After watching the first six episodes of Banana Fish, it has proven its self to be one of my favorite animes this year.
The plot is arguably the best part about this anime. The fast-paced actions scenes coupled with the well thought out actions of the characters (albeit gruesome) create an absolutely thrilling experience.
The contrasting natures of the two main characters are enthralling. Ash being the stubborn and intelligent gang leader with a dark history, and Eiji a timider character just starting to regain his lost courage. In addition to this, I would like to point out the effort that has gone into
the intriguing backgrounds of the MC's.
The art fits well with the story and does a fantastic job of properly portraying the characters.
Admittedly, I'm one of those people who just skip the beginning, so I'll leave up to you to form your own opinion about this.
Although I typically watch animes more on the line of The Irregular at Magic Highschool and was very reluctant to watch Banana Fish. Looking back, it was a move I don't regret taking. Whether you are like me, obsessed with the idea of magic, a thrill-seeking horror devotee, or simply someone watching for enjoyment. Banana fish will prove to be one of your favorite animes this season.
At the age of 8, after his notorious debut role in the critically acclaimed cult show, Boku no Pico, Ash "Pico" Callenreese ran away from his home in Cape Cod to escape social pressures and was taken into the custody of Papa Dino (or simply, Papa), the leader of the Corsican Mafia, to become its future leader. Turns out Ash does not wish this to happen, but Papa like really wants, so naturally we now have a series about 2 gay mafiosos running after each others because neither of them wants to change their opinion. One could even go as far as declare they aren't
thinking very straight.
I read Banana Fish manga 7 years ago and didn't like it very much. After seeing the anime getting produced by MAPPA (which I adore), I assumed/hoped the anime adaptation could do better job dealing with the drama, action and even character design - which were all pretty problematic with its shojo art style and female target audience which seemed to be quite limited to fujoshi pandering. I am saying this as a guy who has read over 400 shojo manga, and in generally appreciates works aimed for the demographic. The anime is already better, but it didn't fix its characters or story.
My biggest problem are the characters - who, on the other hand, are driving the narrative - which means the story is also problematic because the characters are. For some reason, whenever there is a criminal warlord -- who has removed themselves from the shackles of modern society, created their very own world and hierarchy similar to the one they escaped themselves -- the same person wants to push their own shit and agenda onto others. "Don't do like I do, do like I say." Papa is not manly man nor a bro dude. He is an asshole with terribad double standards, who thinks he knows better what others should do. I rarely appreciate control freaks and narratives that are driven by some baddie acting like a freaking plot element. But that's exactly how Banana Fish works. Ash and Eiji - AKA the runaway gay couple - are not much better. Ash acts like a brat, and Eiji is more obviously gay than any other character.
The writing mainly reminds me of a show 2 cours back called Citrus. Series where every character was a lesbo and the lesbian was shoveled down the viewers throat. Banana Fish is practically the male version of that show. Everyone is gay, looks gay or at least talks about gay people. Ash calls one dude a faggot for watching homo porn... where Ash himself is the porn star. Good comedy, I guess. Every time we meet a new character who knows Dino, he casually mentions "btw, that dude is gay." If there ever is a character who doesn't announce they either enjoy shotas, manly buttholes, or are in a gay relationship, you can safely assume that they are at least checking 2 of the 3 mentioned because apparently, executing a show about gay people is best done in a manner similar to ecchi series which promote being hetero with boob fondling, pantsu shots and nose bleeding.
The actual events are a collection of cliches from kidnapping incidents to mexican standoffs. And of course, every Ash's "assassination" plan fails because none of the million people who attack him brought any guns. Baseball bats and random pipes are just that more efficient in a fight where the opposing party uses a fucking magnum. But don't worry! It's all just part of the bigger plan. Whenever anything happens, you know it is just an excuse for the story to go in the direction the author prefers. This is beyond visible and obvious in the series. Oh, and how are the kidnap incidents overcome, you ask? Simply by one of the characters announcing how one of the kidnappers is gay, followed by Ash trolling them with his cuteboy butt, and voila! the day has been saved once again.
The worst part of the production itself is that these are the production values to this anime, when they could be the values to something that is good. Go watch Gungrave, 91 Days (pronounced 91 Gays), Rainbow Nisha, Gangsta, Speed Grapher, Kekkai Sensen, or even Dogs instead. Come back to this one only if none of those pleased the manly mobster love in you, and even then, be prepared for some extra nonsense.
If there’s one thing that’s enticing about the Noitamina network, it’s their way of broadcasting shows to a variety of audiences. Banana Fish seems like one of those shows that isn’t aimed at a wider audience but it definitely has its own appeal. Taking place in a crime-noir setting, the series deals with teenage gangs in a corrupted city. It’s a time period of recreation and Banana Fish sets a firm example of an old school crime drama resurrected to modern life.
Now I have to admit, I’m not too familiar with Akimi Yoshida’s work or her style of writing. The only other series I’ve read
by her is a manga called “Yasha”. It has no relation to this series but the artwork is distinctive with her work. Not to mention, her series evokes a sense of mystery that’s present in Banana Fish. Yet, just what exactly is Banana Fish?
To be clear, the original manga was published from 1985 to 1994. This adaptation serves as a celebration of her 40th anniversary. It’s also somewhat unusual that Noitamina adapted this into 24 episodes rather than their usual 11/22 format. Regardless, Banana Fish strikes to me as a refreshing experience. First impressions are important and this show accomplishes that with the aesthetic story setting. It shows New York in a crime driven state and conflicts dealing with mature content. It's also interesting to note that the series has a more modern feel compared to the 1980s. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
A main appealing factor that drew me into the show is the character relationship and development. We meet Ash Lynx, a snarky young man who ran away from home. Despite his not-so-friendly attitude, Ash has charisma that makes him a person not to be underestimated. He also possesses a variety of skills that puts him on the wrong sides of the law. Being incredibly daring and never afraid to take risks, Ash stands by example as a daredevil. It’s almost if he anticipates his death at any moment and isn’t afraid to risk it for what he believes in. This puts him on the opposite side of Eiji Okumura, a photographer’s assistant and college student. Unlike Ash, Eiji is a kind young man but often easily manipulated or gets caught into complicated circumstances. The story goes to show his character relationship with Ash. Now I’m just going to throw it out there but there’s heavy implication of BL context between the two. While not being too explicit, it’s shown that Eiji develops a growing love towards Ash. On the other hand, Ash shows his own devotion with action that speaks louder than words. Ash’s acts of self-sacrifice becomes a central part of their relationship as he takes on many risks to save his life. The story often involves with Ash’s enemies exploiting his weakness and that would be Eiji.
