So after having passively avoided much of Densha Otoko’s tv drama for the longest time (I was even IN Japan while it was airing and still hardly saw any of it), I finally sat down and plowed through the main Densha Otoko story (I have yet to touch the special episodes).
Densha Otoko is based off of the allegedly true story of an otaku on the 2channel messageboard who manages to save a girl from a drunk on the train (hence the title “Train Man”), and afterwards begins to ask the messageboard for advice on how to woo the girl, who he refers to as “Hermes.” Eventually, thanks to the genuine and heartfelt advice he receives from his fellow posters, he is able to win the girl over and start dating her. The TV drama uses this same basic idea, but dramatizes it further (of course), giving faces and personalities to the various anonymous voices, and showing much more of the Densha Otoko’s life.
The drama is very, very cheesy, but I could feel tears welling up in my eyes at certain points while watching. It can be a very moving show, and it taps into people’s common desire to not be alone. It also shows that relationships can transcend common societal barriers. Hermes is a beautiful woman from upper class society, while Densha Otoko is an awkward otaku who is barely a salaryman, and yet they manage to find each other and fall in love. Everyone but Densha himself is anonymous on the thread to which Densha posts, but together they realize that they have all become true friends with Densha and each other, united by the desire to see someone so earnest and honest fulfill his dream.
The Densha Otoko phenomenon actually caused a brief period where girls tried to get otaku boyfriends, having become enamored with the idea of the hopeless dork with a heart of gold. After having watched Densha Otoko, I can see why this would be the case. The sad fact is that a lot of otaku you meet are actually just selfish people with horrible personalities, just like any other group in society, but I can ignore it for now. At its core, it’s not about the improbability of an otaku finding love, but about looking to the person inside.