Banana Fish Episode 1 Review: A Perfect Day for Bananafish

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.” 

Plot

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.

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FLCL Progressive Episode 5 Review: Fool on the Planet

The animated creativity of this episode was stunning. Fool on the Planet feature several different animation styles throughout the episode. It begins with what seems like a charcoal watercolor like painting. Then it moves to a sketch style that makes the episode feel unfinished. Finally, the episode transitions to a manga style, black and white with panels. The shifts between the various styles happen sometime between frames as well as scenes.

Ide “fights” Haruko in a abandoned pool, she dominates him, mocking his lack of strength. Ide’s relationship with Haruko is odd, it appears to be sexual on some level but never really progresses pass innuendo. Regardless, after she defeat him, she straddles him telling him that he “knows nothing.” Ide responds in kind telling her that “you don’t satisfy me!” This pisses Haruko off, meanwhile, Hidomi races to the roof and becomes jealous.

She weirdly absorbs Ide in a fit of rage, leaving behind a weird black human shaped rubber type thing. We learn that Hidomi’s mother is closing the cafe, seemingly abandoning any hope that her father will return. It appears that Haruko is working with “the Department of Interstellar Immigration,” and the weird amusement park is finally implemented. Draining the N.O. energy from the students to power a robot. They attack a “Medical Mechanica factory.”

Meanwhile, the rubber suit floats up into space where it’s sucked into a giant satellite and feed to a Canti-like dog by an elderly woman. This is similar to what occurred in the last episode of FLCL, the terminal dog ended up becoming a world destroying machine. Hidomi’s attacks Haruko in her new cyborg form. She chastises Haruko for being “just a girl in love.” Before Haruko can respond the sky turns red signalling the return of Atomsk. While, I enjoyed the animation change, I found it so distracting that I had to re-watch the episode to remember what happened. Which is bad enough considering that this whole series will require re-watching. Anyway, I’m curious what the final episode will bring.

FLCL Progressive Episode 4 Review: Loopqr

After the last episode, Hidomi has a complete personality change. She becomes rather manic, unlike the previous episodes this one doesn’t start with a dream sequence. Hidomi’s headphone are now drilled into her head, releasing this personality. The animation style seems to adapt to this new dynamic in Hidomi’s personality. Ide and the others attempt to figure out how to remove the headphone’s to return her to normal.

Aiko’s “emotional support plant” from the previous episode turns out to be a N.O. device, created from Canti’s robot shell. Marco falls for the “new” Hidomi, but this feels like an aside that will be quickly ignored. Anyway, Marco is tasked with trying out a new theme part ride. At this park is also Aiko, selling a bear statue to a customer. It turns out that this bear along with the plant are both made of parts of Canti. They apparently reverse the “N.O. field that transports beings through people’s heads.”

Meanwhile, Jinyu and Hidomi alliance from last episode ends. While inside a Medical Mechanica factory, Jinyu attempts to get Haruko to join her and give up her attempt to chase the pirate King Atmosk’s. However, Haruko decides that she rather “devour” Jinyu instead. They begin to battle destroying the transmitter in Hidomi’s head, both Jinyu and Haruko burst out of her head. In a series of flashbacks we see that Haruko did get the pirate kings power, causing her to split into Jinyu. The action sequence at the end of this episode is worth watching. Haruko eventually “kills” Jinyu by turning into a monster and eating her.

FLCL Progressive Episode 3 Review: Stone Skipping

We are once again treated to a surreal dream from Hidomi. I’ll admit I have no idea what it meant, but It seemed to have something to do with Hidomi’s sexual awakening. I don’t know how I failed to notice this, but many anime seem to have an obligatory beach episode. Haruko and Jinyu accompany the students on a beach trip. Beach episode tend to be an excuse for excessive fan-service. We meet Aiko, Mori’s shy girlfriend and her emotional support plant.

Then everyone begins to play various beach games, the first part of this episode is dull too be honest. We do get a vague answer from Jinyu as to what she wants. She says that “they are searching for an amazing person they once knew.” Oh, it turns out that Aiko is kinda a “prostitute,” or a she puts it a “rent a date.” Anyway, at night Ide goes looking for Hidomi and finds Haruko stripping her down. Ide confronts her and a robot springs from his head.

Meanwhile, the “support plant” ends up being more important than we realize as Aiko’s roommate is seen telling a mysterious older man that he lost it. Ide and Haruko face-off, during this confrontation Hidomi transforms when she comes into contact with Ide. Using a newly acquired guitar from Jinyu, Ide cracks the cocoon like encasing that Hidomi’s was in. Haruko tells Ide to “take of Hidomi’s headphones,” he tries but they drill themselves into her skull. According to Jinyu the “the emergency system has been activated,” to what we don’t know. However, the episode does end with some concert, both Jinyu and Haruko are after “Medical Mechanica.”

FLCL Progressive Episode 2 Review: Freebie Honey

Episode 2 opens with another dream from Hidomi. She faces off against zombie versions of her classmates, while being one herself. It doesn’t end well for her as she is dismembered. The visual styling of this scene is worth the violent imagery if you’re put off by such things. What these dreams mean is still unclear.

Haruko appear to not have been fired for pretending to be another person, and Hidomi’s classmates seem to under her control. She hands them her yearbook, as they flip through looking at it content of Haruko playing baseball, but Hidomi merely sees drawings of the evens in what looks like crayon.

She is given a mission from Haruko to deliver a worksheet to Ide. We learn more about Ide, he’s working at a terrible job where he’s regularly abused by patrons and his boss. He’s literally being wiped by his boss as he, along with his co workers a trying to pull a car. He’s then beaten by a customer who punches him. Hidomi witnessing this begins to an emotion reaction and passes out.

As Ide takes care of Hidomi, Haruko interrupts them. Jinyu arrives as well and she faces off against Haruko. During their battle, Jinyu states several times that Haruko will not “you know you’re not going to reach him like this.” Hidomi finally transforms in a massive explosion, when the dust dissipates Hidomi has transformed into a junky little droid. However, Hidomi merely touches Haruko and knocks her away in an explosion. Hidomi attempts to punch Haruko again, but misses and manages to hit herself, returning Hidomi to her original form.

FLCL remains a confusing show, this episode doesn’t answer many pending questions. Who is Jinyu referring to when she says “you know you’re not going to reach him like this”? Is Hidomi falling in love with Ide? Hidomi’s transformation is weird and I’m not sure I like it or love it, but it’s unexpected. However, unexpected is what FLCL is about.

FLCL Progressive Episode 1: RE: Start

Atomos eye

FLCL is a nonsensical anime that is either terrible or genius, I can’t tell and I don’t care. The very first scene depicts our protagonist walking in a pale dream like world as her hands fall off. Then she bumps into a large monster or creature and upon seeing it’s eye open, she transforms into a robot. FLCL is a series that requires multiple watches, your guaranteed to miss a lot and misunderstand even more. After our title character, Hidomi Hibajira wakes up to her phone alarm the first thing I notice was the music playing in her dream was also the same that played when her alarm went off. Does it matter? Is it connected? Maybe.

Ide plotting his dates

Another thing I noticed is that her mother come across as younger that she is. Hidomi barely seems to care too interact with her classmates and give monotone response to their hello’s. We are introduced to another character is introduced, Ide. He comes across as a bit of a “ladies man,” but I doubt it. Hidomi’s teacher is . . . well . . . odd. She asks the class to “repeat after me,” then tells them to “sit down,” even though they all sat down when she walked in the room. She begins to speak at a rapid monotone pace asking the “youth,” “what is the most important thing in the world.” She even calls them the “weakest links in our society,” and when one student answer “I don’t know,” she responds “correct.”

Hidomi awakes

I had no idea what to make of this teacher, but kinda wish I had a teacher like her. However, then this teacher shows the students porn. Why? I guess we’ll find out. Of course at the end of the episode she turns out to be Haruko in disguise. We’re introduced to another character, Jinyu. She’s another odd character that wields a guitar. She runs Hidomi over with her car and then apologize to her mother for “not” killing her. Jinyu also reveals that Hidomi’s headphones aren’t actually playing music or anything else. Apparently she uses it to avoid conversation. She finally leaves as she warns Hidomi of “the girl on the vestba.”

