Nonfictional anime isn’t very common, but perhaps Tetsuko no Tabi (鉄子の旅) explains the rarity. It shows the adventures of real-life train geek Yokomi Hirohiko in a 13-episode series currently running on Family Theatre, Sundays at 10:00 JST.

Direction is handled by Nagaoka Akinori, who’s a bit of a veteran with a history of shows like Record of Lodoss War, while the screenplay’s written by Soma Kazuhiko of Aquarian Age fame (?). Charged with the animation of all this excitement was GroupTAC, which is a bit sad, since I adored their Twin Spica. Describing what they had to work with is a bit tougher, since it seems so ludicrous.

You know how all the crazy animu you watch always shows a little strip of text that says “This work is fiction and none of the characters really exist”? Well, this time it’s different. They all do exist. The main character is Kikuchi Naoe, a manga artist desperate for work, who gets lucky as she’s asked to tag along with a travel writer and draw a manga about it. She meets up with him at the train station, only to realize he’s Yokomi Hirohiko, the biggest train geek in the known universe, who in 1995 had managed to visit all the 4636 JR train stations. Now he’s out to visit the remaining private stations (for a grand total of 9843), and Kikuchi has the dubious privilege of chronicling the adventure. Cue shock and disgust, and she turns to their editor Ishikawa Masahiko to rescue her, but soon finds out he’s nearly as enthusiastic about trains as the esteemed Yokomi. She resigns to give it a try.

The trio boards a train to conquer the entire Kururi line, and we’re treated to 15 or so station signs, as they get off and look at every single stop. The routine appears to be that Kikuchi whines about how terribly dull it is, while Yokomi gives a little lecture on the particular charms of a station, whereupon he and Ishikawa bounce up and down happily. Every single station. Fifteen times. Oh, and they also have lunch, which cheers Kikuchi up a bit. At the end station, a relieved Kikuchi is hoping to finally get some exotic food and drink, but her little heart is crushed as the shops are closed for the night. Instead she gets to ride all the way home in the sunset, casually commenting on how it wasn’t as bad as she’d thought. Right. The trip is transformed into a manga, and all’s well that ends well, with a phone call from her sister congratulating her. Until she gets a fax from Yokomi telling her to meet up for a new trip anyway.

So who in the world could portray such an extreme character as ultimate train geek Yokomi? None other than Hiyama Nobuyuki, whom you may be familiar with from his role as Viral in Gurren-Lagann. No, it’s true. He does an excellent job, too. Or at least as excellent as I can imagine it’s possible to get. The poor mangaka lady is voiced by Tomisaka Akira, whoever that is. In any case she does a good job, which is all that matters in voice work, apart from being cute, since I hope to marry a voice actress one day, and a cute wife is a good wife. The production quality for this show is fairly much, well, shit. It looks like a plant, and not a very lively one, more like one of those unidentified green blobs your mother forced you to put in the window because everyone needs a bit of green in their lives, but you kept forgetting to water it, and now it’s looking quite miserable. I think the show has music, but trying to remember it gives me a big void.

In short, Tetsuko no Tabi is a tragic train geek adventure anime that tries to be funny by putting a hapless girl in a bizarre situation. Maybe it works for you, but I wasn’t very impressed. It’s still more entertaining than El Cazador, though. Especially if you like signs.

Reminds me of: Oh god I don’t know


  1. > So who in the world could portray such an extreme character as ultimate train geek Yokomi? None other than Hiyama Nobuyuki, whom you may be familiar with from his role as Viral in Gurren-Lagann.

    It would be better if you compared him with his role as Madarame in Genshiken, another typical otaku.

  2. After watching overflowing amounts of manliness and overall badassery in Gurren-Lagann, it’s nice to be able to cool down with shows like this and Lucky Star, although I’m still a little iffy about this one. I look forward to watching it, in any case (if some group decides to sub it, ’cause I can’t find the raw).

  3. watched it… as expected the production qualities are about as low as can get, and the show is more or less on the “extremely boring” side.

    that said, it has a kind of subtle charm to it – while it wasn’t enough to get me interested in the show, i could definitely see people enjoying this. there’s some of those factual tidbits like you get in yakitate japan; and besides, there hasn’t been a train anime, has there?

    while highly unlikely to garner any sort of success outside of the train otaku crowd, this show could very well “lay down the tracks” for future shows to improve upon.

  4. This anime is made for me!Except anime/manga otaku since 80`s, i`m also a former model railroader (U.S. prototype ca. 1950-1974)and lately i`ve been considering to build a N-scale layout after modern japanese prototype.Isn`t modelling a part of otakuism, or are figures only counted as? The important part of wonderfullness of anime is a wide spectrum of storytelling subjects, i believe.Anime is a wholly different beast, not like cartoon.

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