From Yuki, who got it from WTBW: The Japanese title (houdai) of American film Napoleon Dynamite will be Bus Otoko (“Bus Man.”) As Yuki points out, this new title has almost nothing to do with the film itself and 100% to do with the fact that there is a popular Japanese film/television show/internet hoax called Densha Otoko (“Train Man”). (Even the tagline is based on 2-ch typography!) In last month’s Cyzo, an article about the current “Virgin Boom” referenced ND as being “Bus Man” in Japan, but I was convinced at the time that the writer was making a bad joke.
I’ve meant to blog on Napoleon before, because I found it to be the most depressing movie I’ve seen in years. Everyone else I know thought it was “UNBELIEVABLY HILARIOUS!” but as someone who grew up in relatively crappy small towns, the characters’ pathetic lives hit a little close to people I’ve actually known. My sister snapped back at me, “Napoleon seems lame now but he’ll be the next Bill Gates!” There is absolutely no evidence for this. There are plenty of movies about misunderstood, smart nerds with potential — Lucas, for example — but Napoleon is the worst type of that totally worthless, unpromising nerd with very few redeeming qualities. His creativity seems to be mostly cribbed from RPGs — a fact that probably went over the head of anyone who’s never owned a 20-sided die.
I saw the film last December through an illegal Bit Torrent download, and I was very surprised to come home to Florida and find the “cool” shopping mall stores — i.e., the places with Doc Martens — selling Napoleon Dynamite T-shirts. Kids were most likely buying them for the irony factor alone, slipping them over their Korn T-shirts before beating the shit out of the “unpromising nerds” of their own high-schools.
I’m not sure what Japanese viewers would get out of this film, seeing that Americans just deep down love to laugh at the lives of rural lower middle-class orphans. But, film appreciation is not universal. Everyone I know who is Japanese or French loved A Life Aquatic, whereas all the American critical community seemed to walk away disappointed. I don’t get the sense that anyone in Japan went gaga over Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind the way all my American friends did, so I’m not willing to put money on the Bus Man’s chances. If it becomes a huge phenomenon, however, we’ll perhaps know that this otaku boom is the real deal.