Kyogen-mawashi (狂言回し) is a key person who plays an important role in the plot of a drama or movie throughout the story. He can also be referred to as Kyogen-mawashi (狂言廻し).
It is a word born from the world of Kyogen. Currently, it is used widely in various fields of fiction.
It can be roughly interpreted as 'narrator' or 'storyteller,' but there are cases where the role may differ slightly from that of a narrator. A 'narrator' gives the impression that they would remain appearing on stage, but this is not always the case with kyogen-mawashi. There are cases where he or she would appear in key points that would move the story towards the climax and perform important roles.
Though a kyogen-mawashi is frequently not the protagonist, they sometimes leave a stronger impression since they perform an important role in scenes that are at the base of the story.
Examples of kyogen-mawashi
The Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto)
A womanizing aristocrat. Resulting from his love of women, his life is threatened by Rigoletto, but he escapes with the devil's luck.
Madame Giry (The Phantom of the Opera (1986 Musical))
A ballet instructor for the Opera. She takes an active part in various key points, such as creating the chance that leads to Christine gaining fame, and telling Raoul, Viscount de Chagny, of the true identity of the Phantom. In "The Phantom of the Opera" (2004 movie), she is depicted as the very person who brought the Phantom into Palais Garnier.
Captain (Tenpo 12 nen no Shakespeare (Japanese Shakespeare Musical))
A boss like figure of the peasants living in Shimofusa. He struts about freely in a world where all 37 works of William Shakespeare exist mixed up, and explains the background events and scenes of the story. He would sometimes stop time in the play with "the privilege of a narrator."
Tsutomu OSAKO (Heisei era Gamera series)
He has come across many monsters throughout the series, and usually accompanies the protagonists.
Beggar Woman (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
She tells Johanna's identity to Anthony and makes him feel sympathy (eventually love) for her, and she also notices Mrs. Lovett's ill intention right away and makes an outcry about it. In this way, she takes on an important role in advancing the story. And, she herself has a secret as well.
C-3PO and R2-D2 (Star Wars series)
They appear throughout the series and perform the role of kyogen-mawashi from time to time.
S.R. Hadden (Contact (Movie))
Supporter of Ellie, the protagonist. He appears from time to time in key points when the project is set back and leads the story to rapid development through his funding and decipherment of an encryption key.
Manga and anime
Koichi ZENIGATA (Lupin The Third)
An old enemy and rival of Lupin The Third (an imaginary character). He usually takes on the role of the one being beaten or teased, but on rare occasions, he surpasses even Lupin in action.
Nezumi-otoko (Rat-man) (GeGeGe-no-Kitaro (Comic of Japanese specters))
He is a self-appointed best friend of Kitaro. His interest in the bizarre being the cause, he is often the origin of trouble. Also, he would often pursue a wait-and-see policy in regards to specter matters, and he would worm himself into an enemy's favor as well as try to curry favor with Kitaro. He has a crafty, sly personality, and is often unclean. His bad breath and fart can cause fatal damage to those on the receiving end.
Locke The Superman
He is the protagonist, but he has a sense of detachment because he is an immortal superman, and he hardly ever appears in the limelight. Even so, he would almost always be at the turning points in the history of a space chronicle that is etched in units of a thousand years. Since he would often take on an important role behind the scene of history, he is considered to be a protagonist who takes on a kyogen-mawashi like role.
Hi no Tori (Phoenix) (Manga)
Its role is similar to that of Locke the Superman as described above.
Sohei TOGE (Adolf)
He calls himself a kyogen-mawashi at the start of the story. The story starts with his younger brother dying under questionable circumstances in Berlin, where the city is boiling with excitement over the Olympics. He himself gets caught up in the intrigue when "a letter," a key word in this story, falls into his hands.
He writes down in a book about the chain of incidents after the three Adolfs who are the protagonists of this story are all dead, and so this story unfolds as his recollection.
Char Aznable (Mobile Suit Gundam series)
He is Amuro Ray's predestined rival as well as a man who would exert great influence as a military man and politician in the One Year War, Grips War, and The Second Neo-Zeon War that would occur in the space millennium. Owing to his outstanding abilities and to the fact that he is a son of a principality of the Zeon military, a character in Mobile Suit Gundam, he has captured the hearts of many with his astonishing charisma.
Shintaro IMAIZUMI, a character in Ninzaburo FURUHATA (Ninzaburo FURUHATA)
He seems to be just a comic who moves about as a lackey to FURUHATA, but FURUHATA would often have a flash of inspiration to solve a case with IMAIZUMI's casual remarks being the key.
Boogiepop (Boogiepop series)
In this series, protagonists change in each book, and it is Boogiepop's role to appear just at the end and close the story.
A kyogen-mawashi type title role similar to 'Hi no Tori' and 'Locke The Superman.'
Miria & Isaac (BACCANO! series)
A couple who appear from the first book of the series and who have become immortal due to a certain incident in 1930.
(It was not until the year 2001 that they finally realized that fact)
In this series, each book depicts incidents that are independent of each other most of the time, but because the era and the background of the story is the same, the same characters reappear many times. Especially these two, from book 2 onwards, keep reappearing as key persons who would set the course of each story (though they are the ones most unaware of that fact).