Mania Grade: A
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- Art Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: A
- Text/Translatin Rating: B
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Released By: CMX
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 182
- ISBN: 1-4012-1141-0
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Densha Otoko Vol. #01
By Matthew Alexander
November 03, 2006
Release Date: October 08, 2006
Densha Otoko Vol.#01
Writer/Artist:Original Story: Hitori Nakano Writer/Artist: Wataru Watanabe
Translated by:Sheldon Drzka
Adapted by:Sheldon DrzkaWhat They Say
Can a socially inept "fanboy" win over a beautiful girl?
A painfully shy young man's life is turned upside down when an incident on a train brings him into contact with something he's completely unfamiliar with . . . a woman! This awkward "otaku" knows a lot about manga, anime and video games, but not a lot about the real world, and even less regarding girls. In desperation, he solicits the advice of the online community to improve his social skills. But will their advice help the socially challenged Densha Otoko ("Train Man") or just confuse him even more?The ReviewPackaging:
The front cover of this volume depicts the main character's love interest sitting on a small toy-like version of a train car. The background is a solid sea foam green color and the title is printed in simple white text. The back cover keeps the same background cover as the front, and has a small picture of the main character, Train, surrounded by standard otaku items (models, figures, anime, manga, video games), there is also a story synopsis. The printing for this volume is solid throughout the book with good tone work and alignment. There are some great extras with this title, mostly in the form of color pages. The first page is a color fold out poster with two sides, the next page is in color and the following page is a color 'Table of Contents'. There is also a 'Thank you' letter from Watanabe and a letter about this book from the CMX editor along with a few translator notes in the gutters scattered throughout the book.Artwork:
Watanabe's art blends really well with this comedic title. The character designs are well done with everyone possessing a 'down to Earth' feeling with their clothing and hair, plus each of the repeat characters are easily distinguishable. The one detractor for me was the immense size of the eyes and the large amount of space between them for the female characters. Something that I really enjoyed was the main characters hair cut scene. Right after his session with a hair stylist, his hair is standing up in the right spots and looks good. Then, just like in real life, a couple of days afterwards his hair is back to looking like a shorter version of his hairstyle before it got cut. A very small part of the story I know, but I really appreciated the effort at displaying realism.
The panel layout has a good flow and adds to the frenzied energy Train has in his imaginary episodes. Watanabe also does a good job of depicting emotions, Train especially since there were a lot of instances where his facial expressions were more than enough to tell the story. Text/SFX:
The text reads well but there are some instances when people chatting online have dialogue that is a little off. I actually found this part interesting because I couldn't tell if the dialogue was written poorly on purpose by the adaptor or if the original author made the dialogue a little rough to mimic the real world of bad Internet grammar. The Japanese SFX has been replaced with English translations for the most part, but there are a couple of instances where the original remains with an English translation placed alongside. I really have no idea what the reasoning was for leaving and removing the Japanese SFX.Contents:
(Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
The main character for this story is a young guy working as bookstore employee who spends his off time relegating himself to common otaku activities. One of which is reading the postings in a chat room frequented by men without girlfriends, Poison Men. For some reason in this first volume the main character is never called by his real name, only by his online name, Train. Well, Train is not only an otaku, he also has incredibly low self-esteem, no friends, and a very vivid imagination. I found the imagination portion of this story very entertaining. Train spends large portions of his day thinking back on earlier situations and how he wished he would have acted or the things he wished he had said. This hindsight issue really struck a cord with me since I used to do the same thing when I was younger, and coincidentally much more shy.
Train is going about his daily life of work and otakuness when one day he witnesses a drunkard harassing women on a train. Train desperately hopes the drunk will quickly pass on to the next car, but when the cute woman he was looking at earlier is also affected by the rude drunk, Train can no longer do nothing. He jumps at the drunkard and demands the man quit, but things don't go too well and another passenger and the conductor have to come to Train's help. Even so, the group of older women and the young girl thank Train for his help and demand his address so they can send thank you letters.
The whole situation is so out of the ordinary for Train that he rushes home and posts his encounter on the Poison Men discussion thread. The other Poison Men excitedly respond and a whirlwind of suggestions and wishful thinking about what might be soon to come flood over Train from his computer screen. This leads to a crazy life altering interaction with the young girl for Train and the Poison Men get to live vicariously through their fellow board member from the safety of their own homes. This part of the story really taps into how society has changed because of the Internet. Now people with like interests can meet and interact anonymously and say what is really on their mind, which is good for shy people but at the same time bad since this can also make it easier for them to spend their life avoiding the rest of the world.
With the Poison Men giving Train advice on how to interact with and date a woman, funny how everyone thinks they know the answer, and his ultimate date coming up how will Train handle all the tension? Will he crash and burn, or hit a homerun? Only the release of volume two will tell.Comments
I knew a small amount about the Train Man storyline before reading this book, but since I have not seen any of the other manga versions I cannot make any comparisons. What I can say about this title released by CMX is how much it really hit home for me. Being shy and nervous around women, always thinking back on situations and wishing you had acted differently, and the heart pounding nervousness of asking a girl out for the first time are experiences most of us, myself included, have dealt with at one time or another. With all these aspects of the story I can see why the Train Man was so popular in Japan. The main character is not only realistic but the story is funny and easy to digest for a large and varied audience. There is no harem, the protagonist is not a pervert, and there are no situations of fanservice just for the sake of fanservice. Don't get me wrong, I like a good harem comedy but I also enjoy a good comedy that stands on the merits of the story and its characters, which is a rather rare quantity.
I highly recommend this story to just about anyone that likes to read. Both the artwork and the story are fun and I'm really looking forward to reading the next volume and finding out how Train and the other Poison Men will grow from Train's experiences.