Geeky Love: Densha Otoko (Train Man) (2005)

New month, new film!

See, it ‘s not all gunfights and swordplay.  This is movie for the geek in ALL of us, and one of my favorite Japanese films.  It’s about a guy, who is a geek, who saves a woman from a rude man on a train (when no one else would, you’ve been there if you’ve traveled on public transportation).  He is painfully shy, but ends up working his way into several dates with her.  He looks to an online group for help in what to do next and analyzing each of the momentous dates they have.    It’s supposedly based on a maybe true story about a guy who chronicled his own experience in a Japanese internet forum.

It’s so funny, and if you are a geek ( or have geek tendencies, or are a “former” geek, or know a geek, or have heard of geeks), you know Train Man’s experience all too well:  your tendency to talk about things nobody else knows or cares about (I know that look the lady gives him when he gets all enthusiastic about The Matrix–this happened to me at a research presentation on The Matrix just last week), your tendency to over-prepare for the simplest social events (he scouts out the restaurant for their first date and tries everything, and makes notes and takes pictures!), your tendency to get left out of other social gatherings, etc. And his online friends aren’t the most socially adept people either:  a nurse who uses her time to chat online, a teenager who never leaves his room, three guys who hang out in an internet cafe all day every day and a couple who are both in the same chat group, but they don’t know it.  

What I like about this film, (in addition to identifying in some ways with its lead), is that it gives us a different take on technology and socializing.  Most people decry the internet, texting, and email because it contributes to the further isolation of individuals, but this film shows how technology not only allows Train Man to find a community of like-minded individuals and get help, it also shows how his story then in turn motivates them to change their own lives.  You know, it doesn’t matter how unlikely the ending may be, because by that time the film has you so invested in Train Man. So, sometimes, technology can be your friend.

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