Nov 29

Train Man

Train Man

by Nakano Hitori

Translated by Bonnie Elliott.

(4/5)

Train Man PictureFiction / Biography (Train Man is supposedly based on true internet chat forum conversations)
First Published in 2004
Publisher: Del Ray Books (USA), Shinchosha (Japan)
Set in: present day Japan

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Book cover synopsis:

“The story of the Train man who fell in love with the girl, Hermes.

The best selling internet-generation love story from Japan.’

Train Man is lifted directly from Japan’s 2-Channel chat forum, the world’s largest message board and the most popular website in Japan, handling a million posts every day.

On the web you can say what you feel and be who you want, no strings attached. But sometimes the web escapes into reality and the truth becomes more amazing than fiction.

When a nerdy young guy saves a girl from a drunk on a train and posts the story on a net forum, it’s just one message among millions. But somehow the thread keeps unwinding and through the other messengers enthusiasm ‘Train’ is spurred on to get it together with the girl ‘Hermes’.

Train continues to update his virtual friends as his relationship progresses and they continue to offer him advice – some good, some awful. Hermes knows he’s got helpful friends, but what will happen when he reveals just who these friends are and what he’s been telling them?

Nakano Hitori (meaning ‘one of us’) was the name used by an anonymous messager who first collected Train Man’s adventures into a single complete and magic thread. Since then Train Man has become a Japanese social phenomenon, generating a hit movie, a TV series, stage play, five manga relisations, a guidebook and three companion books. The true identity of Train Man remains a closely guarded secret.

bunnyMy Book Review:

No one really knows if Train Man is fiction or reality, but I’d like to think it’s closer to reality. Train Man is a charming and extremely endearing love story told through posts on an online chat room full of computer geeks. Boy meets girl, but is too shy to approach her on his own, so he asks for help in the chat room. It’s a truly contemporary tale which demonstrates the modern mode of community support in action.

The story is printed in the form of posts on the forum.

Eg:

’733 Name: Anonymous Post Date: 14/03/04 21:28

What’s goin’ on man?

734 Name: Anonymous Post Date: 14/03/04 21.28

>> 731 did you get a girlfriend?’

It takes a little while to get used to the style but once you get past that you’ll be hooked. Train Man is quite clueless about how to deal with a girl but his chat room buddies (often as inexperienced), all have some sort of advice to give. They seem to be living vicariously through Train Man, eager for him to succeed. They sometimes stay up waiting up late into the night to find out how his dates with ‘Hermes’ went. Because the story is told from the chat room, neither the netizens nor the reader can go with Train Man on his dates, we can only find out what happens when Train Man returns and writes about it.

The translation is sometimes a tiny bit jarring using words like ‘the old geezer’, which to me, is very colloquially English. I found it hard to imagine young Japanese men/women saying ‘geezer’.

Because of Train Man’s inexperience, he is very cautious in his progress with ‘Hermes’, so it takes a while for things to develop. Train Man is a fun read if you’re looking for a tender love story, or need some help ‘getting out there’ yourself.

x Julie

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