This is certainly the best movie I've ever seen with ASCII art in it. (Monar
should have had a bigger part!) But if anyone at all finds the two main characters believable, you've got some explaining to do. Maybe it's different in Japan, and maybe the brand of geek I hang out with is of a higher tier of social awareness than that guy. And they make sense in the Romantic Comedy Universe.
One thing that does work in the real universe is how the drunk guy on the train doesn't get confronted by anyone else on the train, and the answer was that Japanese people keep to themselves. That's the one thing that did ring true; countless psychological experiments (and a Dateline episode or two) establish that people in crowds are less prone to heroism, because everyone secretly hopes someone else will be the hero. I wonder how much of Tokyo's culture, and inner city culture throughout the world, is just a result of being in a crowd all the time. It makes the feat of confronting him all that much more extraordinary, and certainly Train Man's stuttery behavior seems natural for someone who's found himself in way over his head.
But, Train Man surprised me by never getting out of stammering mode. At first I didn't buy this, but then I remembered what I was like when I was 21 and attempting to date. I was just as over-apologetic, and stilted, and even self-deprecating. None of the side-splitting wit I'd been famous for online showed through.
Thus, Hermess (the woman) surprised me by cutting him a superhuman level of slack. Is the "friend zone" some unique American tradition that Japanese women don't have as an option? Or was there some chemistry going on that I wasn't tuned into? She gives him more slack than any woman I've ever met has given me, because she meets him way more than halfway. This must be where the movie spends its dramatic license as a romantic comedy. Indeed, this movie is just like an American romantic comedy, but without the Baxter
The "battlefield manga guys" cutaways, and the commentary also, promote some emerging Japanese ideal that relationships, sex, and all the temptation of the "real world", are only a distraction from anime, manga, and the more important "fantasy world", and the commentary even draws the parallel between otaku and monks. Monks just live in a different kind of fantasy world.
Mostly, I kept comparing the anonymous posters of the mild-mannered text BBS 2ch
to what I've read so far on 4chan
. The movie depicts Anonymous as a handful of individuals, just like they are in real life, though perhaps not such a small and consistent group of them. But an American Anonymous would have probably been influenced by 4chan and Fox 11, depicted as a single green-faced man in a black suit, spouting all the opinions and advice like a single guy with multiple personalities, and every poignant thing he said would have been followed immediately by "STICK IT IN HER POOPER". For all I know, that's how it went down on 2ch, and the spam and racial slurs and other crap was filtered from the movie, to avoid killing the dramatic buzz and maintain sympathy for the protagonist.
I do think t_h_e_m
needs to screen it once. I've heard a lot of random-sounding Japanese titles being flung across the dinner table, and "Densha Otoko" isn't one of them. It'll certainly provoke some discussion.