Monday, 27 April 2009

TV & Slang: Densha or Otaku?

More than once I mentioned the now in-and-chic term "Densha (otoko)" in my recent lessons, and as response I got a whole lot of stiff, puzzled faces. I am not surprised as most Hongkongers understand the term in Chinese rather than in Japanese.

The term originated from a once-super-hot TV drama, starred by Itō Atsushi as Tsuyoshi Yamada, aka (also known as) "Densha (otoko)" or "Train Man" in English, and Ito Misaki as Saori Aoyama, aka Hermès over the internet.

The story began with the protagonist, Yamada the typical otaku (a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly anime, manga, and video games.), not-so-heroically saving the stunningly elegant and gorgeous Saori from the harassment of a drunken mid-age man on a train. In order to show her appreciation to his bravery and chivalry, model-figured Saori asked for the address of the vertically-challenged Yamada so that she could send him a gift of thanks. Soon Yamada received a set of fine China from Hermès and he shared his incidence over the internet, naming the anonymous girl as Hermès over the internet forum namely '2channel', which was also the place he got his nickname "Densha" from.

The story told the common lifestyle of a group of computer & manga maniacs (or "geeks" in slang) such as how they live their life in the virtual world in contrast to how they are disgusted and isolated by the females in reality. In the drama, the otaku begged for true human love, despite the fact that they enjoyed the company of their virtual dream girls and are proud of who they are.

So, strictly speaking, we should be using the word 'otaku' just as the Japanese do in describing this group of computer & manga lovers, and not using the word 'Densha', as Yamada became Densha after saving the girl and this is missing from the usual otaku. Thus this is what I am suggesting:

Otaku + saving a girl on the train = Densha

It really bugs me when I hear people using Densha without knowing the true origin.


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