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Four Manga Based on the Same Novel

posted on by Christopher Macdonald
"Trainman" (Densha Otoko), a story born on the net, adapted into manga by 4 competing magazines.

Source: Yahoo News Japan - Yomiuri (Japanese)
Source: Japan Times Online (English).

Trainman (Densha Otoko), a love-story original born on the popular 2 Channel message board, and later published by Shinchou, is going to receive four completely separate manga adaptations for serialization in four competing magazines.

Trainman, which captured the public attention on 2 Channel in March of 2004, tells the story of a 22-year old otaku who is interested in "Miss Hermes," an attractive young woman he saved from an annoying drunk on the train on his way home from Akihabara.

On 2 Channel, "Trainman" sought advice from fellow-otaku on how he should approach Miss Hermes and reported back on the progress of his relationship, while receiving encouragement from hundreds of online well-wishers.

A collection of these posts, spanning a period of 2 months, was published by Shinchou in autumn 2004 , and sold 260,000 copies in just 3 weeks and half a million copies in 2 months. In the process, the story garnered the attention of several manga anthologies, leading to a rather unique situation...

Not only is Trainman the first successful novel to be created from Internet message board postings (although there are some similarities with the situation in My Sassy Girl), but it is now also the first novel to be independently adapted into four different manga for serialization in four different manga anthologies at roughly the same time.

Three shonen magazines will serialize the story, while one shoujo magazine will publish it as a one-shot. Young Champion Magazine from Akita Shoten was the first to market, with their first installment published in their December 28th issue, followed by Shogakukan's Weekly Young Sunday Magazine on January 6th and then Monthly Champion RED Magazine (also from Akita Shoten) on January 19th. Shoujo magazine Dessert, published by Kodansha, plans to release a one-shot adaptation in their spring issue.

The editorial department of Young Champion explained their aim: "We were interested in the idea of a tale of friendship born on an anonymous message board on the net, being a subject suitable for manga and reflecting the present".

The editorial department of Young Sunday says "Even if there are others doing the same story, due to each Manga artists different style of expression, the content will be different."

Regarding fees due to the original creator of a work when it is adapted into a manga or anime, the concerned parties have stated that they intend to contribute the money to a fund for earthquake victims in Chuetsu, Niigata.

It's currently unknown, and the subject of widespread speculation, as to whether Trainman actually had a real life relationship with "Miss Hermes" or if the story expressed on 2 Channel was an elaborate piece of fiction, a hoax.

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