Part I (you already know we’re summarizing)
“Super-Frog Saves Tokyo” by Haruki Murakami begins when Mr. Katagiri, a bank loan collector, walks into his small apartment and is confronted by a large anthropomorphic frog. While sharing a cup of tea, Frog describes in detail why he has come to Katagiri’s apartment; Worm, a creature that absorbs kinetic energy through the earth and turns it into pure rage, is going to cause a devastating earthquake beneath Tokyo at 8:30 AM on February 18, and Frog needs Katagiri’s courage to assist him in doing mortal combat with Worm.
Katagiri struggles to accept even the fact that there is a giant anthropomorphic Frog in his apartment that insists he call it ‘Frog’ and not ‘Mr. Frog.’ It is even more difficult to accept the fact that he is needed to save Tokyo. So, Frog promises he’ll get a group of mobsters to repay a loan that Katagiri wasn’t sure he’d be able to himself.
Frog gets the mobsters to repay the loan by the next morning, and convinces Katagiri that he’s real. He then tells Katagiri the bare bones of the plan (how they’ll get to Worm and when). However, the day before they intended to do battle, Katagiri is shot in the shoulder by a man on the street. He wakes up in a hospital forty minutes after Worm was supposed to cause an earthquake. After asking the nurse, Katagiri discovers there had been no earthquake, and he had not been shot at all.
Frog comes to Katagiri’s hospital bed, and tells him that he had defeated Worm. Frog thanks Katagiri for his help, and tells him that even while he was unconscious in the hospital, he helped Frog in his imagination. Then, Frog returns to the murk, and maggots and centipedes crawl out of his body and cover the hospital room. When they start burrowing into Katagiri, he screams, and the nurse returns, and Katagiri confesses that he was more fond of Frog than of any other.
Part II (you already know we’re talking about the craft elements)
The thing about this story that I find most interesting is Katagiri’s character. He’s a lonely man with v e r y little purpose in his life. He has no friends, no lovers, his parents are dead and his siblings don’t appreciate everything he did for them. It seems to me that Katagiri’s strongest desire, though he may not be aware of it, is to be appreciated or credited for something, anything, by anyone. He finds no fulfilment in his work because, while he is respected by other loan collectors, he is disliked and the rest of his coworkers have no respect for loan collecting. Even though he put his siblings through college and arranged marriages for them at his own expense, they show no kind of appreciation for him. All of this is why I think that Frog is an entity that Katagiri created to fulfill that part of himself that absolutely needs some kind of recognition. Even when Frog tells him that no one will know that they stopped worm, there is a plural first person involved. He will be a part of something, with another (I hesitate to say person) Frog.
That brings me to my second point, the fact that Frog is humanized, maybe even more than Katagiri. Not only does he reference classics like he has several masters degrees, he speaks with a much more casual and human tone than Katagiri. He even makes a balls joke. I mean, come on. It’s also important to note that he insists Katagiri calls him Frog instead of Mr. Frog, which is a very personal thing. Katgiri refuses to simply call him Frog until the last few pages of the story, lending a sort of emotional distance that, even though it’s not really unhuman, is lacking in human connection.
Part III (you already know we’re discussing discussion questions)
- What’s up with the whole “returning to the murk” bit? What is the purpose or meaning of the centipedes and maggots?
- Did Frog Exist? It’s obvious I think he didn’t, but I’m interested what y’all thought.
- What’s up with the whole “you were unconscious for no reason” thing?