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The chase is over, but the dance is just beginning...
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Dance Dance Dance (ダンス・ダンス・ダンス Dansu Dansu Dansu) is a 1988 novel by Haruki Murakami. As the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase, it follows the same unnamed protagonist as he returns to the Dolphin Hotel in search of his former girlfriend. He's quickly drawn into a surreal mystery involving the enigmatic Sheep Man, psychic visions, prostitutes, a teenage girl, and murder. The result is a story that delves into the themes of change, loss, and the power of human connection.


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The novel contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Alone with the Psycho: Inverted from the usual way. The narrator and the killer go out for pizza at a crowded Shakey's, and the narrator has to awkwardly broach the subject while they're eating. After admitting he killed Kiki, Gotanda slips away while the narrator goes to get a beer, and kills himself shortly afterwards.
  • Amicably Divorced: Yuki's parents, and Gotanda and his ex-wife.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Dick North lost an arm in Vietnam. He gets by just fine without it, though.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Yuki has had an exceptionally lonely childhood. Her psychic powers make it even worse.
  • Author Appeal: Murakami's love of surrealism and jazz are present and accounted for. However, he also wrote this story as a way to deal with the unexpected fame and success of Norwegian Wood. He also stated that he enjoyed writing this more than any other novel.
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  • Ax-Crazy: Gotanda.
  • Backup from Otherworld: Kiki is one, after it's revealed that Gotanda strangled her in the shadow world.
  • Big Bad Friend: Gotanda.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Yuki's father is a successful author who doesn't understand his daughter in the slightest. Yuki's mother is a highly skilled photographer and a really unreliable Cloud Cuckoo Lander living in Hawaii with a new boyfriend. Yuki herself is a bitterly lonely and psychic teenager.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The narrator gets together with Yumiyoshi and solves the mystery, but Kiki and Gotanda are dead, the Sheep Man has vanished, and Yuki's future with her crazy parents won't be pleasant.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Yuki plays this straight...at first.
  • Bus Crash: Kiki was Put on a Bus at the end of A Wild Sheep Chase and died before the start of this story.
  • Call-Back: Only a few with regards to A Wild Sheep Chase:
    • Kiki's ears having strange powers.
    • Kipper, the narrator's pet cat.
    • The narrator becoming a freelancer after leaving his old job.
  • Catchphrase: "Shoveling cultural snow."
  • Cerebus Callback: Pretty much any time the phrase "shoveling snow" or "cuck-koo" are mentioned after Mei is murdered.
    • Gotanda's joke about crashing the Maserati wasn't a joke at all. He was already contemplating suicide.
  • Chekhov's Gun: the scene with Gotanda and Kiki in Unrequited Love
    • Gotanda's Maserati.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Amé, who's so spacy that she strands her teenage daughter in hotels while she travels the world.
    • Everyone considers the unnamed protagonist to be one.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Dick North is this for Amé.
  • Consummate Professional: Yumiyoshi is this when on the clock. She's not quite as straight-laced in her free time.
  • Continuity Nod: The first part of the novel deals with the fate of the old Dolphin Hotel, the setting for part of A Wild Sheep Chase. Also, the Sheep Man not only recognizes and advises the protagonist, but he's waiting for him to show up.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Gotanda talks about how celebrities are expected to have extravagant things, and how much he loathes every second of it.
  • Cool Car: The Maserati. Gotanda hates it because someone of his celebrity stature is expected to drive one. He - and pretty much all the other characters - vastly prefers the narrator's old Subaru.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The new hotel management tries to keep the otherworldly secret of the building under wraps, to the point the staff are afraid to talk about their experiences.
  • Dead All Along: Kiki died before the story began.
  • Dead Person Conversation: The narrator has one with Kiki near the end. However, it's left ambiguous if she's really dead or she's simply moved on to another dimension.
  • Death Seeker: Gotanda gradually becomes one, with tragic results.
  • Disposable Woman: Mei dies a few chapters after being introduced, gets the novel's murder mystery plot going.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Mei and Kiki.
  • Double Consciousness: Gotanda attempts to explain it during The Reveal. There's a big, deep chasm between his real self and his actor self, accompanied by extremely violent urges.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: It happens to the narrator, most prominently as a warning that six of his acquaintances - but not specifically who - will be dead before the adventure ends.
