The large majority of the stuff I've read (in Japanese) where there is narration has normally used first person. However in some cases (e.g. in the below) there are parts in works that are third person narrated where I am unsure of how understand it.

In the below the the non bolded part is clearly narrated by an 'omniscient narrator'. However, the next part is a bit more unclear for me.


Whilst I could be wrong, the bolded part reads more like it is being told by 誠 rather than by the previous narrator. So I guess my question is, is this actually being 'said' by 誠, or is the narrator from the previous part telling us 誠's thoughts and feelings?

1 Answer 1


First, please double-check the terminology. It appears to me that the non-bolded part is written in the third person's point of view, and the bolded part is in the first person's point of view. The narrator is a "third person". So this passage has a temporary shift from the third person's view to the first person's view.

Next, the bolded part is essentially "a quote without explicit quotation marks". This is common also in the English literature (known as free indirect speech or free direct speech). In English, you can distinguish free indirect speech and free direct speech just by seeing if the subject is "he" or "I". In other words, you can tell the "point of view" of the sentence by looking at the subject.

In Japanese, however, such a subject is normally omitted. In your case, the sentence says neither 彼は思う nor 俺は思う, so the borderline between direct and indirect is blurry. But when this technique is employed, the borderline is made blurry almost intentionally, so you should not worry about it too much. Either way, this sentence has the character's own voice inserted in the narrative part, which makes this sentence more dramatic.

For example, I think this can be translated into English in two ways:


  • But at the same time, I know that I wouldn't have been so attracted to her if it had been just her appearance. (free direct speech)
  • But at the same time, he knew that he wouldn't have been so attracted to her if it had been just her appearance. (free indirect speech)

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