Tokyo Geeks are All the Rage

April 25, 2007 at 3:23 pm 2 comments

I’m a sucker for love stories, especially unconventional ones. Take this one for example:

A geeky man sees a beautiful woman on the train. As he admires her from across the way, a drunken old man stumbles in and starts harassing the woman. The geek has no idea what to do. Should he defend the woman or ignore the situation like everyone else? Gathering all his courage, the geek finally decides to come to the woman’s aid.

Thus begins the story of “Densha Otoko” (Train Man), a Japanese novel told from the geek’s point-of-view via chat messages with his online community of friends. In Japan, geeks are referred to as otaku. They tend to be people who have an extreme interest in one particular thing like computers, or in Densha Otoko’s case, anime. And unless it pertains to their particular interest, they’re rather inept in keeping up any semblance of a casual conversation. So for the Densha Otoko, in order to win the beautiful woman’s heart he has to try becoming a more worldly person.


This rather odd love story became a hit among Japanese. Many were drawn to this adorable geek’s plight because, after all, haven’t we all experienced being the underdog?

Soon after the novel was published, there was a TV series, a movie, a comic book and then a theatrical show. The country couldn’t get enough of it. Even the area of Tokyo where otaku frequented most, Akihabara “electric town,” turned into a cool destination point. The term “Akiba-kei” – definition being “anything which relates to Akihabara” – became of a buzz word of 2005, and rumor also has it that pretty women everywhere began scouring the streets in search of their own Akiba-kei man.

But like all trends, they come and go quickly. In 2007, geeky men may not be the most sought-after people in Japan, but well, at least they had their day in the sun.


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Entry filed under: Japanese Culture, Japanese Entertainment.

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  • […] installations ranged from statues of risqué anime figures representing the absurdness of otaku culture to large, colorful mushrooms with hundreds of eyes. There were also enormous balloons, […]

  • 2. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow « JPBizDirect’s Blog  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:23 am

    […] So take Goku and multiply him by about 3 million and there you’ll have the young male population of Japan. Unlike in the U.S., guys aren’t afraid of moussing up their mane at the risk of looking girly. Wax, gel, spray, bleach — hair products of all kind sell big. In fact, not using them is a telling sign that you don’t care about presentation. Perhaps you’re an otaku (geek) whose only friends are online, or maybe you’re the dreaded hikikomori (isolationist) who never ever leaves his room. Not even to pee. Either way, you’re not getting chicks. …Well, unless you’re Densha Otoko. […]

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