As the summer season begins (and I wait for AOT season 3) I decided to give a new anime called Banana Fish a try. Banana Fish is adapted from a Japanese manga series of the same name, written and illustrated by Akimi Yoshida. Banana Fish will be a 24 episode series that began on July 5, 2018. The original was set in the 1980’s, but this adaption will be modernized. For example, the Vietnam war is replaced with the Iraq war.
Banana Fish was critically acclaimed, due to it’s plot, characters and action. The series has sold over 11 million copies. Banana Fish was originally meant to be a Shojo series, appealing largely to young teenage girls. However, it was marketed as a seinen series attracting a male and female fan-base. The series is considered to be part of the Yaoi (boy love) genre, with the title characters Ash Lynx, a “seventeen year-old leader of a street gang,” and Eiji Okumura a “Japanese photographer’s assistant,” being in some kind of “relationship.”
Carl Gustav Horn, an editor on the English language translation of Banana Fish, stated:
“There’s nothing wrong with manga that make eroticism and teasing their focus, but if you want to make character and narrative your focus, I think you have to show some self-discipline as a creator. If you do so, you may also achieve more profound effects than if you just went for the fan service and easy thrills. I think some Banana Fish fans would argue that Ash and Eiji’s relationship ends up being much more romantic because Yoshida places the emphasis on the struggles they face together, not the snuggles.” – Wikipedia
Any actual sexually contact is seemingly limited to “exclusively to acts of sexual violence and rape, though critics have commended the series’ depiction of rape as universally negative and traumatic, contrasting the common theme of rape fantasy in yaoi.”
Banana Fish tells the story of Ash Lynx, as he tries to take down crime boss Papa Dino, while deciphering the meaning of “Banana Fish.” The phrase, Banana Fish is uttered several times by different characters in the series. Eiji Okumura aids Ash in discovering the secret.
The series isn’t for children, featuring a lot of violence. For example the opening scene in episode one “A Perfect Day of Bananafish,” shows a solider massacre his fellow comrades as he’s in a daze. The animation of this series is top notch especially during the bar brawl. While I am unfamiliar with the manga’s art style, I liked the art presented in this series. The color pallet is vivid but not so much that the world feels unrealistic.
Banana Fish seems to have earned the hype. It’s not really my type of anime. However, it’s not FOR young men, it’s FOR young women and made by women. That’s not to say men won’t like it, but they may not. I will say that it is a high quality anime, the characters are likable, except Papa Dino (although he’s not suppose to be liked). I’m also rather intrigued by what Banana Fish means and think that many viewers would.