  • Dream Sequence: Whenever Kiki wants to show him something. It's usually in the form of a hotel room with half a dozen skeletons, each one representing a character who will die.
  • Driven to Suicide: Gotanda. Literally.
  • Dwindling Party: The characters gradually leave or die off, eventually leaving the narrator and Yumiyoshi.
  • Dying as Yourself: Gotanda really hates being a celebrity, constantly talks about escaping the lifestyle, and jokes about wrecking his Maserati. That's exactly what he does in the end.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Most definitely not Played for Laughs.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The narrator begins the story trying to find out what happened to his girlfriend. By the end of the novel, he's done so and helped solve a murder case for which he's initially a suspect, befriends a former classmate turned suicidally depressed celebrity, become immersed in the life of a psychic girl and her neglectful parents, and has begun a new romance.
  • Emo Teen: Yuki. Given her neglectful parents and psychic powers it's not surprising.
  • Foreseeing My Death: Not for himself, but the other characters.
  • Foreshadowing: There's a very good reason Yuki hates the Maserati. It's the car Gotanda used to dispose of Kiki's body.
    • The Sheep Man saying that everything's connected. It's not until the narrator takes Yuki to see Gotanda and Kiki in Unrequited Love that the murderer is uncovered.
    • The narrator's vision involving the six skeletons. Five characters are dead by the end of the novel, leaving you to guess the identity of the last one.
  • Harmful to Minors: Yuki gets a vision of Gotanda murdering Kiki. She's deeply shaken and physically ill for most of the chapter afterward.
  • High-Class Call Girl: There's a whole network of them.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Mei.
  • Idiot Ball: The narrator gets up to get a beer right after Gotanda confessed to killing Kiki, then musing over the idea of running off to Hawaii. Not only does Gotanda slip away while the narrator's back his turned, he drives off and eventually kills himself. All because the narrator left him alone for a few moments.
  • Idle Rich: Both of Yuki's parents first appear as such, though they do most of their creative work - writing and photography respectively - off-screen.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Between the narrator and Yuki.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: Gotanda realizes how hollow the whole celebrity culture is, and how it's making him be someone he's not.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Gotanda has a lot of problems dealing with his fame.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: It's pretty clear that the narrator is the only friend Gotanda has.
  • Killed Off for Real: The Rat, Kiki, Mei, Dick North, and Gotanda, all of which are symbolized by the six skeletons in the narrator's vision. However, Kiki's exact nature is ambiguous, and the sixth person is never revealed.
    • On a minor, sad note to fans of the previous novel, Kipper.
  • Last Girl Wins: Yumiyoshi.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Yuki.
  • Magical Realism: Everything involving the Sheep Man, from his mysterious location to his ability to keep people connected. Also, Yuki is psychic.
  • Marked to Die: One of the skeletons only has one arm, just like Dick North.
  • Mind Screw: How much of the dreams are real? Where does the Sheep Man's floor of the hotel exist, and how can someone like Yumiyoshi reach it? Where did Kiki go?
  • Motor Mouth: The Sheep Man, as usual.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Gotanda can pretty much do this with anything, even high school science.
  • Murder Makes You Crazy: Or in Gotanda's case, even crazier.
  • Nameless Narrative: It's the same unnamed narrator from A Wild Sheep Chase. However, his then-unnamed girlfriend now has a name: Kiki. However, it might be only a pseudonym.
  • Odd Friendship: The narrator and Yuki have one. The same goes with Gotanda, but with much more tragic results.
  • Older and Wiser: The narrator has definitely matured a bit between books.
  • Old Flame: Gotanda and his wife divorced due to pressure from her family and the media culture. They end up having secret flings together anyway.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Mei, June, and Kiki.
  • Only Sane Woman: Yumiyoshi doesn't respond to the surreal aspects of the story nearly as well as the others.
  • Opposites Attract: The narrator and Yumiyoshi have a bit of this going on. He's seen as a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, while she's more an Only Sane Woman. The only thing they have in common at first is their encounters with the Sheep Man.
    • Had they stayed together, Yuki's parents would have likely been the same.
