[[quoteright:329:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/umibenokafka_7021.jpg]]

->''On my fifteenth birthday I'll run away from home, journey to a far-off town, and live in a corner of a small library. It'd take a week to go into the whole thing, all the details. So I'll just give the main point. '''On my fifteenth birthday I'll run away from home, journey to a far-off town, and live in a corner of a small library.'''''

''Kafka on the Shore'' (Japanese: 海辺のカフカ, ''Umibe no Kafuka'') is a 2002 novel by Creator/HarukiMurakami that features two distinct plots that are nonetheless intertwined. The first is about fifteen year-old "[[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname Kafka]]" Tamura who runs away from home in order to avoid fulfilling an oedipal prophecy. The second follows Nakata, a mentally slow old man who has the ability to talk to cats, as he gets dragged into a journey across Japan running parallel to Kafka's own. It begins realistic enough, but soon takes a turn for the [[MindScrew surreal]] and it becomes clear that neither will be having a normal journey.
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!!This novel contains examples of:
* ArcWords: Cryptic references to an "entrance stone" start showing up about halfway into the book.
* AsleepForDays: When Hoshino and Nakata arrive in Shikoku, Nakata promptly goes to sleep for 34 hours. He pulls this off at least two more times.
* AssholeVictim: [[spoiler: Nakata stabs Johnnie Walker to death...and we're cheering him on the whole way, since Johnnie Walker horrifically mutilates and kills cats which are paralyzed but feel the pain]].
* AstralProjection: Ever since a strange event during World War II, [[spoiler: people from Kafka's and Nakata's town have been known to do this randomly. Itís never truly voluntary and they often don't remember that they even left. Some are worse afflicted than others.]]
** Also a [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] by Oshima and Kafka when Kafka realizes that the [[spoiler:ghost girl is probably the still-alive Miss Saeki]]. The conversation also opens Kafka to the possibility that he [[spoiler:killed his father via astral projection]].
* AuthorAppeal: As usual in the case of Murakami; music, especially classical music and opera.
** Also, cats.
* BeatStillMyHeart: [[spoiler:With cats.]]
* BequeathedPower: After [[spoiler: Nakata dies]], it seems that Hoshino gains his ability to speak to cats.
* {{Bishonen}}: Oshima is described as "pretty, rather than handsome" with a clean look and a charming smile.
* BigBad: [[spoiler: While unexpected due to the somewhat dreamlike flow of the story, on a second reading one can see that Johnnie Walker was pulling the strings from the start, and may in fact be Kafka's father.]]
* BloodSplatteredInnocents: A few days after running away, Kafka blacks out for about four hours and wakes up with his shirt stained with someone else's blood. Despite apparently no one being around for him to have attacked, [[spoiler:Kafka comes to fear that he may have killed his father via AstralProjection]].
* BlueAndOrangeMorality: [[spoiler: Colonel Sanders]] claims to not know what "right" or "wrong" are and only cares about keeping the timeline/universe in order.
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: When Nakata is describing Johnnie Walker, he makes some general observations about his clothes before [[spoiler: adding that Johnnie Walker is collecting cats so he can steal their souls.]]
** This really isn't that "squicky", except the reader knows how Johnnie Walker gets those souls.
* BrotherSisterIncest: [[spoiler: Sakura ''might'' be Kafka's sister.]]
* BroughtDownToNormal: [[spoiler:Nakata loses the ability to talk to cats after killing Johnnie Walker. Ultimately subverted for a possible DiscardAndDraw--he may have already had these abilities, but after that incident he displays the ability to make it rain animals, the ability to speak to the entrance stone, and some kind of sixth sense that allows him to find the stone and the Komura Library]].
* TheCassandra: Played with; Nakata goes to the police after he [[spoiler: kills Johnnie Walker]], but of course his story is so ludicrous the police don't believe it. However, when he has to go on a journey to open "the entrance stone", Hoshino takes everything in stride and does everything he asks.
