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Densha Otoko

Densha Otoko (電車男, lit. “Train Man”)1) is a viral love story based on a collection of posts from 2channel's /male/ board, roughly spanning from March 14, 20042) to May 17, 2004. The “Train Man” used three tripcodes: ◆nm4g8qV1Cg, ◆SgHguKHEFY, and ◆4aP0TtW4HU.


For context, we're told that the “Single Men” board on 2channel had a self-deprecatory thread where men would voluntarily share romantic stories from other boards,3) used slang that implied “love is war”,4) and occasionally reported on their own progress for love. This is why the story begins with the protagonist saying that he might “betray” them and find love as well, before telling us the following story:

On March 14, 2004 at 21:25(9:25PM) JST, this anonymous user describes riding the train home from Akihabara, standing up to a drunk that was harassing women.5) Two days later, he gets a package with two “luxury” Hermès tea cups as thanks from a woman he stood up for. With the community's support, he manages to ask her out to dinner, and they do this three times.6)

After the third arrangement, she grabs his hand and asks him to walk her home, inviting him over the next day. The two and her dog ended up being alone at her house, she brewed Benoist tea, and he thinks about buying her a computer.7) Then on April 23, 2004, she would hint in an email that she does not have a boyfriend, allegedly due to her being so skinny that people find her unattractive.

He starts thinking about confessing his love, but she's on a vacation for Golden Week. At this point in the story, his tripcode somehow gets leaked, so he changes it on April 27, 2004.8) The week after, he decides that it's time. On Saturday, May 8, 2004, having bought a computer, they stop at a bench. He confesses, she confesses back, and they kiss. Congratulations were had.

Multimedia adaptations

The summary blog's telling of Densha Otoko would be turned into a novel, published by Shinchosha and released on October 22, 2004. It would be authored by “Hitori Nakano” (中野独人, Nakano Hitori), which is actually a pun on “naka no hitori” (中の一人, lit. “one of us”). Despite having less than 10% of the posts in all the threads combined, this is the most direct retelling of events without going into the raw threads.

A number of manga adaptations followed in early 2005, then two live-action adaptations would be released. Toho would help publish and distribute the Densha Otoko movie on June 4, 2005, then Fuji TV started airing the Densha Otoko television drama which ran from July 7, 2005 to September 25, 2005, but do note that both live-action adaptations diverge from the original story.


The Densha Otoko novel has been translated twice: the first and preferred translation is Project Densha by “Lindsay” in 2005, while the other translation is the awkward “Bonnie Elliott” novel translation that was published by Constable & Robinson in 20069) and Del Rey Books in 2007.10) For an idea of how these translations differ, below is a chart showing how the first few posts in “Mission 1” were translated.

Original text Translated text Project Densha (2005) The “Bonnie Elliot” Translation (2006)
731 すまん。俺も裏ぐった。

Sorry. I'm about to betray11) you all too.
I don't have any literary talent, so I can't describe what happened.

This thread really has magical powers…
Let there be light in your lives…
Sorry. I've betrayed you all, too…
I'm not good with words, so I can't lay it all out well, but…

This thread has WAY too much magical power…
Glory to you all…
Sorry. I may end up betraying you guys.
I'm no good at writing so don't know how well I can tell this story.

Damn. This thread's got something going on…
May the force be with you…
732 なんだとこあんちくしょうぁあああああ Son of a bitch, what the hell is it?! AAAGH! Wwwwhhhaatttttt dammmiiittttttt freakinfrakin
733 きになる I'm worried. I need to know what's goin' on man?
734 >>731
Did you get a girlfriend?
Did you get a girlfriend?
did you get a girlfriend?
737 >>734
Not really, but it was a huge opportunity.
The more I say it, the more it'll sound like a made-up story.
Anyways, y'all should really get out there.
No, but maybe my luck is changing…
Answering like that makes this sound like it's made-up, but…
Anyway, you guyz, go outside once in awhile
sadly no. But something really big came up.
This kind of stuff sounds too much like I'm making it up.
Anyway, the point is that you guys really need to get out more…
738 ごめん。よく考えたら大チャンスじゃなかった…_| ̄|○
Sorry. On second thought, this huge opportunity isn't a guarantee… _| ̄|○
I need to calm down…
Sorry, now that I think about it, my luck isn't changing… _| ̄|○
Calm down, self!
sorry. Ok, I thought about it some more and it's actually not such a big deal… _| ̄|○
Deep breath…
739 >>737
詳 細 キ ボ ン
How many times will I have to type this,
D E T A I L S   P L E A S E.
I wonder how many times I've typed this, now
how many times have I typed this,
d.e.t.a.i.l.s por favor

Meanwhile, Viz Media translated the movie adaptation of Densha Otoko, showing its preview at Anime Expo 2006, then giving it a limited run in “major cities” on September 22, 2006.12)

Reception and Impact

In general, Densha Otoko mostly appeals to people unfamiliar with 2channel since, without context, it reads like an online chatroom. The work is praised for its true love story, yet criticized as the male protagonist is urged to abandon his “otaku” hobbies and conform to a “romantically capitalist” relationship. All things aside, it shines light on two major components: real-world dating and anonymous internet advice.

