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Literature / 1Q84

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A three-volume novel by Haruki Murakami.

Tengo is a writer who, one day, is asked by his editor to rewrite a strange book called Air Chrysalis. Aomame is a woman who once running late for a meeting ends up entering in a emergency passageway that gets her in an alternate dimension. As the novel progresses, the two stories start to converge.

Expect lots of postmodernism and Mind Screw.

The novel contains examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: The Little People are described in these exact words.
  • Abusive Parents: Aomame's parents disown her when she leaves the faith. Fuka-Eri receives abuse at the hands of Sakigake; she is imprisoned in a shed for 10 days as a consequence of dereliction of her duties.
  • Action Girl: Aomame, and possibly Ayumi.
  • Amoral Attorney: Before being kicked out of the Tokyo Bar Association Ushikawa was a lawyer that helped the yakuza and other unsavory types get away with money laundering and fraud. He had to take such clients mostly due to the difficulties his ugliness caused in getting normal clients.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The three things Aomame hates the most are abusive men, religious fanaticism, and constipation.
    • Also, Tamaru describes his gripes with the 20th century: the Holocaust, the atom bomb and modern classical music
  • As You Know: Used often as a means of exposition and summarizing previous events.
  • Asshole Victim: The men Aomame assassinates.
  • Badass Normal: Aomame and Tamaru.
  • Bad Moon Rising: In 1Q84, a second moon appears in the sky to show that something is not normal.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: Described as essential by the Leader.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Aomame is an assassin, but she only kills men who have been abusive and "despicable". As goes with the Madame who gives Aomame her assignments. Komatsu displays a more self-serving morality.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Discussed at length regarding an actual gun. Ultimately subverted, as the gun is never fired.
  • Cyanide Pill: Aomame holds onto a gun given to her by Tamaru, should the need to use it arise in the course of her mission to kill Leader. See Chekhov's Gun.
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  • Death by Sex: Ayumi.
  • Doorstopper: The Japanese version is 1600 pages long and the English version is 1,100 pages. The audiobook clocks in at over 46 hours.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: How Aomame ends up in the altered world. She exits the Metropolitan Expressway no. 3 in the beginning of the story through the emergency construction ladder.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It takes about 20 years for Aomame and Tengo to find each other.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Komatsu
  • Eldritch Abomination: Despite the name, the Little People have some shades of this too.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Leader is never named in speech, although his real name is Tamotsu Fukada.
  • Expy: Ushikawa, a rather weird, ugly man who works for the Big Bad and goes on at length about his own contemptible qualities, is very similar to a character also named Ushikawa in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
  • Fair Cop: Ayumi
  • First Girl Wins: After two decades apart, even.
  • Gainax Ending: Tengo and Aomame make it out of the two-moon world, but where they end up is not quite like how Aomame remembers it.
  • Genre-Busting: The novel is a fantasy/sci-fi/thriller mix.
  • Groin Attack: Aomame is an expert at the groin attack and leads a class teaching women to perform this trope.
  • The Grotesque: Ushikawa.
  • Hypocrite: Tengo's girlfriend, despite being married to someone else, insists on Tengo being completely monogamous.
  • Kick the Dog: The Little People's torture of Tsubasa.
  • Literary Allusion Title: 1Q84 is a pun on 1984.
  • Magical Realism
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Tengo's girlfriend conveniently disappears as Aomame gets closer to finding him.
    • Same thing with Ayumi getting killed.
  • Mushroom Samba: Tengo has a rather odd drug induced hallucination.
  • Mysterious Waif: Fuka-Eri who only exists to further the plot through deus ex machina knowledge of future events.
  • Never Say "Die": Aomame refers to people dying as "being sent to another world".
  • Not So Stoic: Ushikawa prides himself on being detached from connections with others and emotions. But his commentary makes it clear that he deeply misses his ex-wife and two daughters. As he dies he thinks of them.
