Aomame is in a taxi, stuck in traffic. She makes the daring decision to walk off the expressway and down, using the emergency staircase, in order to make her appointment. Next we learn that her “meeting” was in fact an assassination of a man who had abused his wife. She kills him with a special needlelike tool, then goes to a hotel for anonymous sex with an older man.
Meanwhile, Komatsu, an editor, tries to convince his mentee, young writer Tengo, to rewrite a manuscript called Air Chrysalis, written by a mysterious high school girl named Fuka-Eri. Tengo agrees after meeting Fuka-Eri and receiving her blessing. He proceeds to rewrite the strange and compelling story of Air Chrysalis.
Aomame goes to an elegant home and meets Tamaru, a professional bodyguard and personal aide to a woman called the Dowager. In a greenhouse full of butterflies, we learn that the Dowager hires Aomame as an assassin and selects her victims, all abusive men. She also helps the women abused by those men. We later discover that Aomame met the Dowager through her work as a sports trainer for a Tokyo athletic club. The Dowager hired her personally for training and muscle-stretching work. This led to their relationship and joint project of removing violently abusive men from the world. Aomame reflects on a friend’s suicide, which was caused by her husband’s abuse. This is her reason for doing what she does.
Spurred by some confusing conversations and observations, notably a big change in police uniform and armament, Aomame goes to the library and asks for newspapers. There, she realizes that her memories do not match reality anymore. Some things are the same, but others are strangely changed. Aomame discovers that she is living in an alternate reality and that she must have entered it when she descended the emergency staircase from the expressway. She struggles to come to grips with this truth and names the world in which she finds herself “1Q84.”
Tengo meets Fuka-Eri at a train station. She wants to introduce him to someone important. They arrive in a small mountain village and meet Fuka-Eri’s guardian, a man who calls himself Professor. He reveals Fuka-Eri’s past as a child who grew up in a series of communes and escaped into his guardianship only recently. Fuka-Eri only told her story with help, as she is dyslexic. She seems to truly believe in the events of Air Chrysalis and the mysterious “Little People” mentioned in it.
During a night out, Aomame meets a policewoman named Ayumi. They become friends and have a wild sexual evening with two men. Aomame reflects on her childhood in a strict religious family, how it isolated her but also accustomed her to moderation and a simple lifestyle. She receives money from the Dowager but does not spend it, only puts it in a safe deposit box. Aomame and Ayumi’s friendship gradually deepens. Aomame reveals that she has only ever really loved one person, a boy who stood up for her in elementary school. We understand that this is Tengo. That evening, Aomame goes to the window and is shocked to see two moons in the sky.
Tengo finishes rewriting Air Chrysalis. Komatsu is impressed and calls the rewrite nearly perfect. All he suggests is that Tengo emphasize a fantasy element of the story, the two moons. Meanwhile, Tengo muses on his childhood, his separation from his father, and a mysterious erotic memory of his mother that keeps recurring. Air Chrysalis wins the new writers contest and becomes a bestseller. At that point, the mysterious religious commune known as Sakigake begins to get involved. A strange man, Ushikawa, threatens and bribes Tengo. Komatsu briefly disappears and later reveals that he had been kidnapped by Sakigake and forced to halt publication of Air Chrysalis.
Stories converge on the Sakigake commune. It is the place where Fuka-Eri lived, and the Professor suspects her parents are somehow held captive there. He hopes that the publication of her story will prompt the media to dig deeper into...
(The entire section is 1,792 words.)