Published by Del Rey on April 24th 2007
Genres: Japanese Literature, Light Novel, Light Romance
Boy–bashful and not overly brave–defends girl from obnoxious drunk on a Tokyo train. Girl sends boy a thank-you pair of pricey Hermés teacups. Boy’s a geek and doesn’t know what to do next. End of story for most nerds–but this one turns to the world’s largest online message board and asks for help, so for him it’s just the beginning. This matchless love story is told through a series of Internet chat room threads.Amazon •
As Train Man, our hero charts his progress and unveils each new crisis–from making conversation to deciding what to wear on a date and beyond–in return, he receives advice, encouragement, warnings, and sympathy from the anonymous netizens. And Train Man discovers the secret to what makes the world go round–and proves we really do live in a universe where anything can happen.
Mature-Content Rating: Mild Sexual Content, Language
“When I first came across a Train post in real time,
I didn’t think it was anything special.
Watching him hum and hah over calling or not calling
made me want to beat some sense into him.
When he had dinner with Hermes and her friend
I doubted there would be a follow-up date.
But right after that… Train shot out at lightning speed…”
There are two main characters in this book: Train Man, our geeky hero, and Hermés, the lovely lady rescued by our shy otaku (geek). Train Man is as geeky as they come. He spends his free time roaming Akihabara, playing on computers, and has never had a girlfriend.
The entire book is created by forum posts from the Japanese site 2channel. It consists of Train Man himself telling netizens his story of meeting Hermés on the train and the various netizens giving their advice on contacting her and eventually dating advice.
The forum format can be annoying, but mostly it adds to the story. The netizens use ASCII to create elaborate pictures and expressions for their posts, and many of their posts are heartfelt. Of course, you also have those irritating few posters.
Even if you’re not into Japanese culture, Train Man is an innovative love story that brought together a community of netizens and tons of fans through the book and various other mediums. Any self proclaimed geek, or even if you’re just shy when it comes to relationships, will find something to enjoy in this story.
*Naka no hitori
The author’s name is a Japanese term for all the people on the message board. I’m not quite sure on the translation, but it’s basically something like “one person among many”. (If anyone has a better translation please correct me on this, my Japanese is getting horrible.)