A Wild Sheep Chase begins in what seems to be an exceedingly boring fashion; the main character's life seems to be devoid of any joy or entertainment, and everything he does is extremely forced. As the story progresses, however, the only comparison that can be made is to Alice in Wonderland, for the story becomes so strange and surreal that it has only the barest of ties to the reality we know.
There are some very common elements of Japanese story telling; posession by spirits, a very heavy presense of an other world, characters known by certain characteristics of theirs, and a dominating, nearly obsessive goal that seems mundane or senseless outside of the story. It has a very humerous aspect to it, which is in no way deminished by the fact that the cultural difference makes everything extra surreal.
The characters are very typical tropes; the main character broken out of his duldrums by an obsessive quest, the strange friend who may or may not be totally real, and the nigh ethereal starred sheep. the main goal of the entire quest. Due to the difference in culture, and the overall strangeness of the tale, however, the characters never seem overly familiar or boring, they feel very fresh and alive. While the story's tone can be likened to Alice in Wonderland or something out of Dr. Suess, the plot itself reminds me more of a fantasy epic like Lord of the Rings, because of the overarching goal driving the characters.