むらさきのスカートの女 (Profoundly Weird Book Club)

Okay, here's a longer analysis on what I read now that it's morning (warning: rambling and LONG)

Purple Woman has presence. I spent half of the book wondering what made her stand out to people, but I now think it wasn’t her looks or her circumstances, and she didn’t even stand out in a negative way as I initially assumed. She’s just one of those people who get noticed wherever they go, just by existing. She’s a character.

Yellow Woman is invisible. As @negin very sharply observed, this is purple’s complementary colour. Yellow is one of those people who always get overlooked, always blend with the background. There was nothing special about her being invisible while stalking. She’s just the unassuming kind of person that no one ever thinks about, one of the crowd even when there’s no crowd. This was made hilariously clear when 所長 didn’t even notice her when she was the only other person in his hospital room. Yellow wishes her existence was known like the Purple Woman’s - she wishes she was someone rather than no one, a character rather than an observer.

A small paradox: When Yellow Woman actually got noticed in the past (in that konbini when she was so tired she was unsteady), she never returned out of embarrassment. She’s used to not being noticed, and is not comfortable in a visible role.

We notice Purple’s presence in the course of her work too. Almost immediately all her co-workers and superiors start to fuss over her in an unnatural way. Teaching her how to enunciate, how to take advantage of her position, giving her little snacks, inviting her to drinks, giving her rides so she avoids the bus full of gropers, forming a sexual relationship with her. All this looks like it’s stuff happening TO her rather than stuff she tries to make people do. She attracts attention just by existing.

Meanwhile Yellow has been in the hotel team longer, yet no one notices her, even though they know her. She gets overlooked so much that people start believing she doesn’t like fruit or drink alcohol, even though I’m convinced she never said any of those things. Her rare comments go unheard. Even people physically bumping into her fail to notice her (a slight exaggeration to drive home the point, I think). She’s probably never ever the focus of any office gossip, because she attracts no one’s interest.

Now here’s where it gets a little tricky. All the attention Purple receives changes her. Or maybe, it only changes people’s perception of her. Being the natural center of attention means you’re very visible even when people are looking for someone to blame. The popular new hire can quickly become the cause of all evils in people’s minds, especially as she turned from someone to take care of into someone who needed no one’s help, and was in fact doing well.

Characters tend to be two-dimensional. When people get noticed like Purple Woman, we usually notice only a few things about them, and they necessarily become caricatures of themselves. As Purple Woman changes due to her environment (finding a job, forming a relationship), she becomes unrecognizable in all those who know her only superficially (the shopkeepers first, the children second). Meanwhile, Yellow doesn’t seem to be recognized by either the shopkeepers or the kids, even though she interacts with both of those frequently (by shopping or by giving them goods to sell in the bazaar).

I’m trying to figure out how much agency Purple had in all this. It looks like she only did what she was told (even the drinking the guest’s coffee part and maybe even the becoming 所長’s lover part), like she only ever tried to fit in and do her job well. But then she gets blamed for everything she was taught to do, by exactly those who taught her, in spectacular hypocritical fashion, as is often the case. Well, the helping yourself from the supplies part at least, not the sleeping with the boss part. Although maybe there she also just went with the flow, and maybe thought she couldn’t very well say no. It’s unclear. Visible as she is, we really don’t know what she’s thinking.

Meanwhile, the true thief still goes unnoticed. Even her address is overlooked (only Purple Woman lives near that school, people say). She can steal and she can stalk unchallenged. But she still longs to be Purple Woman, or at least be friends with her.

For most of the book Purple Woman looked like she was in a weak position, and Yellow, as the stalker, in a stronger one. Several times when Purple was wrongly accused, I thought Yellow would step up. The moment she chooses though, is so much more dramatic (and hilarious). She has a plan, and is now ready to act, rather than just watch. She also has a relationship in her mind (she and Purple as one) that only exists in her mind. When Purple finally overcomes her surprise, she does the most natural thing - she takes full advantage of the situation for her own good instead of following the directions of a stranger. We could argue that this is the first time that Purple decides to not do what others expect of her, which sets her free, and lets her gain invisibility (although in real life, running away to a hotel a few stations away after a murder isn’t really a great strategy).

Was Yellow’s decisive (and misguided) action in a time of crisis the turning point for her? She’s now visible, at least in her neighbourhood (not in the hospital room). She fully takes Purple’s place as the main character. And then the book ends, right as she becomes the protagonist she always wanted to be. :joy:

Most hilarious moments for me

When the narrator confidently declares 所長 dead as if it’s something she does every day for a living, then goes on to detail her multi-page escape plan to the dumbfounded purple skirt woman.

When the 所長 jumps when he suddenly notices a whole real person who has been standing in his hospital room for the last half hour or so.

“I’m not 権藤チーフ, I’m Yellow Cardigan Woman!”

And best of all, when the narrator is asked what the purple skirt woman was wearing, and she has NO IDEA. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


Have you read the essays?
I found it very interesting how the author draws a lot of inspiration from her own life, like wanting someone who keeps her seat open for her when she experienced someone else taking her seat in her usual cafe. Additionally, she also was working as a cleaner, so there seems to be a lot about her in this novel (reminded A LOT about Sayaka Murata, who also worked in a Konbini).