* {{Catchphrase}}: Nakata, with "[food item] are one of Nakata's favorites."
* CatsAreMagic: They can talk, though only Nakata [[spoiler: and later Hoshino]] can understand them, and they're somehow integral to Johnnie Walker's plans.
* ChekhovsGun: Directly [[DiscussedTrope discussed]] by [[spoiler: Colonel Sanders]] and Hoshino.
* ChildhoodFriendRomance: Miss Saeki had one...it ended badly.
* CoolOldGuy: Nakata is a bit strange, but he's an unambiguously good man.
* DeadpanSnarker: [[spoiler: Colonel Sanders]] has little patience for Hoshino's questioning.
* DiscardAndDraw: [[spoiler:Nakata loses the ability to talk to cats but gains the ability to make it rain animals, to detect and talk to the entrance stone, and to locate Komura Library when he cannot even read street signs]].
* DogsAreDumb: "Cats know everything" says one cat, "unlike dogs."
* DreamLand: Near the end of the book, [[spoiler: Kafka subconcious drives him to infiltrate a dream of Sakura's to [[IncestIsRelative fulfill the other half of the prophecy]] even though he doesn't want to]].
* DudeShesLikeInAComa: Near the end of the book, [[spoiler:Kafka initiates sex with a sleeping Sakura in a mutual dream. She wakes up during and informs him that even if they're dreaming, this is definitely rape. Kafka continues anyway]].
* {{Everyman}}: Hoshino.
* EroticDream: Nakata's teacher has one which sets off a bizarre chain of events, and Kafka himself has a few. [[spoiler: its slowly revealed that both people were more likely [[AstralProjection astral projecting]] and what they did was "real"]]
* EyeScream: [[spoiler: The boy named Crow delivers a pretty nasty one to Johnnie Walker, who is unfazed and amused by it.]]
* FauxSymbolism: Kafka's in-universe reaction to the lyrics of "Kafka on the Shore", [[TropesAreTools not that he considers it a bad thing.]]
* AFormYouAreComfortableWith: [[spoiler: Colonel Sanders is actually a sort of conceptual being. He considered taking on the form of MickeyMouse, [[YouWannaGetSued but decided against it]]]]. This may also be the case with Johnnie Walker.
* {{Gaydar}}: Hoshino quickly pegs [[spoiler:Oshima]] as a homosexual.
* {{Gorn}}: Not often, but there are a couple of extremely visceral scenes, mostly involving [[HumanoidAbomination Johnnie Walker]].
* HomoeroticSubtext: Oshima and Kafka frequently compliment each other's looks, Kafka blushing in response a few times.
* HumanoidAbomination: Johnnie Walker [[spoiler: and later Colonel Sanders.]] Judging from the latter's dialogue, they seem to be sentient "archetypes" of some sort that represent cosmic forces.
* ICannotSelfTerminate: [[spoiler:Johnnie Walker has to request that Nakata kill him, since "the rules" prevent him from simply committing suicide.]]
* [[IllGirl Ill Boy]]: Oshima is a hemophiliac.
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: Something like that.
* IntergenerationalFriendship: Nakata and Hoshino, a truck driver in his twenties who thinks that Nakata resembles his own grandfather.
* ItsPersonal: Initially Nakata is unable to stop [[spoiler: Johnnie Walker]] as he begins horrifically killing cats right in front of him, but when he pulls out Mimi, a clever Siamese who helped Nakata earlier, he finally snaps out of his terror and attacks.
* JigsawPuzzlePlot: Especially Nakata's side of the story, which is partly divulged through military documents and personal correspondence.
* KickTheDog: When Nakata was little, his teacher hit him in the head for [[CaughtWithYourPantsDown seeing her clean up her period blood]], resulting in him being mentally disabled.
** Or, if you take the magical realism angle, it's the influence of the shiny thing in the sky. After all, blunt trauma usually doesn't qualify people to speak to cats, does it?