Still, the million dollar question remains. What exactly is Banana Fish? To be clear, the title itself isn’t necessarily just about what Banana Fish really is. Rather, it’s a pivotal component of the plot that has Ash investigate into. In essence, Banana Fish delivers a sensation of mystery and suspense. The main premise focuses on how Ash’s fight against the mafia in this rebellious age. Crime lords like Dino Glozine is the stereotypical antagonist you’ll quickly love to hate. I don’t mean that in the sense of him being a distasteful human being. Rather, Ash has a personal agenda to settle with him considering their dark history together. The series isn’t shy to deliver mature context in the form of drug deals, criminal activities, sex slavery, or gang wars. If you’re here to stay for the show, then be ready suck it up and indulge on these controversial topics. In the meantime, we also meet allies that Ash meets in his quest of vengeance. Characters such as Ibe, Max, Griffin, Alexis, and Jessica join to fight the good fight. In many cases, their roles all are important for the overall mission. On the other hand, their most prominent adversary is Corsican Mafia consisting of Dino and his crew. Deep down, this anime crafts these antagonists with intentions to destroy Ash’s life. It becomes a crime thriller that often tests the limits of the main characters and how much longer they can last. Later in the show, we also meet other dangerous groups such as the Chinese mafia. Among their members includes the cunning Yut-Lung Lee who wants Ash’s head on a plate.
At its core, Banana Fish shows that in their society, crime is more than just a social problem. In our society, criminal activities are not tolerated and punishable. In the world of Banana Fish, characters believe they are above the law. Some even believe they are the law. Let’s take a closer look at Ash for instance. Having being raised by Dino, it’s clear that he has a dark past that’s explored more and more as each episode progresses. While I don’t consider Ash to be a villain, there’s no doubt that he has committed questionable acts. As this show takes place during a period of gang warfare, Ash stands out as more of an antihero to me than a protagonist. And of course, the man who raised him wants nothing more than to destroy Ash. I think in many cases, Dino wants to destroy Ash’s soul rather than just his life. It’s a fate perhaps worse than death and just one of the few examples of how cruel characters can really be. Indeed, Banana Fish contains mature content that isn’t suited for a younger audience. Going back to what I said before, Noitamina’s audience expands beyond than just a general audience and Banana Fish is an example of that.
Adapting a manga from over two decades ago isn’t an easy task. Manga being resurrected again after all this year tends to lose steam but I can say with supreme confidence that Banana Fish hits the marks. It manages to recreate a sensation of the 1980s while the anime takes place in a more modern setting. Rather than going with any flashy style of presentation, it commits to bring the manga’s characters up to date. Characters such as Ash and Eiji are designed to look exactly how their personalities are meant to be. Gang wars and violence are showcased without holding back with the intense bloodshed. There’s also some daring scenes of man service present that may be nerve wrecking or pleasing to watch. As I mentioned before, there are cases of gay moments although it’s not distracting to the point of losing its main focus. Watch this series and you’ll see that it’s more than just a homosexual relationship between two men. In addition, I have to give some well-earned praise to the voice acting in the show. These characters are older than your typical high school students and crime lords like Dino isn’t easy to portray. Yet, they all looked pretty damn believable in such a time period.
Banana Fish is a show with a peculiar title that could probably be quoted often. It’s Akimi Yoshida’s most well-known work and MAPPA manages to produce such a series with commitment. Director Hiroko Utsumi worked on Free! in the past so it’s no surprise that you’ll see some man service along the way. But really, Banana Fish isn’t just about a gay romance story between two guys. It celebrates the chance to showcase a crime story in a setting of corruption, revenge, and politics. Now it’s your chance to experience that story.
[Updated after episode 9] Since starting to watch this show I've quickly learned why Banana Fish's manga is one of the most well recieved and impactful manga of all time in Japan; Banana Fish's animated adaptation is rapidly shaping up to become one of my all time favourite anime.
Essentially the plot is that Ash Lynx, a 17 year old gang leader and abuse survivor, is caught up in the fallout over a thing or entity named "Banana Fish", linked to his brother Griffin and the war in Iraq. Ash's boss and abuser Dino wants the drug back. Meanwhile 19 year old Eiji from
Japan arrives as a photojournalist covering New York's gangs, but gets caught up in the conflict.
The plot, while certainly reliant on genre tropes, makes for an excellent thriller. There's never a dull moment in any of the episodes, aided by a smart and fast adaptation of the manga. Not an episode goes by without a few major developments and plot twist or three. Intelligently, the series doesn't focus *too* much on the mystery of what "Banana Fish" is, with plenty of other plot developments going on aswell. Don't worry though, there are fairly quick answers as to the truth about "Banana Fish", and it's turning out to be more interesting for the plot than you think seem at first.
While not grimdark, Banana Fish isn't a happy series - there's mentions and (non-explicit) depictions of eg child abuse, violence, and sexual assault, though it's balanced out by some typically shojo sweet or funny moments. The subject is approached with respect and isn't sensationalised or sexualised for the viewer. Rape and child abuse is depicted as an being about an abuse of power rather than sex, and is always told from the point of the view of the victim traumatised by what they went through. The show also discusses topics such as victim-blaming and disbelief of people's experiences, especially from sources of authority including government and the police - issues that continue to be as relevant today as the 1980s when the manga was written.
While the plot is intriguing, BF's key strength is in its' characters and the emotional impact the plot's twist and turns have on both them and we as the viewers. The cast is interesting and fresh all round, with almost every character being very likeable (or hateable for the villains) and memorable. The characters and their struggles are the beating core of this series. Honestly, I've rarely felt as emotionally invested in an anime; Banana Fish succeeds in getting you to care deeply about the characters before putting them into horrific situations - contributing to the strong emotional impact of the recent episodes.
Ash is becoming one of my favourite anime characters ever. He's overcame great adversity, but doesn't treat himself as a victim. He's sassy and confident in getting back at his numerous attempted rapists and abusers, and always resourceful in taking down his enemies. You''ll root for him as he sets out to take revenge on the men - especially Dino - who've ruined his life. No only that, but he's actually really smart and well read which goes against stereotypes for this kind of character.
Eiji is pretty much the polar opposite to Ash, being naive about and unaccustomed to the world of the mafia. He seems shy though lovable at first, but in ep 2 and 3 we see that he's a lot braver than we thought. He's already really committed to helping out Ash. Honestly you'll grow to love him pretty quickly, he's likely to be the most relatable character for most viewers.
Shorter has swiftly become a fan favourite, winning from many the accolade of best boy. He's a good counterpart and friend to both Ash and Eiji, being a fun character to watch but also quick to come to the rescue of the protags when they need it. He definitely comes across much better than the manga, with his updated design - now keeping that mohawk - and more expressive animations.
Yut Lung is introduced a bit later so I don't go into as much detail about him, but he's an interesting mirror image to Ash, and a strong presence on screen helped by his VA Fukuyama Jun.
