd recommend that you miss Train Man. It's an insult to geeks and women of all cultures.

(1 & 1/2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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