connections between “kafka on the shore” and the hyyh trilogy
Kafka On The Shore & “Butterfly”
Keep in mind that “Butterfly” is a song whose entire production (lyrics, production,and arrangement) was led by BangPD himself. It can only be suspected that he wrote it with the intentions of it properly reflecting the entirety of the HYYH series.
Not only was there a blatant allusion to the novel in the lyrics to Namjoon’s verse:
심장은 메마른 소리를 내
꿈인지 현실인지 알 수 없네
나의 해변의 카프카여
저기 숲으로 가진 말아줘
내 마음은 아직 너 위에 부서져
조각조각 까맣게 녹아 흘러
(난 그냥 이대로 증발하고 싶어)
내 사랑은 영원인 걸
It’s all free for you baby
My heart lets out a barren sound
I cannot tell whether this is a dream or reality
My Kafka on the shore,
Don’t go to the forest over there
My heart is still shattering above you
Piece by piece, they darkly melt
(I just want to evaporate like this)
My love is eternal
It’s all free for you baby
But the entire song was reminiscent of the novel. If you look at the lyrics closely, you can actually see that they were inspired by the scene of Kafka’s and Miss. Saeki’s final meeting.
For those who have never read the novel, I’ll try my best to sum this part up (though I truly recommend that you read it for yourself, as there’s so many details in this novel that makes it impossible for me to just merely paraphrase Murakami’s writing): In this scene, Kafka travels deep into a forest and enters a parallel universe in the form of a small cabin town in the middle of the dense woods. In this place, time and memory do not matter. After spending a night within one of the cabins, he wakes up to the image of a fifteen year old girl cooking in the kitchen. This girl is the younger form of Miss. Saeki, who outside of this parallel universe was Kafka’s lover and (possible) long lost mother. However within this world, the fifteen year old Miss. Saeki has no clue of the relationship she would have with him later in her age and does not even know her own name.
The first obvious connection between this scene and the lyrics of “Butterfly” is that upon laying eyes on this girl, Kafka wants to reach out and touch her- he has not seen Miss. Saeki (in either forms) in weeks at this time and has longed to see her even if it’s just through a dream. But he can’t bring himself to and out of disbelief, even asks her later on if he would see her again and if she was going to suddenly disappear -> “I still can’t believe it. All of this seems like a dream. Don’t try to disappear. If I touch you, would you fly away and shatter? I’m scared of that”
More connections comes with the “real” Miss. Saeki’s appearance into this parallel world. In reality, while Kafka was deep in the forest, Miss. Saeki passed away after ordering an other character to burn (thus erase) her memories which were in the forms of various papers and files. Her essence enters this strange world where time does not matter to tell Kafka to leave the forest and return to real life, even if it meant returning to a world that did not care for him. She also asks him to take the painting entitled “Kafka on the Shore” that was hung in his room in the library (in the real world, Miss. Saeki owned a library that Kafka stumbled upon after running away from home to escape his father and prophecy- sleeping with his mother and sister, killing his father. Kafka ended up working there and thus lived in the library). She tells him that the painting was originally supposed to be his and that he was at the scene that the painting depicts- revealing the memory of his mother (who had left him early in his life) that he had always struggled to recall. While doing so, she walks up to the window and blocks her eyes from the sunlight with her hand -> “My Kafka on the Shore, don’t go to that forest over there. Your eyebrows that slightly grimace at the sunlight. Your downy hair that gently wavers. I’m intoxicated by your scene, my heart tickles”
Kafka On The Shore & BTS’ Films/Music Videos
1) In the HYYH series, Jungkook plays a boy that ran away from home
Similarly, in Kafka On The Shore, Kafka Tamura runs away from home at the age of fifteen- which is the age that Jungkook joined BTS. Also the opening line to “Begin”, his solo, is “the fifteen year old me that had nothing”.
2) Kafka runs away from home, as previously stated, to escape a prophecy in which he is to kill his father and sleep with his long lost mother and sister. Throughout the plot, he finds that his fate is one that cannot be escaped. And so, the way he kills his father is very peculiar (it was not he that directly killed his father but his consciousness that was transferred inside another man’s body) . He randomly wakes up in the middle of thick brush with his body sore. He goes into a nearby restroom and finds that on the front of his shirt there was something dark, shaped “like a huge butterfly with wings spread”. Kafka soon finds out that it’s blood.
This somewhat matches up with the image of Jungkook waking up in the BST Japanese version MV.
3) Also, in HYYH on stage: prologue, Namjoon is seen writing “you have to survive” in the condensation
The phrase “살아남아야 한다” can be suspected to replicate the Korean translation of what The Boy Named Crow (a metaphysical alter ego of Kafka) repeatedly tells Kafka throughout the novel: “넌 지금부터 이 세상에서 가장 터프한 열다섯 살 소년 되어야해. 무슨 일이 있어도 그렇게 하지 않으면 네가 이 세상에서 살아나갈 수 없으니까” -> “From now on- no matter what- you’ve got to be the world’s toughest fifteen year old. That’s the only way you’re going to survive”
With Namjoon’s own individual symbol (like how Hoseok is seen with pills or how Jin is seen with a polaroid camera) being this phrase, there’s actually a theory that his character is “The Boy Named Crow” of the story. With this phrase appearing in Jin’s short film, it’s as if Namjoon is telling him that you have to become strong throughout all these hardships in order to survive.
4) For both BTS and Kafka, the shore/the sea is a source of happiness, hope, and youth.
For Kafka Tamura, the only memory he had of being happy was from when he was a toddler, at the beach with his family. However, the memory is faint as with all childhood experiences, and so he is only able to recall it through the one picture he has of that moment
It’s much like how BTS finds their escape through the shoreline. There, they’re able to act like kids and enjoy their youth- though they know that they will have to face adulthood and maturation as soon as they leave. It’s like how Jin looks as the polaroid of him with the rest of the boys and says “one day we will smile together like we did in that photo”. It’s like how Miss. Saeki stares at the painting of “Kafka On The Shore” every night and finds hope to live.
5) For both Kafka and BTS, their fate is inescapable.
Though Kafka tries so hard to run away from his prophecy, he still ends up fulfilling it. However, by the end of the novel, he finds himself lifted from his burden and instead, apart of a “brand new world”. He is the toughest fifteen year old, he is an adult.
And though BTS may long to be forever young, they still find themselves falling into temptation and sin and thus maturation. However, by the end of the story, maybe they’ll find themselves as adults or maybe it would be just Jin WHO KNOWS?
But of course: all of this doesn’t mean that BTS’ story is directly following Kafka On The Shore’s plot but it’s just interesting to be wary of all the similarities and parallels :)