BF succeeds in making you really hate its villains. Dino is a mafia boss and a dirty old man - but there seems to be something deeper below the surface in his relationship with Ash. One of his underlings, Arthur,
Banana Fish is famous for being one of the formative works in the BL genre and has a good number of LGBT fans. If anyone is misled by the "Yaoi" tags this series has on some sites, there is nothing sexual in the relationship, it is purely platonic. That doesn't make it less valid though. Many viewers will appreciate the depiction of an close non-sexual platonic relationship between two men.
At the moment its only a third of the way through the show's runtime, but I'm assured by manga readers Ash and Eiji's relationship is going to get much deeper and more emotional as things go on. But already, the groundwork for their relationship has been set, and the anime is notably putting more emphasis on their relationship than the manga did up to this point.
BF is a very solid outing from studio MAPPA, aided by the visual storytelling skill of Free!'s season 1 and 2 director. The designs have been updated a bit for animation but are still recognisably 80s, a nice change of pace from the usual modern art style. Ash doesn't look as good as his manga counterpart, but Eiji, Shorter and other characters look better or about the same as they did in the manga. The animation does good work in depicting the characters, their expressions, body language and movements, etc., as well as the show's frenetic action scenes.
What I especially love is the use of different colour palates and background art. It really adds to the world and tone BF is aiming for and makes for a lot of visually interesting scenes. The anime is really building on the manga's artwork in many places which is great to see. There's so much personality and care put into the character's expressions and body language which brings the show's cast ti life.
Overall BF is a pleasant treat for the eyes, and the visuals complement the emotional goals of the show very well.
Voice acting is excellent. Especially love Ash's VA, he fits the role very well, but everyone is in good form here. In particular the voice acting carries the more emotional and stressful parts of the story (like the most recent episode) brilliantly.
OP and ED are excellent. The OP is one of the best of the year so far. The OST is also one of the best in recent anime, a lot of these tracks would be good to listen to on their own. The OST really fits the tone of each scene and adds a lot on top of the animation and voicework.
Banana Fish is flying under the radar at this point, but it doesn't deserve to. It's an easy frontrunner for AOTY so far, and I wholeheartedly recommend it if what you've read pique your interest.
“He very definitely told your father there's a chance – a very great chance, he said – that Seymour may completely lose control of himself.” – J.D. Salinger.
A soldier’s life is one of hardships. Seen as the pride of a nation, they are tasked with defending the honour of their motherland with both flesh and blood. A life that requires chivalry, discipline and steadfastness. Their existence serves as a beacon light to the tame and cowardly; a source of inspiration for the youth to grow strong. But underneath all the glory and medallions reveal a darker tale more telling of their lives.
Ordinary people before donning a uniform and sent off to war, a life of violence and suffering entails them. A hellish nightmare seeming to never end makes it near impossible to return to their former self. One must be physically and mentally tough to ever hope to survive such a turbulent time, but not everyone is capable of carrying that weight.
J.D. Salinger was one writer who certainly understood the pressures put upon people in severe circumstances such as war, through first-hand experience being drafted into the US army in 1942, even being hospitalized by ‘combat stress reaction’ months after Germany was defeated in World War II. He was clearly affected, going so far as stating “[he] found it impossible to fit into a society that ignored the truth that he now knew.” These events all informed his writing of the short story titled “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”. While numerous interpretations of the story do exist, the common belief is that it symbolizes those soldiers sent off to war and came back traumatized; gorged by the anguish brought on from war and stained of bloodshed. Decades later this short story would be loosely referenced to in the successful shoujo manga series Banana Fish, written and illustrated by Akimi Yoshida that would later be considered highly influential to the BL subgenre. And now over 20 years since the manga’s initial release, Banana Fish received an anime adaptation produced courtesy by Studio MAPPA to run for 24 episodes in the latter half of 2018.
Banana Fish focuses on the relationship between Ash Lynx, a cold ruthless teenage gang leader in New York City, and a naïve assistant photographer from Japan in Eiji Okumura. Both men, despite appearing as polar opposites in personality and upbringing end up being caught in a fallout over an entity known as “Banana Fish”, that also happens to be related to Ash’s brother and what occurred on his stint in Iraq. The pursuit of this mystery further pulls Eiji to the centre of this conflict, thereby leading to Ash pushing against the wishes of his bosses and gang members who put the safety of his newfound friend in jeopardy. It would be easy to summarize the story as simply a developing romance between two men, but the series is more concerned in making the story and overarching weight of it at the forefront of the tale, causing the narrative, despite being heavily reliant on genre tropes, to work effectively as a fast-paced charming thriller. The series uses heavy topics regarding drugs, sexual abuse, corruption and other mature themes to craft a careful drama that avoids sensationalizing the sheer brutality inherent with such subject matter. Likewise, these ideas further accentuate the thematic correlation between Salinger’s “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and this loosely inspired adaptation.
No other character is as carefully crafted nor developed to the same degree as the main protagonist Ash Lynx. His backstory alone would be enough to garner the sympathy of many: a boy who ran away from home at 8 years old only to be taken into custody by the head of the Mafia. Having been kidnapped as a sex slave numerous times later before being granted leadership of a street gang years later, he has seen his fair share of violence and trauma. Part of his likability derives from him never seeing himself as a victim and therefore is able to overcome adversity. However, his meeting of Eiji is what ultimately acts as the cause for Ash to slowly reveal himself emotionally and properly recover from trauma accumulated throughout the years. His character easily parallels that of Salinger’s protagonist, as someone who has been exposed to so much that the idea of recovering from it all is improbable. Both of these characters take a liking to their more innocent counterparts, seeing in them what they once had but now have lost for reasons that were outside of their control. Clinging to that one person in the hope to keep them sane, and in the case of Banana Fish, no matter how the world might see Ash, Eiji will remain by his side. But similarly to Salinger’s short tale, it may not be enough to help Ash change to a more civil lifestyle.
Despite the original manga being set in the 1980’s, Studio MAPPA decided to move the setting to a more modern time and as such caused various changes to the anime that deviate from the original source. Some of the most obvious examples include using character designs typical of the current animation standards rather that the original’s well-defined character models, and the implementation of technology such as smartphones used by the majority of the cast. These changes, whilst they may come off slightly off-putting are fairly harmless in the grand scheme of things. Although when it comes to contemporizing the story and its themes, there are numerous issues that arise. For example, by revising the setting to present day, many of the topics covered can be considered outdated and requires a certain suspension of disbelief not to lose any immersion the viewer has with the world established. This take also renders most of the social commentary the original story had as nearly obsolete, which was one of the aspects that made the manga so important for its time. It’s something that most viewers probably wouldn’t have a problem with, as it still remains a piece of fiction that can be enjoyed without social context. But for those that want to look at this show deeper that the ordinary fan, it’s an issue that can easily cause disappointment amongst certain anime fans.