** Two words: Johnnie. Walker.
* KilledOffForReal: [[spoiler: Johnnie Walker, Miss Saeki, Nakata, Some of the talking cats, and Kafka's dad.]]
* LikeBrotherAndSister: Whether Kafka and Sakura actually are siblings or not, Sakura sees their relationship this way.
* MagicAIsMagicA: Johnnie Walker and his quest for a [[spoiler:cat soul flute]] are bound by very strict and specific rules.
** He must [[spoiler:kill the cat in a way that would have it experience pain]].
** He cannot [[spoiler:cover his clothes from the blood splatter]].
** He is bound to complete the [[spoiler:flute]] and [[ICannotSelfTerminate cannot get out of it through suicide]].
* MagicMusic: Presumably the case with [[spoiler:Johnnie Walker's flute]].
* MagicalRealism: It's by and large an average story, except for the talking cats.
** And the fish. ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raining_fish Or not.]])
** And the whole dream thing.
** Not to mention the Greek tragedy angle.
** Of course there's the whole "Johnnie Walker" part as well.
** Which leads us to the entrance stone.
** And the soldiers.
** And [[spoiler:Colonel Sanders]].
* MayDecemberRomance: Kafka and [[spoiler: Miss Saeki.]]
* {{Megane}}: Oshima.
* MiddleChildSyndrome: Hoshino.
* MindScrew:
** Dives headlong into this with Johnnie Walker's introduction. [[spoiler:He's collecting the souls of cats to craft from them a human soul-stealing flute, which will escalate from there into a flute "big enough to rival the universe". He goads Nakata into killing him, after which Nakata passes out. Nakata wakes up back in the vacant lot conspicuously ''not'' splattered with blood and apparently having lost the ability to talk to cats. As he tries to turn himself in, he successfully predicts that it will rain fish. And when they finally find a body, it's nude and belongs to ''Kafka's father'']].
** With the exception of the first time, whenever Kafka [[spoiler:has sex with Miss Saeki]], the narration switches to second-person, with inconsistent use of the [[PaintingTheMedium boldface type]] that comes in whenever Kafka is normally talking to himself/the boy named Crow (who is Kafka's alter-ego; note also that the name "Kafka" itself means "crow"). The effect is rather confusing.
* MoralityPet: Nakata is this to pretty much everyone he meets in-story, as he's a kindly, illiterate old man who is a little senile, which leads people to pity him and give him extra food or a ride somewhere. Hoshino even states Nakata makes him think of his grandfather.
* MissingMom: Kafka's mom left when he was very young, taking his sister with her.
* MrsRobinson: [[spoiler: Miss Saeki, who might also be Kafka's mother.]]
* MyGreatestFailure: It's strongly implied that [[spoiler: Miss Saeki is Kafka's mother who walked out on him, and she's been living in isolation as a self-imposed punishment ever since.]]
* NewWeird
* NiceGuy: Nakata is unfailingly polite and good-natured.
* NoPeriodsPeriod: Averted for drama, rather than comedy.
* NotSoStoic: This is arguably the point of Kafka's story arc.
* OocIsSeriousBusiness: [[spoiler: While awake, Kafka is a troubled but fundamentally good person. Its therefore clear that unlike when he apparently killed his father (Whom he might have actually hated enough to kill) when he entered Sakura's dream to rape her, the prophecy was obviously manipulating him through his subconscious.]]
* OneHitWonder: In-Universe. [[spoiler:Miss Saeki, with "Kafka on the Shore".]] It was also her ''only'' song--there wasn't even a different song for the B-side.
* OrWasItADream: It's ambiguous as to whether or not [[spoiler: Kafka actually raped Sakura.]] Given the way she behaves towards Kafka when he calls her the end of the book, it doesn't seem likely.
* PaintingTheMedium: In some ways more subtle than others.