  • Oracular Urchin: Yuki knows way more than a young teenager should.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Dick North is a skilled poet, but he's got nothing on Amé's photography.
  • Parental Abandonment: Yuki's mother does this to her frequently when she runs off on photography jobs.
  • Parental Neglect: Both of Yuki's parents are guilty of this. Hiraku Makimura thinks throwing money at his problems and spoiling his daughter from a distance will win her over. Amé frequently forgets Yuki is even there and runs off on photography jobs whenever inspiration strikes.
  • Parental Substitute: Mr. Makimura tries to pay the narrator into becoming one for Yuki, but he refuses and comes up with his own terms.
  • Personal Effects Reveal: The only thing found on Mei's body is the narrator's business card, resulting in him being a suspect.
  • Posthumous Character: Kiki. She was murdered in the shadow dimension, but not necessarily in the real one.
  • The Power of Acting: It doesn't matter what the film or commercial is about, Gotanda can sell it.
  • The Power of Friendship: Yuki really needed to have someone in her corner. The narrator helped her get over her disillusionment toward life and was only person who understood her powers.
    • Gotanda attempts to use the narrator to curb his psychotic tendencies, but fails.
  • The Power of Trust: Thanks to the narrator's presence, Yumiyoshi is able to return to and navigate the Sheep Man's realm without panicking.
  • Psychic Powers: Yuki experiences detailed visions, usually in the form of retrocognition.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Both of Yuki's parents, especially Amé.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The identity of the sixth skeleton.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Dick North, Amé's one-armed lover.
  • Romance on the Set: Between Gotanda and his ex-wife, and briefly with Kiki. The latter becomes incredibly important later on.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Mr. Makimura tries to pay the narrator into becoming Yuki's Parental Substitute...
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: ...Only for the narrator to chew him out and make an agreement on his terms.
    • Gotanda despises the lifestyle and expectations that come with fame, has a secret affair with his ex, and ends up killing himself.
  • Second Love: Yumiyoshi eventually becomes one.
  • Serial Killer: Gotanda. He was already psychologically unbalanced growing up, but the pressures of the celebrity lifestyle sent him off the deep end.
  • Show Within a Show: Unrequited Love, Gotanda's movie.
  • Significant Anagram: Yuki's father is named Hiraku Makimura, which is an anagram of Haruki Murakami. It could be a case of Self-Deprecation, as Mr. Makimura is a successful writer who thinks his wealth will solve his problems. Yuki has absolutely zero respect for him.
  • Society Marches On: In-Universe, when narrator decides to go back to the Dolphin Hotel. The hotel was bought out between novels, and is completely redesigned and refurbished. The old building never left, though...
  • Spirit Advisor: The Sheep Man exists in his own pocket dimension in the hotel that few can access. Kiki can travel between dimensions at will.
  • Split Personality: Gotanda hides one, with tragic results.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Yumiyoshi is a consummate professional while on the clock. She loosens up a bit during her free time.
  • Suicide, Not Accident: Gotanda launches his Maserati into the bay, but it didn't fool anyone. Foreshadowing aside, there were plenty of witnesses.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Gotanda.
  • Take That!: Gotanda's entire character arc is a criticism of the price of fame and celebrity culture, which Murakami was dealing with at the time of writing.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Gotanda strangled Kiki, and it's clear he feels terrible and confused about it.
  • Those Two Guys: Fisherman and Bookish, the two cops who interrogate the narrator after Mei is murdered.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Kiki, Mei, Dick North, and to a lesser extent, Kipper.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Inverted. Gotanda wanted the narrator's good, relatively sane personality to rub off on him in an attempt to regain his own sanity. It failed miserably.
  • Trilogy Creep: Dance Dance Dance is the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase, which is itself the ending of The Trilogy of the Rat.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Yuki's occasional moments of deep maturity aside, she's also already a smoker.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Mei.
  • Tsundere: Yumiyoshi has her moments early on.
  • You Are Not Alone: Alienation is a big theme in this story. It's also a case of You ALL Share My Story, as the Sheep Man states that everything is connected.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The old Dolphin Hotel was bought out and refurbished. The Sheep Man is still there, though.
  • Younger Than They Look: Yuki is barely a teenager, but she acts like an older one.


You gotta dance. As long as the music plays.
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