My interpretation: Both books (this one and Konbini Ningen) seem to me about women who are trying to fit in and fulfill the role of a good (Japanese?) woman. They depict their struggle with it and it seems to me like they don’t naturally understand social cues and how all those invisible rules (especially at the workplace) function. For me both books tell this story in different ways, but that’s just my reading (and btw is not going against anything you (or anyone else in the thread, for that matter) said, I also agree with your interpretation and it was very interesting to read).

That’s what I really like about this book, that I can have my own reading and interpretation and have myself reflected through my interpretation.

That was so funny and so out of nowhere, got me good :laughing:


That was also the funniest part for me too. :laughing: I was thinking, this is the moment you decide to talk to her finally?!


Not yet, I think I will today.

Totally! It’s open to all sorts of interpretations and analyses, and one doesn’t negate the other at all.

There’s definitely some similarity in theme with コンビニ人間 in how they explore the role of women in a workplace and society, especially women who have a hard time understanding all the invisible rules in place and fitting in. And there’s lots of humour in both :slight_smile:


Oooh I’ll be looking forward to hearing if the essays changed anything in your interpretation. For me, they did add some additional context that changed my view a bit. :smiley:


Finished the whole book, essays and all.

The essays were very fun at first, even though I don’t normally enjoy essays that much. I find the author very likeable and relatable. They did get a little repetitive after a while. I suppose they just weren’t meant to be read back to back.

Not really, no. Although I found the first one (with the exclusive seat) very funny.

I’m very much looking forward to reading more by this author.

Meanwhile, here are the covers of translations next to the original:

image image image image image image image

I’m fascinated by covers and how they choose to portray a whole book in one image, and the differences in different editions/langauges are always interesting. I feel like many of the above covers sort of miss the point of the book.


Dang; English publishers need to step it up.


I am surprised that there is no German translation (yet). :frowning_with_open_mouth:

The Japanese one remains my favorite cover! :blush:


Here is the edition I read next to the Japanese one :smiley:


Unneccessary commentary written up while reading through the thread

Probably someone already picked up on this, but just in case: The narrator is saying that it’s a shame that she herself isn’t known to others, unlike the purple skirt lady. This sentence is about our narrator.

It seems a lot of people were confused whether the narrator worked - but wasn’t the whole premise that the narrator was trying to get the WITPS to join their workplace? And she circled an ad for a job that was so understaffed they’d take anyone - that’s inside information.

I think she works and occasionally sells stuff at the bazaar. :thinking: :joy:

Love this analysis!

I (also) read this book because I’m sick and couldn’t concentrate on other stuff. This book with its idle narration was perfect for my fuzzy brain. :joy:

I loved how all the little cues as to our narrator’s identity came together one by one.

I’m not feeling up to a detailed analysis, but I really enjoyed the narration. I still haven’t read the essays~


I thought a little more about the story in these two weeks after I finished the book. Still can’t say I’m confident I have understood the message and nuances completely. But here is what I think:

Why Yellow observes Purple?
In the beginning of the story Yellow says that purple reminds her of somebody, then she goes on to name a few of people she had connections with and we learn that Yellow is extremely alone, she doesn’t even know where her sister is. My interpretation is that Yellow’s obsession with Purple is simply her desire to have a meaningful relationship with some one. When she compares Purple with people she knows it’s not like there’s a strong resemblance, Purple could be anyone else.

What kind of person is Yellow?
We see she is so alone and not in a very good financial situation. Later we also learn that she is being completely ignored by others, unless there is sth formal or a necessity: she has to pay for the meat display or is caught for not having a permission to hand out shampoo samples. Outside these situations she is almost invisible.

What kind of person is Purple?
Despite her vulnerable image in the beginning she is a good student, she learns the rules of her environment fast. She doesn’t necessarily likes what she does ( as Yellow once observed she is just pretending to have fun with her coworkers and in fact there’s sadness in her eyes while she is laughing.) but she can act or go with the flow, if it is to her advantage. She doesn’t usually look for opportunities herself (not colliding with people like a figure skater) but when she is lucky, she won’t lose that chance.

There are some invisible rules in society, unless you follow those rules and take the forms and wear the masks society desires, you will be ignored. having a relationship with others just for the sake of a connection (making friend) in such society is really hard for adults.

Totally interesting. I guess the way Yellow observes Purple shows how she knows she would be observed by others if she wasn’t “invisible”. An example is how she reasons Purple is not young: dry hair and spots. Yellow is conscious of appearance standards and norms. Every time she goes into details when describing other people’s behavior or looks could be a sign of Yellow being self conscious (another clue is when she doesn’t return to that supermarket)

I tried to keep it short, sorry it got a bit long :sweat_smile:


I finished the book last night - I’m completely lost track of what section I was in so just read until the finish.

I found the ending incredibly creepy. It was more effective than most horror books I’ve read in Japanese :joy: All the same, I like Yellow, and I feel bad for her, living in this fantasy world. I liked how when cracks appeared in this fantasy (by Purple running off on her) they seemed to be near instantly papered over, ready for a new one to take the stage. I can see her repeating this cycle with a new person. Maybe the new one will also wear Purple skirts. Maybe there have already been multiple Purple Skirt Women :exploding_head:
This is a fun thought teaser

I won’t be reading the essays, I usually don’t enjoy them.

oh! and I wrote a review on Natively. Was a bit surprised it didn’t have any yet!


I was about to write a review, then realized it is a particularly hard book to describe, especially if I want to avoid colouring it with my own interpretation. Im still mulling it over :sweat_smile:

I find this often to be the case with Japanese non-horror books. Maybe I’ll start reading horror when I want something cozy :eyes: