Banana Fish Episode 007 Review: The Rich Boy

The boys head to California, we are quickly introduced to Max’s family. He has a son named Micheal and a soon to be ex-wife, Jessica. She pulls a shotgun on him fearing that Max is trying to kidnap their son. She sees Shunichi and stops. She offers Ash and Eiji a modeling deal, but Max suggest that “She’ll make you open your legs and show your butt hole.” She chastises him for his hypocrisy, considering he did the same thing “making a living out of taking shots of girls cooches.” I turns out that it was the birthday of Micheal, Max leaves him with a baseball mitt.

Jessica is an interesting and dynamic character, she doesn’t put up with the bullshit even from Ash. I hope to see more of her in this series. They finally head to Dawson’s mansion, Ash is quickly on alert. The maid tells them that “master,” is being kidnapped, when Ash arrives in the backyard they three men shoot at him. They miss every shot, Ash shoots the guns out of their hands. Ash inability to trust anyone leads him to be suspicious of Yau-Si, as he tells Shorter, “he’s too quiet.”

Ash hacks into a computer and learns more about, Banana Fish. I’m surprised that Ash is such a computer expert considering that he’s never been depicted as being good a tech. It’s likely a result of the modernization of the series. Furthermore, Ash is too well versed in Chemistry. How does he know what “Inert Alkaloids,” are? Meanwhile, Shorter learns about Yau-Si Dawson, but is quickly betrayed to Lee Hua-Lung, the brother of Lee Wang-Lung.

Max tries to understand what they discovered. He concludes that the military is probably involved. Ash of course decides that he’s going to see this through regardless. Shorter is ordered by Lee to spy on Ash. He’s told that Yut Lung will be “giving him orders from now on.” Understandably, Shorter is distressed by this, he realizes that Yau-Si is Yut Lang. Ash has a conversation with Eiji in which he tells him to “go back to Japan.” Basically, that he’s a large liability. Eiji ask for time to think it over. Yut Lang takes notice of Ash and Eiji’s relationship, he orders Shorter to kidnap him.

He needs to capture Ash alive and plans to use Eiji as bait. Shorter pulls a knife on him but Yut uses his sister against him. Shorter seems devastated that the Lee Clan is as he puts it ” the same as the Golzine gang.” He begins to cry which surprises Yut. The racial dynamics in this show is difficult for me to decipher. I’m not Asian so I don’t know if the reverence for powerful families like the Lee’s are common or if its specific to Shorter’s family. Also, I’m not sure that the racial politics are current or is it adapted directly from the manga series. The one issue I have with this series is that modernizing parts of it has lead to confusion. Finally, Max’s family is in danger. I’m hoping that Jessica doesn’t become a typical damsel in distress. Another, great episode though.

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Banana Fish Episode 5 Review: Death to Morning

The last episode of Banana Fish set up the mystery of “Banana Fish.” Ash gets out of jail on bail, he is warned that “if he flees or commits a crime,” his bail will be withdrawn. Of course Ash goes after Dino Golzine to get revenge for his brothers death. Ash leaves with Ibe, Eiji and Charlie, but Ash tries to abandon them to get his revenge on his own. However, Eiji takes control over the car and flees with Ash.

Meanwhile, when Dino is informed that he may be in danger, Dino is unafraid. He does however state that “Banana Fish is no human. It’s the name of a drug. That will change the world.” He wouldn’t elaborate further. Ash joins with Shorter to plan their hit on Papa Dino. They plan on attacking Dino’s restaurant “Club Cod,” he makes a monthly visit to the seafood restaurant. Club Cod is a front for a child sex trafficking ring.

All the anime I consume, I rarely run into one that focuses on realistic horrors of the real world. Banana Fish takes on sexually assault, gang violence, prison, war and unfortunately child sex trafficking rings. I say unfortunate not because I don’t think that it should appear in this series or any other one, but because it’s a sad reality. Regardless, these kids are kidnapped, drugged and then killed years later.

Ash and the others engage their plan, featuring a trunk. Ash rides on the top of the truck and somehow manages not to fall off and stand straight while shooting at Dino. He is shot in the arm by Arthur’s crew, while hitting Dino in the arm as well. The hit fails and Ash and the others are joined by Max and Ibe. The are out numbered and flee by jumping into the river.

Banana Fish continues to be a series that touches on heavy topics, while having complex characters. With all the mysterious threads and the large number of characters we finally get clear goals for the main protagonists, find out what Banana Fish is and kill Dino Golzine. They head to Cape Cod next, childhood home of Ash.

 

Banana Fish Episode 4 Review

I’ve been slacking on my blogging about Banana Fish, which is a habit I’ve haven’t broken yet. Anyway, this episode, This Side of Paradise, Eiji is in danger at the hands of Arthur and his gang. They threaten to kill the doctor’s assistant if he doesn’t reveal what Ash said to him. He begrudgingly tells him, hoping to save the assistants life. He tells them that Ash told him to retrieve the Banana Fish drug from the doctor’s office. Arthur goes back one his word and still plans on killing the doctor and his assistant.

They are not killed as Shorter arrives and holds a gun to Arthur’s head. However, Griffin is not so fortunate, he’s shot and killed. In Prison, Max requests a change in bunk mates, leaving Ash vulnerable. However, Ash is able to hold his own. When Max learns of Griffins death he rushes to inform Ash. When he does hear the news he seems to go numb. When Max warns him not to escape he hits him in the stomach and threatens to kill him next time.

Max and Ash fight to exhaustion. Max remembers his time with Griffin during war. Ash finally breaks down as he remembers his brother raising him. The emotional moment at the of this episode was powerful. The reaction to Griffin’s death from all the characters felt very realistic. Everyone didn’t respond in the same way, I though it was well done. We learn more about Banana Fish and its effects. I really enjoyed the simple animation that accompanied the explanation that Dr. Meredith gave regarding Banana Fish effects on rats. Banana Fish continues to impress, as we get closer to finding out what mystery surrounding Banana Fish is.

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.