Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami


Information is inferred mostly from dialogue, as the narrator doesn’t state non-attributed facts, I think. There are no sentences like “Lilly was twenty” but are sentences like “They said Lilly had done fashion modeling, once” and “pretty soon we’ll both be twenty, right?”

[Race]/[Gender] (J = Japanese, A = American, X = Mixed-Race)


Ryu (J/M) First-person narrator. Lives alone in an apartment. Has view of a “general hospital” with a garden from his window. Age, 19, inferred from dialogue.

Lilly (J/F) Ryu’s friend and sexual partner. Not friends with Ryu’s main group of friends, whom she refers to as “weirdos.” Referred to as “whore-lady” by Kei in [9]. May formerly have done some fashion modeling. Lives within walking distance of Ryu. Works at a bar/restaurant.

Reiko (X/F) Okinawa’s girlfriend. Works at a bar. Is from Okinawa. Described as “fat.”

Okinawa (J/M) Reiko’s boyfriend. Formerly in rehab. Is from Okinawa. His name being the same as where he’s from isn’t addressed in the book, I think.

Kei (X/F) Yoshiyama’s girlfriend. Speaks (others tell her to stop) with an Osaka accent/dialect, sarcastically (others tell her to stop), that is conveyed as a “southern” accent in the English translation. Lives with Yoshiyama.

Yoshiyama (J/M) Kei’s boyfriend. The oldest in the immediate group of friends. Mother recently died and is unemployed.

Moko (J/F) Is in a recent issue of An-An, a fashion magazine. Says “nigger” often and shoplifts.

Kazuo (J/M) Photographs people often with a Nikomat camera which Ryu quotes him as saying is “more precious than life itself.”


Jackson (A/M) Black American and medic who uses vanilla extract during the orgy.

Bob (A/M) Black American with a “huge cock.”

Oscar (A/M) Black American described as “wiry-haired.”

Durham (A/M) Black American whose penis “bent fairly far” when “fully erect.”

Saburo (X/M) Has the largest penis at the orgy, according to Kei.


Male (J/M) Ryu’s friend who Ryu meets unexpectedly at the outdoor concert in [14]. Is 19 and his name is a nickname. Was in a band with Ryu in Kyoto. Possibly played piano in the band.

Meg (J/F) Wanted to play organ in Ryu and Male’s band. Lived with Male. Was badly burned in an accident. Mentioned in [14].

Ryu’s parents (J/-) Mentioned once, in [4], when Ryu says “They’re O.K., they worry about me, I get all kinds of letters.”

Ryu’s grandmother (J/F) Mentioned in [19] when he relates (to the reader) visiting her in the hospital when he was in grade school.

Kurokawa (?/M) Mentioned once, in [16], by Okinawa, who says “I met Kurokawa awhile back, he said he was really disgusted. He said he’d go to Algeria, be a guerrilla.”

Augusta (?/F) Mentioned once, in [21]. Mutual friend or acquaintance of Ryu and Lilly.

Sam (?/?) Mentioned once, in [4] by Kei, who says “Yoshiyama, Ah’m not coming back tonight because Ah’m going to Sam’s place.”

Ken (?/M) Mentioned in [1]. May have stabbed his brother.

Ken’s sister (?/F) Mentioned once, in [1].

Yoshiko (?/F) Mentioned once, in [2], as the nurse who “shot up in the butt” Okinawa each day with morphine when he was in rehab.

Blackey (?/?) Kei & Yoshiyama’s cat.

Tami (A/F) Referred to as “Bob’s woman.”

Tami’s brother (A/M) Referred to as “a big gangster” who is “real bad” in [7].

Green Eyes (A/M) Black American described by Jackson as “crazy, really, we don’t know where he lives or whether he has a family, just that he’s been here a lot longer than we have, seems he’s been in Japan an awful long time.”

Rudianna (A/F) Black American. Dancer. Taller than Ryu.

Sherry (A/F) Small girl with blonde hair who lives near and knows Lilly. Appears once, in [8].


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