As for its impact, the work is considered to be a turning point for how the public in Japan saw “anime otaku” since the lifestyle was largely stained by a pedophilic serial killer in the late 1980s until 2005. With the release of Densha Otoko and media outlets focusing on shenanigans like the Haruhi Movement, more people became aware of the “anime otaku” lifestyle that it just became normalized.

However, the users who inhabited the “Single Men” board on 2channel didn't appreciate the sudden influx of tourists on a pilgrimage to see where it began, especially when most weren't even single men, so it took a really long time for the board to actually go back to normal. As a result, most 2channel users will challenge its authenticity13) or discuss the ethics of profiting off of random posts by anonymous internet users.


  • A few of the major “supporting evidence” challenging the story's authenticity are as follows:14)
    • The drunk man incident that allegedly occurred on the Keihin–Tōhoku Line on March 14, 2004 could not be verified, and JR East would neither confirm nor deny.15)
    • It's argued that “Train Man” was not actually in his 20s as he says “dial” (ダイアル, daiaru),16) not “call” (電話する, denwasuru), and his interests reportedly suits someone in his 40s.
    • His tripcode usage is odd. He picks up a tripcode in the eighth thread on March 21st,17) changes it on March 24th,18) then claims that it leaked on April 27th and changes it again.19) This leak is peculiar as the only evidence is a “test” post and, considering the website's anonymous nature, we do not see the leaked password or a slew of fake posts under his previous tripcode.
  • “Train Man” mentioned that his friends say he looks like Moomin,20) so most threads would be titled: “Moomin Gave Me a Pointy Hat” (とんがり帽子をくれたムーミン, Tongaribōshi o kureta Mūmin).
  • It should be noted that the two have known each other for 55 days when they confess, so it could be debated whether this is actually love or infatuation based on the information provided.
  • After the confession, “Train Man” is seen on another board and details having sex with her.21) This was not recorded in the summary blog and most readers critique these posts as bad erotica.
  • Some of the novels were released under the pen name “Jūnin Itano” (板野住人, Itano Jūnin) instead. This is an extremely obvious pun on “board resident” (板の住人, Ita no Jūnin).
  • Densha Otoko did get Napoleon Dynamite renamed to Bus Man (バス男, Basu Otoko) for its initial 2006 DVD release in Japan, solely because Napoleon was a nerd that happen to be on a bus in the start of the movie. However, the move was widely criticized that Fox actually changed the name back to Napoleon Dynamite in 2013 and apologized for hopping on the Densha Otoko trend.22)

See also

“Train Man” (電車男, Densha Otoko) is named as such because of the initial setting. While the protagonist is an otaku, he was not a “Railway Otaku” (鉄道オタク, Tetsudō Otaku) or “Railfan” by any means.
The exact thread was titled “Thread Where Men Are Shot From Behind” (男たちが後ろから撃たれるスレ, Otoko-tachi ga Ushirokara Utareru Sure), which did exist, but it died off as it would get derailed by people who read Densha Otoko and people would either troll them or spam the thread in response.
For instance, romantic stories were called “bombings” (爆撃, bakugeki), you were “hit” (撃たれる, utareru) if a story moved you or made you depressed, and finding love would be a “betrayal” (裏切る, utagiru).
All three dinner reservations were on Saturday. Their first one was on March 27, 2004, the second with her friend was on April 4, 2004, and the third was on April 17, 2004.
The computer saga reveals that she's looking for a Windows notebook and he estimates that her budget was around ¥200,000 or $2,000. We never get any details about the computer that they end up buying since the day that they bought it happens to be the day of the confession.
"Train man". Internet Archive.
"Train man : the novel". Internet Archive.
“Uragutta” (裏ぐった) means “about to betray” or “about to find love” in this context. The key word is “betrayal” (裏切る, uragiru), which is slang for “finding love” in the war of love, while “-gutta” (~ぐった) is an unusual internet variant of “-guru” (~ぐる) meaning “about to”.
"Viz Media Announces Release of Train Man" (June 28, 2006). Anime News Network.
13) , 14)
"電車男@FAQ". Densha Otoko @ All Past Logs.
"JRからのメール" (April 3, 2005). Livedoor.
"がおー" [Archive 1, Archive 2] (March 24, 2004). 2channel /male/.
"終着駅" (May 17, 2004). 2channel /nanmin/.
densha_otoko.txt · Last modified: 2024-03-28 22:34:34 by namelessrumia