Another key issue that I personally had throughout watching was how many elements regarding the plot and characters slowly become narrowed as the series continues. Allow me to elaborate; the beginning of this show was really appealing, not only on a visual level with how vibrant the settings were and the distinct designs on display, but with how many different moving parts there were to the plotline. From the main characters, to the supporting gang members, to the various villains, to everyone else involved, each of these groups felt like their own intricate parts to the storyline and had the potential to create something truly special. But as the plot continues, it becomes apparent that the storyline is only meant to focus on the relationship between Ash and Eiji. This is not necessarily a bad thing – Banana Fish revolves around this in particular. But I can’t help but feel disappointed when a show with so many moving parts to begin with are funnelled out to prioritize all the screen time on the core plotline. Especially if comparing the anime to the manga, which gave more balanced attention to the large cast of characters intertwined. The villains all had varying degrees of depth but none of which I would honestly call complex, most characters not associated with a gang are shafted halfway through the anime and the gang members that are fleshed out are always given time and focus corresponding to their relationship with Ash. This is not a severe knock against the show, but I can’t help it when I see a series like Banana Fish have so much potential and not seriously capitalize upon it.
The visuals for Banana Fish are a solid outing for Studio MAPPA. While I have my personal preference for character designs, the animation present here is energetic in how it depicts character movements and expressions, as well as providing the audience with some very exciting action scenes. The dynamic colour palette and background art are both visually appealing that while some might consider it detrimental to the tone of the show, I believe do better to initially attract anime fans to the series in general, acting as a pleasant treat for the eyes at first glance. The framing of the most controversial events that took place in Banana Fish was also commendable in giving the series a good sense of artistry.
The audio for Banana Fish is also praiseworthy with strong performances for voice acting overall, really capturing the essence of each main character. The soundtrack also fits most scenes well despite none particularly standing out, except for the OP and ED tracks which is just simply fun to listen to. No matter what your music taste, these tracks are pretty accessible and make for fun openers to each episode. The translations however could definitely act as a detriment to the series as a whole depending on your take of the sensitive topics covered in Banana Fish. Personally I found it funny when Ash calls a separate character a “fag” in the translation considering what the series is about, but some could easily take such as a homophobic slur and the anime as a whole as tone-deaf. Just be careful what you’re getting yourself into, k? :)
Looking back on Banana Fish, I see a series with a lot of upside to it. A carefully handled crime drama, innovative for its time, critically acclaimed source material, etc. And despite having my own criticisms against the series I would still recommend this to anyone interested in the series at all. Despite creative liberties it is at its core a well-made drama with emotionally powerful moments that are likely to entrance you in a tale barely brought to light by anime. There may be homoerotic undertones present, but the series was not made solely for such. Instead it clearly values a strong appreciation for storytelling, for that is how people from all different backgrounds are able to relate to what is told here at a fundamental level.
Since its publication in a shoujo magazine in the 1980s, Banana Fish has received several labels such as boys’ love (BL), shounen-ai, and yaoi due to popular misconceptions. Not only are these terms incorrectly applied to the work, but they also do not cut at the meat of what Banana Fish is. And even its original shoujo demographic tag deeply misrepresents the content of this anime.
These are the terms at the core of Banana Fish. Though at the same time, the crime and gangster backdrop is not all the story is about and confining it within those
boundaries massively undersells the broad scope of topics this anime covers. Because while Banana Fish's pragmatic and deplorable world is filled to the brim with death and sexual violence, the tale it tells of its main character, Ash Lynx, is a visceral story about life and love. And just as deliberate as its juxtaposition of death with life and lust with love, Banana Fish is a carefully woven story about dichotomies. Its two halves, like the darkness and light reflected in its two main protagonists, Ash and Eiji, permeate this character drama in numerous ways to paint a grounded tale about both the ugly and beautiful aspects that make us human.
With little exposition to back it up, Banana Fish sets up intrigue from the outset and primarily uses its early episodes to build character back stories, motivations, and tension until its first major climax. From there, the copious amount of setup spent on its foundation gets grounded and becomes meaningful. Although Banana Fish has an overarching narrative, its story can be broken down into multiple arcs. The narrative shifts seamlessly from arc to arc; however, the tone between them can vary drastically. These tone shifts combined with Banana Fish's brisk pacing, does cause sudden mood swings, that at times lead to whiplash. But overall, its purposeful tonal dissonance is used to great effect to accentuate the light and dark themes that imbue its story. Its pacing allows eventful occurrences to happen every episode but sometimes hurts the show in its calmer hours. And unfortunately, the anime rushes a few episodes in the second cour to accommodate the daunting task of adapting nineteen volumes of manga into twenty-four episodes of anime. While in its other weaker moments, Banana Fish can suffer from clumsy plot developments, become somewhat fantastical, and get repetitive with both innocuous and annoying elements, overall, the story rarely ceases to entertain and because it is comprised of many moving parts, it often takes unpredictable turns that keep its audience on their toes. Though because a large amount of finer details were cut, viewers are required to pay close attention and often read between the lines, which at times, can lead to the discovery of surprise character nuance.
While Banana Fish's story can be described as its weakest element, its characters are its strongest. Despite having a rather large cast of relevant main and supporting characters, Banana Fish adeptly characterizes the important ones in a short amount of time and consistently develops them throughout the narrative. As a result, characters as well as their interactions are both dynamic and engaging. At the center of this ever-evolving maelstrom of personalities is the two protagonists, Ash and Eiji. No other character in Banana Fish is as carefully realized or developed as Ash, who teeters between his hardened persona and vulnerable self seamlessly, but the complex, multi-faceted relationship Ash and Eiji share come close. Their relationship, while not the focus of the story, is just as important as the plot. It never becomes physical because of Ash's past, but the emotional connection between the two cannot be understated as it develops both protagonists and organically becomes the emotional foundation in which the narrative is founded upon. However, unfortunately, due to the limited episode count, several side characters are stripped of their more nuanced character traits that can be found in their manga counterparts. And even Eiji was regrettably simplified in the anime. Antagonists of varying degrees of depth and competence will come and go. All are twisted in their own way, most will be hated, and some are more than they seem. While Banana Fish is not one to have overly complex antagonists, mainly because writing sympathetic rapists and pedophiles goes against the themes of the piece, they all serve the narrative purpose that they were written for even if it is not entirely clear from the outset. However, Yut-Lung and Blanca deserve special mentions for not only being complicated and interesting, but for also highlighting Banana Fish's themes by serving as impressive foils. Each character has been made to life by talented voice actors, but most notably, Uchida Yuuma, the voice for Ash, has given a powerful performance with resounding care and heart put forth in conveying all of Ash's complexities.
Consistent with other series produced by studio MAPPA, the animation and art quality are spectacular for the first several episodes before eventually becoming a series of ups and downs. The latter half of the show and the action-oriented episodes in particular have suffered as the anime progressed. For this sole reason, it is recommended to watch the Blu-Ray release, which has already been confirmed to have touchups. Despite its dips in animation and art, Banana Fish's cinematography remains very strong throughout its entire run. Storyboarding is consistently dynamic, and when applicable, framing is done with a certain message in mind. The music composed by Shinichi Osawa, also known by his stage name, Mondo Grosso, while not necessarily memorable, is distinct, stylish, and fitting.
As an adaptation, the anime does a commendable job in keeping the manga's spirit in spite of its brutally short episode count. MAPPA makes predominantly solid decisions on the material to cut and while the anime loses some of its plot cohesiveness as a result, prioritizing the character moments was the correct call. And in general, the manga is a highly recommended alternative for those interested in the gritty details that the anime had no choice but to leave behind. However, despite the strengths of this production, not all of MAPPA's adaptational choices enhance the experience. Most notably, the decision to update the original manga's 1980s setting to modern day in the anime has been baffling. Character designs have been modernized and smartphones have been given to the majority of the cast but the world continues to exude an anachronistic 80s vibe. While this may seem to be a harmless cosmetic overhaul, contemporizing Banana Fish means covering dated topics. This becomes most apparent when the anime delves into political maneuvers that would be more plausible in the Cold War environment that the original manga was written in. And because Banana Fish is a product of its time, the anime, though not always through the fault of MAPPA as Amazon has also mistranslated generic insults into homophobic slurs, contains elements that can be considered tone-deaf in today's sociopolitical climate. If anything, this adaptation should be treated as if the setting was still in the 1980s as the moderization Banana Fish's world received are largely superficial and even leads to plot inconsistencies.
With the vast majority of anime released nowadays abiding by successful formulas and character stereotypes, Banana Fish stands out as one of the rare few that is unafraid to take risks. Its brashness in that regard will inevitably land itself many criticisms but hidden beneath its rough exterior is a gem worth digging for. It touches upon heavy subjects without sensationalizing or sugarcoating their brutality and its grounded approach makes it a unique work that is more reminiscent of old Western action films and television than that of anime. It shows us the truly wretched sides of humanity but also reminds us of the hope and love individuals all possess while expertly invoking an array of emotions. From start to finish, it is a hauntingly real depiction of the very essence of being human. And despite the flaws in its story and adaptation, it leaves much to ruminate about. It is a deceptively simple story that can become complex in the themes it explores and the topics it leaves its viewers to ponder. Even the series' namesake, derived from the short story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" by J.D. Salinger, and references to other American literature in the form of episode titles or overt mentions offer food for thought. Banana Fish is far from perfect, but at its core, it is an unforgettable rollercoaster of relentless action and raw emotion. The manga broke genre barriers over thirty-years ago and while the anime regrettably does not retain all the qualities that made the manga as groundbreaking as it was, it does deliver its own one of a kind experience with much of the same heart. There really is no other anime like Banana Fish. And it is one no one should miss.*
*Disclaimer: but only if you can stomach the long list of heavy content this show has
Invert the two and what do you have……..a fat dick. **badum-CHING**
Summer is the time of year for promiscuous young-adults to experiment with their sexual desires, in a hassle free relationship that requires no commitments from either party. But why limit one’s exposure to the opposite sex, when there are plenty of “gay-fish” — I mean, banana fish — for the taking. Why else would a Shoujo anime feature two young queens in New York? For a “crime” investigation? Now that’s rich.
Speaking of wealth, the main character in the
show, Ash Lynx, was groomed to inherit a vast amount of opulence and power through the successive process of becoming Dino’s heir. Be that as it may, the early steps of “graduating” to his “destined” role were mired with egregious abuses of standing law and personal freedom. Not one to remain docile and allow circumstances to be determined by the judgement of others, Ash seized the initiative in an attempt to ameliorate the atrocities of his past. This manifested into a plot to assassinate Dino via — and I kid you not! — standing on top of a moving truck in a public arena, while shooting a pistol.
Not one to put all his pumpkins in one basket, Ash used his adroit computer skills to plunder $90 million from Golzine and severely handicap his financial clout as a Mafia Don. This blow to the ruthless Kingpin allowed Ash to claim an important victory and set the stage for the ensuing battle to come. That being said, however, Ash’s ability to steal Golzine’s money and manipulate his company’s stock price seemed too straightforward. If Ash had that sort of capability, why not use that skill to make himself fabulously wealthy (say, like, a billionaire) and use his newfound fortune to assemble a crime syndicate that would dwarf that of Golzine’s? Furthermore, why did Ash risk his life with ridiculous, poor planned stunts when his intellectual prowess could easily circumvent Golzine’s physical brutality?
To underscore this point, allow me to present the following:
1) Ash has an IQ of 180; placing him in an echelon of exceptionally gifted individuals (rarified air, if you will).
2) Ash understands military-level tactics at a proficient level, commanding his gang to coordinate attacks against their various foes.
3) His various senses are finely tuned and his anticipation of danger is second to none (well, maybe Batman has him beat).
Yet, instead of making use of these various skills to sidestep hazardous situations, Ash willingly embraced instability via having a knife fight in a subway station against his gang rival, Arthur. In the midst of their battle, predictably, Ash get’s ambushed by Arthur’s gang — proving how poorly planned Ash’s plans truly were — and is forced go John Wick on their candy asses (highly unrealistic, by the way), before his final Mortal Combat-esque showdown.
Look. Ash has far too many advanced abilities for his own good and they become contradictory at times. Most protagonists who are portrayed as elite fighters have a weakness in the planning/thinking department and vice versa; however, Ash literally can/will do anything. Even the greatest QB of all time, Tom Brady, can’t run faster than a six year-old girl to save his life (butt-hurt Patriot fans incoming). Counterbalancing greatness with a deficiency elsewhere is a great way to explore a character’s resolve, through their willingness, or unwillingness to ameliorate their weaknesses. Match Ash’s flawlessness with his attractive appearance, and you have a character that is simply too good to be true.
Eiji be like, “he’s a sweet candy bar in the bedroom, especially when he wears his nurse outfit.”
“Yes. I can confirm this.” — Golzine
“Me too.” — Shorter
“Hershey chocolate is so delicious, sweet caaaaaaannnndddy bar.” — Arthur, Max, Su Rin, Yut-Lung and about half of New York City (everyone except for the LAY-DEES!)
This brings up another concern with the story, that being that everyone and their father are homosexual, or have homosexual tendencies. I have no qualms about an individual’s personal choice, but is it conceivable to think that every man Ash runs “into” has the hots for him? Seems rather absurd, when only ~4.5% of the population identify as being gay.
