Thought I’d break things up a bit, and post about something that wasn’t about video games for once. I’ve been watching a lot more TV lately. Lots of shows about trains in Japan. Something I’ve discovered recently is that I really fucking like trains. Not so much the internal specs; what engines they run on or fast they go or whatever, but simply watching them cruise along the gorgeous countryside, or even in a bustling, well-lit city. Don’t really know why it tickles that feel-good part of my brain, but it’s incredibly relaxing to watch a train go by. Of course, I know about the magic of television editing, and that trains and their stations and their passengers have problems. Well aware of that last one. But the core of locomotion is appealing to me. Spending 20-40 minutes at a time watching them ride the rails is a no-brainer.
There are two shows in particular I’ve been binge-watching, the way normies do with Netflix Originals: Japan Railway Journal, and Train Cruise. Japan Railway Journal is more of a “news” type program, focusing on new lines and the economic side of things, with the occasional “let’s have fun actually riding these things.” And now that Russell Totten is no longer the host, the show lost its personality; everything just feels so fake and put-on now. With the older episodes, it felt more casual, with the cast cracking jokes and at least looking like they wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. Like, for fucks’ sake, episode 2 was filmed in a bar, not some stuffy news room. That’s pretty cool, actually.
These days, there’s not much of a reason to watch this one, unless you’re really into the business side of things (and don’t mind some episodes being blatant advertisements for private train companies), and not like me, where my whole thought process is “train go vroom.” Or maybe you want to get really angry at the fact that some company thought it was a good idea to charge seventy-five fucking dollars for this:
Train Cruise, on the other hand, is the show to watch. It’s far more casual. A revolving door of hosts, each an actor or a musician, traveling down an entire line, all while showing off various sights/restaurants/museums/etc along the way.
It’s very clear that the hosts are having a good time on these trips, which in turn, is fun to watch.
There’s been at least one episode that was pretty serious. It covered how people and local businesses have recovered (or attempted to recover) from the devastating Tohoku tsunami of 2011. But for the most part, these are just some fun shows to watch and relax to. If you took a Benadryl for Summer allergies before watching, you will pass out mid-way through, thanks to all the lingering shots of scenery, and that ambient music in the background.
At risk of being one of those IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES dickheads, it is kind of a bittersweet thing watching all of these during quarantine time. Because with the way things are, travel is going to be a no-go for some time, if ever. I mean traveling between states, forget about international travel. Even though these shows are obviously edited for TV; riding a train is not nearly as magical in real life, it still looks like a lot of fun being able to go out into the world and see all the cool sights and eat at some hole-in-the-wall restaurant. I haven’t been able to do that in a number of years, and I might not be able to do that ever again. But at least I’ll be able watch these and live vicariously through the hosts, as sad as that honestly kind of sounds.
Tetsudo English is the YouTube channel where I’ve watching these. I’m sure there are plenty of other channel out there that can be found with a simple search.