Jinyu hits Hidomi with her car

Later that night Hidomi is attacked by a robot. The robot then throws up Ide. He tries to protect her but is knocked unconscious, Hidomi has flashes of her “dream,” and begins to release her powers as Haruko watches on. However, Jinyu saves them leaving Hidomi alone with her new red horn. This episode captures the very essence of the original FLCL, some might not like that but I find that there’s enough difference to make this sequel stand on it’s own. I didn’t get into Ide’s funny friends or Hidomi’s weird mother. This series never really makes sense at least not completely and weirdly enough that’s why I like it. FLCL maintains the visual style of the previous series, with bright colors. The animation is as fluid and wild as ever.

Robo Hidomi

 

Megalo Box Episode 3 Review: Gear is dead.

 

With only 3 months to qualify for the Megalonia tournament, will Joe make it? Nanbu sheepishly heads into the official Megalonia headquarters to register Joe. He succeeds in this registering Joe, who’s ranked 257th among the fighters. Fujimaki reminds Joe and Nanbu of the stakes if they fail to win (death). Joe’s gear begins to get a upgrade. Nanbu tells Joe that in 3 months Joe will need to win 5 matches.

Getting integrated Gear is expensive, so Nanbu and Joe head to a seedy part of town to buy some gear. We encounter some street kids who steal some camera for “red candy” narcotics. The owner says that the “kids gladly eat the candy, the shop owner commenting that they’re happy to be distracted from their miserable existence.” Still they’re stiffed, as the owner of the shop only gives them 3 candies instead of 4. The head boy Sachio, gets into a altercation with the owner and smashes a globe on his arm drawing blood. He pulls a knife on him but Joe steps in. He quickly deescalates the situation and he and Nanbu leave.

While training in a old boxing ring, Sachio insists that the upgraded gear will not work. He and Nanbu agree that his assessment is correct but they have no choice. Sachio asks to go with Nanbu and Joe, but he’s dismissed as being useless. To prove that he’s not however, he steals the prototype from the seedy owner and gets caught. Sachio is getting beaten up by Potemkin, Joe drives a motorcycle through the front window and Potemkin face. The new gear proves useless, but Joe plans on fighting him without it.

Megalo Box continues to be impressive. In this episode the world is expanded on and we’re introduced to more characters. We get a more detail look at the seedy slums of the Megalo Box universe. Nanbu’s character is expanded on, we get to see him with other promoters and sponsors. He comes across as more of a opportunists in the earlier episodes but turns out that he actually is a good mechanic and trainer. Hopefully, this series will expand on other characters in this series.

One Piece Chapter 906 Review – The Holy Land Mary Geoise

This chapter begins at the “top of the World,” or the top of the “red Line” to be exact. The “Holy Land Mary Geoise,” is a sight to behold, grand in size and design. However, true to One Piece all isn’t as it seems. We are introduced to moving ground called the “travelator,” it is quickly revealed that beneath its surface it’s powered by slaves. Oda immediately kills our wonderment showing the reader that the man made forest and moving ground that amaze the privilege comes at the cost of the downtrodden.

As the Ryugu Royal Family enters into the Mariegeoise Pangea Palace, Charloss, the spoiled, nose picking World Noble whom Luffy punched into unconscious, takes note of Shirahoshi. It wouldn’t surprise me if he created an international incident by trying to kidnap her. Inside we get to see the luxury of the royals. While bodyguards are permitted, weapons aren’t. Several fathers approach  Shirahoshi with their unattractive sons, she accidentally insults them.

Meanwhile, Vivi and Carue meet Rebecca and Leo. They talk about their love of Luffy, we also are given a recap of who some of these characters are. The recaps are short and probably needed, but I was reminded how long the One Piece series has been releasing chapters (over 20 years). We also are reminded how much the Strawhat’s have done to liberate kingdoms around the world. One thing I did notice was the similarities between how Rebecca, Shirahoshi, Vivi and Nami look. I love Oda’s art, but clearly he has a creative blind spot, because they all look the same.