Due to the plethora of melancholic moments throughout the series, it was quite evident that the conclusion of said events would not be a happy one. Deducing the exact ending was nigh impossible (unless you read the manga), but anyone who presumed that Ash and Eiji would both survive their ordeal was ignoring the foreboding atmosphere established in the prior episodes. This insight on “where” events would lead, sort of ruined a level of anticipation for the viewer, but not enough so to be a significant hindrance.
The review thus far has been scathing, but there are redeeming qualities that make Banana Fish worth watching. While the characters within the show are not layered or terribly complex, they do come off as being “real,” particularly with the omission of classic anime tropes. Their actions mirror that of “normal” people, making the flagrant abuses seen or talked about feel extremely impactful. It’s hard not to become attached to Ash’s cause of exacting revenge on Golzine, especially considering that his brother became entangled in the B1 (i.e. Banana Fish drug) “experiment.” Banana Fish, to its credit, pulls at the viewer’s heart strings — perhaps, too frequently — to establish an atmosphere not unlike our world. It damn near forces the audience to empathize with the plight of Ash Lynx and cheer him on as he dismantles the mob empire that robbed him of his innocence. Is it rudimentary in its approach? Yes, as indicated in the earlier parts of this review; nevertheless, Banana Fish provides exhilarating action sequences (even if they don’t make sense within the context of Ash’s projected character), moments of shock and awe, and some rather interesting character interactions.
With that said, Golzine’s character felt pedestrian, exhibiting features that were not distinct enough to differentiate him from your standard mob boss. The biggest takeaway anyone could discern from his screen time, is that he is a closet homosexual and he is infatuated with making Ash his sex slave. In essence, he merely serves as a mark for Ash to conquer in his quest to liberate himself from the crime syndicate. Marlon Brando’s, Vito Corleone, is an excellent example of how one could/should construct a terrifying human being who instructs his “business associates” to leave a horse head in a director’s bead, but also lives by a set of principles and accumulates wealth for the sake of his family. People, even the so called “evil” ones, will always have redeeming qualities that contrast the malicious activities they deem necessary to accomplish their goals. Rarely does anyone consider their own actions to be immoral, giving a writing staff an opportunity to flesh out these “justifications” and determine why these particular people think in ways that abnegate the norms of a typical society. Deep, complex characters with diametric views always make for interesting conversations, forcing the audience to introspect and reconsider their own viewpoints about topics that have no clear answer. Banana Fish, unfortunately, fails to entertain these narrative motifs.
Much like its namesake, Banana Fish is a mixture of good and bad. How so?…
Bananas are high in potassium and other useful nutrients; Bananas contain high amounts of carbohydrates.
Fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which lessens one’s risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke; Fish can have high amounts of mercury, leading to brain defects.
Banana Fish is an exhilarating ride with a large cast of diverse characters; Banana Fish presents an unrealistic protagonist who takes unnecessary risks to take down an underdeveloped antagonist in Golzine.
5/10….meh, make it 6/10 (tis the season, after all)
The anime is depressing, and quite stale, to be honest, The first episode I enjoyed initially, but the rest were... very strange. Fucking EVERY CHARACTER is gay.
Honestly, I am a fujoshi, but if every character is gay, and just wants to rape Ash, I'm obviously going to have problems. I don't get people who rate a show very high, because at a certain point they cried or something but this wasn't very enjoyable. Almost all characters are gay, and except Ash none of them are explored, at all. They are interesting but meh at the same time. I've read the manga, it faces almost the
same problems. Overall, I don't recommend this very much, but who knows, might be interesting for you.
Let me start off by saying this: if you've written this off as ~ohh sexy yaoi for the fujoshis~ before even watching an episode, you're not only gross but missing out on a great anime. Does Banana Fish has scenes with two men sleeping together? Yes, but they are all without consent (except one, I think, maybe two depending on your idea of "consent") and the fact some male anime fans are writing this off as some sexy story for us fangirls is really demeaning to the struggles of Ash, the main character. Banana Fish does heavily hint at a romantic relationship between the two
leads but it's not in your face.
Story - 8/10
Banana Fish does something most anime do not - they show sensitive topics like rape without fetishizing it or making a joke out of it. BF touches on almost every sensitive topic you can think of: murder, rape, drugs but almost all of it is treated as what it is: bad. The rape scenes are never explicitly shown or used as sudden shock factor. And remember, the manga came out in the 80s when this stuff wasn't even talked about as much nevertheless with such care and respect.
Now as for the actual story, it can get a bit convoluted for sure, especially at the end, but it's never bad. It's definitely detailed though and pretty interesting, especially once everything gets moving at a faster pace around the middle of the story.
Art - 9/10
I absolutely adore the animation and character designs. That's all I can say; I think it looks great and smooth and fits the story really well.
Sound - 9/10
I usually end up skipping openings after a few episodes, but BF has been an exception to this cause it's a really nice song that gets you pumped and sounds like something I'd listen to from some of my favorite American bands. As for the actual soundtrack, I don't pay much attention to that - sorry.
Character - 9/10
BF is known for its amazing characters. Ash is a kid who went through hell and is just trying to survive. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty but time and time again shows he isn't some monster. Eiji starts out as a pretty spineless character but grows to stand by Ash's side as his friend (and maybe more). Then we get a lot of side characters who might be involved but in some shady things but prove they're human too: Shorter, Sing, Cain - two of which will be introduced later. They all stick by Ash's side and end up being really likable and interesting characters.
And the bad guys? Completely despicable. They're not villains in a magical settling who use magic to take everything over or anything over the top like that - they are realistic terrible people doing things that happen in our real world and that's what's so scary.
Enjoyment - 10/10
Speaks for itself.
Overall - 9/10
A lot of people are going to be turned off from BF cause of pretentious dude anime fans who think anything with any gay themes is just for fujoshis and should be skipped over but that's not the case. BF is an amazing story of friendship and tragedy and deserves to be given a fair shot.
The summer 18 anime season was very problematic as it was the season that was dominated by anime that contained 12/13 episodes and many of the anime unfortunately fell flat in the face either because there were either bad throwaway shows or they ended up getting crippled by the 12th/13th episode count where some of the show they had enough content of to make a 24/26 episode but set studio poor decisions making these show only ended up having the episode count that they ultimately got. This doesn't say that the summer 18 anime was a complete failure as it did give a couple of
great shows that I liked such as Chio's School Road, Revenue Starlight, Planet With and High Score Girl.
After looking at the countless 12/13 episode animes that summer 18 season had to offer in the charts I saw two anime that had 24 episodes and these anime were Banana Fish and Mr Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues aka the Kaiji spinoff. I observed skipped the Kaiji spinoff from the time of this review because I have only seen a first 4 episodes of Kaiji and I wanted to watch the whole series first before going into this. So that leaves me with Banana Fish done by Studio Mappa.