** Kafka's side of the story is written in first-person present tense; Nakata's is written in third-person past tense.
** Kafka talks to himself/the boy named Crow talks to Kafka in unquoted boldface type, as does Johnnie Walker's dog.
** A letter from Nakata's childhood teacher has the text left-aligned; the rest of the book is justified.
* [[spoiler: ParentalIncest]]
* ParrotExposition: Oshima has some fun with this when the {{Straw Feminist}}s come around.
* PerpetualFrowner: Kafka.
* TheRunaway: Kafka runs away from his dad's home because he is afraid of fulfilling a prophecy that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother and sister.
* SelectiveObliviousness: [[spoiler:Saeki's lover was killed by student revolutionaries who mistook him for a university official and refused to listen otherwise]].
* SelfFulfillingProphecy: Try as he might, [[spoiler: Kafka still ends up sleeping with his mother, even when he runs away from home in an attempt to avoid his father's prophecy.]]
* ShoutOut: Oshima quotes ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'' and ''Theatre/{{Electra}}'' and makes references to several other pieces of literature.
* ShrugOfGod: Murakami specifically states in his blog that the interpretation of [[spoiler: Saeki and Kafka being related]], as well many other parts of the novel, are all up to the reader.
* SiblingYinYang: Oshima is charming, well-read, and physically weak. His older brother is an asocial surfer. [[spoiler:Subverted when Kafka finally meets Oshima's brother. Oshima is really just as asocial, but Kafka is somehow able to tease conversation out of both brothers]].
* SidetrackedByTheAnalogy: Frequently by Nakata, the analogy given by Hoshino.
* SpeaksFluentAnimal: Nakata uses his ability to find people's lost pets.
* [[spoiler: StarfishAlien]]: [[spoiler:Johnnie Walker's true form is something like a vaguely serpentine blob]].
* StrangeMindsThinkAlike: When Kafka encounters a ghostly girl in his room, he likens the atmosphere to being at the bottom of a crater lake. "Kafka on the Shore"'s lyrics also mention of a crater lake.
* SurpriseIncest: [[spoiler: Kafka has sex with two women who might be his mom and sister.]]
* SuspiciouslyAproposMusic: In-universe; Kafka finds "Kafka on the Shore"'s lyrics to be oddly prescient.
* ThanatosGambit: [[spoiler: This may have been Johnnie Walker's plan - get killed by Nakata to hitchhike a ride with him so he could get to the entrance stone. The book is rather vague.]]
** It still holds true, because [[spoiler: even if he didn't hitch a ride, he would be stuck making the soul flute if Nakata had not killed him, and therefore unable to reach the entrance stone.]]
* ThirdPersonPerson: Nakata.
* TitleDrop: Dropped by Oshima when he reveals that "Kafka on the Shore" is a song in-universe.
* TrademarkFavoriteFood: Nakata brings up eel at every opportunity.
* {{Transsexual}}: [[spoiler: Oshima is female-to-male transsexual attracted to men. He's intersex as well, having underdeveloped breasts and no period]].
* TwoLinesNoWaiting: It switches back and forth between Kafka and Nakata's stories, with occasional digressions for other characters like Oshima.
* WhamEpisode: In chapter 38, Nakata and Hoshino finally find the place they're looking for. And where should it be but [[spoiler:Komura Memorial Library]]?
* WhamLine: Oshima certainly knows how to shut up {{Straw Feminist}}s.
-->''"First of all, [[spoiler:I'm not a male]]," Oshima announces.\\
A dumbfounded silence follows on the part of everybody. I gulp and shoot Oshima a glance.\\
"[[spoiler:I'm a woman]]," he says.''
* WholePlotReference: Kafka's story is one to ''Oedipus Rex'', which gets pointed out in-universe.
* YouKeepUsingThatWord: Oshima corrects the {{Straw Feminist}}s [[spoiler: on their use of [[YouKeepUsingThatWord/LessPedantic "gender"]]]].
* YourSoulIsMine: [[spoiler:Johnnie Walker is killing cats so he can take their souls and make a flute from them, which he'll use to steal human souls and continue from there]].