Thursday, 3 March 2011

Densha Otoko vs Densha Otoko: FIGHT!

I watched the TV adaptation of this novel about a year ago and although I enjoyed it, by the end I was so tired of the main character's chronic shyness that I needed a break. It's only recently that I decided to try the film version. The story is the same in both: an emotionally-stunted anime freak stops a man on a train from harassing a woman and over time, with the advice of some people who write on an internet message board, he begins a romantic relationship with her.

Since the TV series is longer, it can spend more time on minor characters and sub-plots. In the film, Hermes (the female lead) has no brother and we never see her parents. Also, Densha Otoko's work life is barely explored at all, he lives alone and he doesn't try to learn to surf to impress her.

This leaves the film with the bare bones of the story, and it is just as entertaining. On the down side, it does mean that when their relationship has difficulties, it is just due to his misunderstanding rather than an event that causes a rift between them. Also, the TV series has the luxury of tear-jerking scenes like the closing of the thread as it approaches its one thousandth post.

The acting is somewhat better in the film, though, and it's played more low-key, with fewer comedic outbursts from the message board people. Nakatani Miki (Keizoku) is a better Hermes than Misaki Ito (Tiger & Dragon) perhaps because her character took a more positive role in the relationship and also because I thought she and Takayuki Yamada (who played Densha Otoko) were a more believable couple. Also there were some nice cameos in amongst the internet people, including Eita as a hikikomori.

There was a neat touch after the credits roll on the film, when we see the actors from the TV series recreate the scene with the drunkard on the train, and the person who helps hold him back is Densha Otoko from the film! Of course, I went to check the first episode, and there he was – the big screen version of Densha Otoko appearing in the TV series. I liked that.

All in all, both are good. The film is better for those in a hurry, while if you want to immerse yourself in Otaku culture, go for the TV series.


  1. Hey, I realize you posted this a year ago, but I'll leave a comment anyway. I found an old disk of the drama series and re-watched it, then found an (unsubbed) version of the movie online. Although I think the forum members from the drama version are extremely amusing, both of the leads make me squirm. Misaki Ito purses her lips and gazes blankly into the middle distance, Atsushi Ito grimaces and snivels. I much preferred Takayuki Yamada for sure as an actor and also as a made-over otaku. Takayuki Yamada plays Densha as an introvert as well as a geek while Atsushi Ito seems all caricature, nothing human. In both versions, however, I am left wondering why Densha loves Hermes - she gave him the time of day, is there anything deeper?

  2. Well, they're both based on a novel that's apparently based on a real story. I guess in the genuine Densha Otoko was smart enough to write a book, then he was probably a better conversationalist than either of these versions. I hope so, anyway.

    I wonder if they're still together...