We are reintroduced to Sai, King Cobra, Dalton and Dr. Kureha. Finally, we see Doflamingo in Impel Down Level 6. He believes that he will be assassinated for what he know about the “secret treasure found in Geoise. A mysterious shadowy figure enters a seemingly cold room that features a large Straw hat. One Piece continues to amaze me, even a chapter with no action had me on the edge of my seat.

Megalo Box Episode 2: Junk Dog vs Yuri

Junk Dog faces off against Yuri, he’s clear outmatched and Yuri decides to give him a handicap, he won’t use his right hand. Junk Dog says that “he hopes that he doesn’t regret it.” Yuri continues to dominate him, but Junk Dog attempts to adjust and his hit from the an angle from the top, knocking Junk Dog to the ground and his mouth guard out. Junk Dog gets back up, claiming that he’s “having too much fun.”

 

Junk Dog challenges Yuri to fight with both his arms and Yuri agrees to show him “real Megalo Boxing.” JD charges in but Yuri see’s an opening and quickly knocks him out. Yuri leaves as the crowd chants his name, Junk Dog tells him he’s “not done yet.” Yuri tells him that if he wants to fight him again it has to be in “his” ring. Junk Dog’s battle with Yuri doubled JD’s audience and double their’s fees.

Junk Dog wants to go to fight in the Megalo box, however, he doesn’t have a citizen ID. Furthermore, only the top four fighters can fight and it’s unlikely that Junk Dog can get to the top four in three months. While in the ring JD, KO’s his opponent in the first round causing trouble for Mr. Nanbu. He’s taken to Mr. Fujimaki and begs for another chance and more time to pay him back.

Mr. Fujimaki agrees, handing Mr. Nanbu a knife to take out his other eye. Mr. Nanbu counters by telling Mr. Fujimaki that JD is going to enter and win the Megalo Box tournament. Junk Dog is given the identity of someone that Mr. Fujimaki appears to have killed, Junk Dog give himself a new name Joe. Another good episode, the name Joe not only seems to be homage to Ashita no Joe and also one of the themes about class.

JD seems to be inspired to name himself Joe after a billboard that reads, “It’s a wonderful District life. Not your average Joe.” Finally, the theme of around “dog” seem to be more obvious in the episode. JD is often compared to a “stray” dog and Yuri feels like he’s a more pampered domesticated dog, obedient to Yukiko. It will be interesting to see how JD will manage to defeat a lot of boxers in only 3 months.

My Hero Academia: Episode 3, The villains emerge

Class B wakes up early to find out that Class A has already been up training. Class B hopes to become the class that shine next semester. They will all be developing their quirks. Similar to muscles fibers, quirks become stronger after continuous use. Class B watches as Class A is in the process of their intense training. We see that Katsuki Bakugo, is ” plunging both hands into boiling water to expand his sweat glands and creating explosions repeatedly to increase the scale of his attacks.”

Shoto Todoroki is “alternating between ice and fire to make the temperature of the bathwater uniform.” The purpose of this training is to get his body “use to freezing,” and have him develop more control over his flames temperature. Hanta Sero by producing “tape continuously” his training will potentially increase his ability to “improve tape strength and shooting speed.” All the other members of Class A are effectively using their quirks over and over again to increase the qualities of their quirks. All of this may occur naturally, but due to villains they need to speed up the process.

We are finally introduced to the “full version,” of the Wild Wild Pussycats. The to new teammates we are introduced to, Ragdoll, whose search quirk “can know all the info about up to 100 people by just looking at them, and can find their location and weaknesses.” Tiger’s quirk is called Pliabody, he can “stretch and flatten his own body in an almost inhumane way.” He suggests that his job is to ” assault through punching and kicking” whatever that means. He trains the “power-up types,” like Izuku. He tell him to hit him with what he’s got and Izuku uses his “5% Detroit Smash only for Tiger to easily counter it.

Later, Dabi and the other villains finally arrive and begin the assault on the students. The numbers are stacked against them considering that there are only 10 villains, compared to the 40 plus heroes. Regardless, the willingness to kill might be the difference. This episode was largely setting up the next episode, which is likely to be epic.