A different kind of Otaku no Video
Perhaps the most interesting thing I saw at Anime Los Angeles wasn't Anime, nor was it officially on the program. I saw a fansub of the first episode of the Japanese TV series Densha Otoko on someone's laptop, and was blown away.
The weird tale of the guy who called himself the Train Man on a Japanese chat room was first compiled into a book, then was made into a Manga. Then came this TV series, a stage play, and finally a movie. The anime that was referenced in the TV series and the movie, Getsumen To Heike Mina, is now unspooling on Fuji TV, having its premiere on January 17th of this year.
I missed the screening of the movie iteration of this story at San Diego Comic-Con this year. However, it's going to be coming out from Viz Pictures on DVD on February 7th. Perfect timing for giving to the Otaku or Otome Valentine in your life. The Manga is already in the process of release, and the last of three volumes will also be out in time for Valentine's Day.
I would like to also see this TV series given a legitimate release on DVD because the guy who portrays the protagonist in the series, Ito Atsushi, is incredibly good as a comedic actor. He's a little bit Jerry Lewis at his spazzy best, a little bit Jim Carrey before he got all full of himself, and a whole lot of fun. I haven't seen the movie yet, so I can't really judge the cast. But the TV series is worth it for Ito alone. Fuji TV broke my heart by not putting out DVDs of Iron Chef. Don't do it again to me, guys!
UPDATE: the Densha Otoko movie is NOT as good as the TV series, unfortunately. However, the commentary, done by Japanese Pop Culture expert Patrick Macias and two of his closest Japanese friends, is hilarious, and the DVD is worth buying just for that. Also it looks pretty unlikely that a Densha Otoko TV series Region 1 DVD release won't happen because of music clearance issues. So between this and the translated mangas this is what we Amerika-jin get of Densha Otoko-mania. So enjoy it.