Despite me having a negative opinion of Mappa thanks to them making a bunch of shows (Not counting Yuri on Ice) that barely don't much substance to them aka Rage Of Bahamut Virgin Soul and Days I decided to give Banana Fish a shot just to see if they learned from the past mistakes that caused me to dislike them as a studio. Well after watching all 24 episodes of Banana Fish I can say yes Mappa has kinda learned a lesson from the past mistakes but at the same time I feel Mappa at times is still playing that style over substance card.
The story follows Ash Lynch a 17-year-old man has been adopted off the streets by the head of the New York mob papa Dino as a sex toy. However, after he comes across a man left for dead in an alley, he has added a necklace with a bullet attached to it which contains a secret white powder.
Ash now has the ability to fight back against pana Dino and to possibly free himself from his grasps and this is all because what is in that bullet. While this was happening a journalist named Shunichi who come to document the gangs in New York City. He brings a cameraman assistant named Eiji to help him take pictures however he ends up getting caught in the confit between Dino and Ash and from there Ash journey towards freedom begins.
I have mixed feelings for the story of Banana Fish as it has a lot of good things in it but at the same, it has quite a lot of meh things in it which I will talk about in the bit but first let's talk about the good things in Banana Fish's story.
On the surface, Banana Fish has a unique setting that is very different compared to most anime these days. Instead of being set in Japan Banana Fish is set in New York Urban style. Despite the show having a different overall setting, the series goes a solid job at establishing the New York setting as it fullest where see people doing gang/mafia activity left and right and we also see the people who are not part of the plot live they daily lives in peace. This aspect one of the stronger things in Banana Fish because it really makes the world feel alive as the viewers know that New York has a dark side where it's filled with gangs, mafia and druggies who do these dark acts that would have been illegal.
The one thing that I really liked of Banana Fish was how it was able to show the ugly side of humanity as it does showcased a lot of acts that only the worst of people would commit such as rape, human drug experiments, gang warfare, etc. On top of the shows, nice portrayal of showing the worst of humanity comes with the shows excellent theme exploration as the show explores themes of freedom, regret, betrayal and the show does a great job at respecting its core themes and topic s
If there was one thing that Banana Fish nails at its the emotional moments. This easily the most emotionally engaging anime from 2018 period because not only they are beautifully well executed but we see the characters break down into their worst state. The best example of this happens in the second half episode (Spoiler Ahead) After Eiji gets shot and sent to the hospital room we see Ash mentally broken.
Some other great emotional moments when a character named Shorter gets drugged while Eiji couldn't do anything about it. What really made that scene even more sadder is that both Ash and Eiji cannot cure and as a result Ash had no choice to shot him to simply end Shorter pain and as a result of Ash mentally breaks down due to the fact that he couldn't save his one of his close friend from being drugged by the Banana Fish by Abraham.
Unfortunately, Banana Fish has problems. Lots of problems and many of these problems ended hurting the anime.
For starters Banana Fish at various times feels like a style over substance flick as the show seems to highlight it's visuals over storytelling at times. To Banana Fish credits it's not as bad as something like Days or Virgin Soul but still, consider it a problem that ruins the overall writing quality in the show at times.
Another problem with I had with Banana Fish that is pretty repetitive.
It was fine seeing Ash and Eiji getting kidnapped/arrested the first couple of times but after a while, it really got trying seeing one of these two characters getting kidnapped/arrested than later on getting rescued by set person. I understand that this kidnapped is meant to be part of the show theme of freedom but could they least not make happened every 2 to 4 episodes of Banana Fish.
The biggest problem with Banana Fish is without the question is the pacing. While the first four episode of Banana Fish pacing wise was good and engaging but after that pacing moves a blazing speed where it was actually hard to tell what is going on in the narrative. I understand that the show trying to adapt a 19 volume manga into a 24 episode series but I feels the episode count for this series actually does more damage to the show then it helps especially when the show starts rushing/cutting out content in the second half of the series.
Now I haven't read the manga from this time of this review as I decided to go full anime only mode but I easily tell that the show, especially in the second half, is rushed as hell. If this show had 39 episodes like Jojo Part 4 and 5 then this show would have been a better experience but as it stands the pacing in Banana Fish is a mess.
Overall, I found the story of Banana Fish to be above average. It did a quite a lot of good things in it but at the same time, Banana Fish has a lot of problems story-wise that prevent it from being a well-told story. I understand this show is mainly a character driven rather than a story driven but if your pacing is inconsistent like this then it's honestly hard for me to care about some characters which I will talk about now.
While the story ended up being above average overall the characters least the main 2 protagonists completely make it where I can somewhat forgive the pacing issues of Banana Fish.
First up we have Ash Lynx who is a former. Not gonna lie he is easily the best thing about Banana Fish. He is a very well written character who simply wants to be free from Dino's antics. His journey was very satisfying as we see him not only to find freedom by stopping Dino's plans but he also wants to protect Eiji from any harm caused by Dino and the villains. During his childhood years in Cape Cod, he was raped by his Little League coach, and the cops did do anything at all until Ash himself had to kill him with the gun.
He was eventually sent away from his father to live with his aunt however he soon gets captured by Golzine's man as soon got send to Club Cod as a child sex object. Why am I telling you all this you may ask? That's because Ash is literally a broken person who just wanted to live a normal life and every time Ash breaks down we can see his pain and suffering he has endured throughout his life and because of these reasons, Ash is great character and he's easily one of the best characters of 2018.
While Eiji may not as memorable as Ash he still a pretty solid character. He's a polar opposite to Ash where he gets sucked into a mafia world being completely naive and clueless about the situations that Ash managed to drag himself into. Despite his naive attitude at first, he is willing to help Ash accomplished his goal of freedom from Dino and the rival gang.
The rest of the characters, on the other hand, were underdeveloped, and that's the sad part because the other characters in Banana Fish could have been great but the rapid pacing leaves them totally underdeveloped where you ultimately don't care for them. The best example of this was with Skip and Shorter. Outside of the introduction episodes, I couldn't care about them all that much because they didn't enough arrive screen time thanks to the rapid pacing. Shorter's death as much I enjoyed Ash perspective of that scene I couldn't care on Shorter perspective as the show failed to give him a decent spotlight.
As for the villains, I thought they were one dimensional and lacked any real depth whatsoever especially Dino who is a just a typical villain who likes experiment people with drugs. Even though the villains in Banana Fish lack any depth to speak off I feel like the show does a beautiful job at making the viewer loathe them so there that.
The visuals in Banana Fish is for the most part pretty good.