  • Now Do It Again, Backwards: Aomame and Tengo are able to escape the world of 1Q84 by climbing back up the emergency escape ladder Aomame climbed down when she entered it.
  • Omnibus: Originally published as three separate volumes, the English release combined all into one really big book.
  • Oedipus Complex: Tengo struggles with his father, and convinces himself that the man is not his biological father. Tengo overcomes his father by reading to him, while he is in a coma. (Taking on a role-reversal of sorts, but also allowing Tengo to self-reflect, almost at his father's expense). In the same place, the town of cats, Tengo spends the night with one of the nurses, Kumi Adachi. He does not sleep with her, but he smokes hash with her and has a vivid memory of her luxuriant pubic hair (a sign of maturity). Later on after Tengo's father passes away, it is hinted that Kumi may be the reincarnation of Tengo's mother, though Tengo himself never comes close to making this connection.
  • Parrot Exposition: Happens a lot, especially when someone is talking to Fuka-Eri.
  • Postmodernism
  • Powers That Be: The little people.
  • Pressure Point: How Aomame kills.
  • Pun-Based Title: The title is a pun on 1984. The number 9 in Japanese is pronounced the same as the English letter Q.
  • The Red Stapler: Janácek's Sinfonietta became more popular after the release of this book.
  • Sadistic Choice: Aomame can either kill the leader, causing the Little People to lose any interest in Tengo but result in Sagikake coming after her, or let him live, in which case the Little People will arrange Tengo's death.
    • She ultimately chooses to kill the leader, but the effects don't get explored in time.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: The book ends with Tengo and Aomame sleeping together.
  • Sequel Hook: As the third books ends, the Little People have started weaving another air chrysalis out of Ushikawa's dead soul.
  • Shadow Archetype: Maza and Dohta
  • Spoiler Title: After 78 chapters of Tengo and Aomame looking for each other, the last chapter of Book 3 is called "Tengo and Aomame".
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: "Tengo and Aomame"
  • The Stoic: Fuka-Eri never shows emotions. This is because she was separated from her dohta at a young age, a dohta being revealed as the shadow of one's heart. She isn't the cliché shell-of-a-person zombie-like character in the absence of her shadow; she still has a semblance of personality. Murakami has a unique conception of a person's shadow, which appears in other works. See [1]
  • Story Within a Story: Air Chrysalis, written by Fuka-Eri and edited by Tengo.
    • Also a short story called "Town of Cats" by a German writer, which is repeatedly referenced in Tengo's chapters.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: The taxi driver comparing Aomame to Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), after Aomame had previously thought over the similarities herself.
  • The Rat: Averted. The only people who know about Aomame's assassinations are Tamaru and the Madame herself. While one might be able to expect Aomame being ratted on, instead she becomes part of the Madame's protected 'family'. Tamaru shares with Aomame a story of his past involving a half-black half-Japanese child in his orphanage carving rats out of wooden blocks. He uses the term, "pulling the rat out" of the blocks of wood. The author also pulls the possible rat from the story
  • This Is Reality: Tamaru to Aomame, see Chekhov's Gun
  • Three Lines, Some Waiting: Books 1 & 2 are Two Lines, No Waiting with Tengo and Aomame, but Book 3 introduces Ushikawa. Ushikawa's plot line runs slightly behind the plot lines of of Tengo and Aomame's. Some events are re-told later in the book, from Ushikawa's perspective.
  • Threshold Guardians: The Esso Tiger on the billboard on the expressway where Aomame enters 1Q84. He is seen multiple times, kind of acts as a gatekeeper since he is present at the gate to parallel dimensions.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Aomame thinks that the illegality of her actions are a trivial detail.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Tengo. What's odd is that he manages to come to an understanding while his father is in a coma.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Aomame kills people who, as far as she's concerned, deserve it.
  • Weapon of Choice: Aomame uses a small ice pick to kill her targets. One stab to the brain, leaving a wound hardly bigger than a mosquito bite.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: The motivation of Aomame and the Dowager.

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