MAPPA did a good job with the character designs, background scenery for the setting of Banana Fish. The cinematography and use of urban colour palettes were very polished as it the show did a fantastic to bring key scenes from the 80s manga to live in anime in such brilliant ways.
The animation is filled, consistent and nicely animated. Yes, it had a couple of shotty visuals cut moments episodes 13 in a nutshell but least it's not as bad as something like Goblin Slayer and Tokyo Ghoul re:
I may be the notoriety here, but I found the soundtrack of Banana Fish to be underwhelming. It's just a selection of generic mafia/gang that you all heard before in any action thriller anime.
All the opening and ending themes in the show were good, catchy and memorable in their own ways.
The voice acting in Banana Fish was outstanding. As a person who usually a dub only watcher, I was blown away of amazing and well acted the Seiyuu were. My favourite performance was hands down Yuuma Uchida. He did a wonderful portraying a broken lovable character Ash and it really makes the anime as the character struggles feel alive.
Unfortunately, Banana Fish from the time of this review hasn't got an English Dub and as a dub fan, this hurts because this show would be perfect for a semi-cast Funimation dub thanks to its American setting, themes and tone that is way different from the typical anime that is set in Japan. I hope this show gets a dub one day done by Bangzoom Entertainment and if it does get a dub I hope Johnny Yosh Bosch would voice Ash.
Ah, Banana Fish. You had so much potential to be one of the best animes of the year but the writing in the second half, the underdeveloped side chararters and the unhealthy blazing speed pacing ruined it.
Look Banana Fish is not a bad series but at the same time, I don't think it's all that great. It is a decent series that has a lot of good things in it like the character Ash, the themes and production values but everything else ranges from meh to pretty shallow.
Despite it's problems, I still recommend Banana Fish to people who are looking for a fun action flick that has a strong main lead.
Just don't expect this to be one of the better animes from this decade because you will only end up being pretty disappointed as a result.
“What is Banana Fish? I heard it’s some Yaoi anime so I’m not going to watch it”
These are the type of comments I’ve seen floating about in regards to Banana Fish. I wanted to address this first, because it’s a huge misconception about what the show is about. In fact the closest thing to “Yaoi elements” is the relationship between the two main leads.
In a time when most shows nowadays are generic isekai light novel adaptations, or eechi harems with self-insert dense MC, filled with cliches and troupes- Banana Fish manages to be a compelling, gritty, complex story about gang warfare, drugs and
the mafia. There’s no fanservice or silly harem here, hell there’s barely any women in the show!
The story is set in the 1900s, about a rebellious gang leader named Ash Lynx, who wants to get revenge against Papa Dino Golzine (who happens to be the man who raised him and treated Ash as his sex toy) for having his older brother injected with a drug named Banana Fish, which through a circumstance of events results in his death. The story may sound simple, but there’s a lot more plot threads and characters at work along with the mystery about what the Banana Fish is, that slowly build the story making it more complex.
Banana Fish tackles dark and mature themes such as: drugs, violence, mafia, gang warfare, rape, child trafficking, pedohilla and corruption. However, it’s not used to be “edgy”, but done in a subtle way without sugarcoating the brutality, to serve a narrative purpose in the story. Due to the realism and raw storytelling, there may be moments where one might find it uncomfortable to watch, so in other words, Banana Fish is not for the faint of heart.
The characters are complex, well written, diverse and memorable. You have amazing side characters like Shorter Wong, Max, Sing, Yue Lung and his revenge arc against his brothers, to Eiji- who’s depicted as a innocent, pure hearted retired athlete who knows nothing of the world of gang he’s suddenly thrust into, but wants to stay by Ash’s side. However, none of the characters are as carefully well crafted or developed as the main protagonist, Ash Lynx. Ash is honestly becoming one of my favourite characters of all time because of how complex and multi faceted he is. I love the dichotomy in his character from a beautiful, cold hearted, ruthless, competent, mature, gang leader & hacker- to this innocent, down to earth, kind hearted, 17 year old kid who’s never had much of a childhood and has been dealing with years of insecurities and psychological trauma. Also, the parralels between Eiji and Ash are well written.
There’s some overreaching villains like Arthur and Dino who admittedly aren’t amazingly well written, but they’re still good characters who are developing and give off a threatening vibe.
Compared to it’s manga counterpart, due to Studio MAPPA’s storyboarding and beautiful dynamic animation, the anime is a thrilling experience to watch!
The opening is amazing. I love the visuals and the fact that it doesn’t spoil too much of the story. I listen to it everytime I watch an episode. The chorus especially is catchy and memorable “Inside my head, inside my head!!” xD
The osts are really good and the ending song is amazing.
I love Banana Fish. There’s not been one episode where I felt was boring or thought was filler because of the well paced narrative. It saddens me to think of how many people skipped this anime because they heard about a Yaoi anime. Banana Fish is a underrated gem that deserves a much higher ranking on MAL.
After more than 30 years, it's finally an anime. Oh mah gawd. As a person who actually finished the manga 12 years ago, I'm here to tell you, don't fuckin drop this.
Comparing the anime and the manga based on ep 1. oh kami. The art is just beautiful. no homo but I didn't think Ash could get any hotter. Action scenes are engaging. It's a fast pace. Like it. The setting's pretty good.
If the anime is going to follow the manga completely, the story is going to be so fucking lit. It's definitely going to be one of the top WILD ass storylines with horrible
pasts. It's WILD. If I were to say what I felt after reading the manga, it's going to give you hints on the ending. It's not expected.
Characters build up is going to be slow. The manga had 19 volumes and it slowly builds up the relationships between the characters. Not going to say much.
However I will say this, there was some homosexual stuff to the extent where it can get weird. But for me personally, its all good. I watched it for the plot. :^)
19 volumes and literally the first ep only covered like 1/5 of the 1st volume.
It's going to be a wild experience. Don't drop it.
This is the first anime that make me create an account and write a review for it, because I want to recommend others that you should watch Banana Fish (BF). It is just incredible, from the animation, camera angle, action scene, plot, story, character design, soundtrack, everything is just awesome.
The story is very realistic. It talks about all bad sides of our world (rape culture, drug, pedophila, corruption) and also the comparison between America and Japan, where people allow to have gun and where people cannot have and also do not need a gun in their life, which is a powerful and meaningful base for
this anime. The plot is very connected and always bring you surprise. Every episode is very heavy, but mixed with some comedy and it make me love BF even more.
Not like other anime, where everything happens slowly (a fight take for 1 or 2 episodes) or the pacing is very slow or the character reading their thought (it always drives me nuts), everything in Banana Fish is incredibly well-organized. The pacing is very accurate, give you enough time to feel and understand the situation (with beautiful music in the background) and not taking anything for a nonsense long time. Every dialogue is really connected to the story and also contain a profound meaning.
The animation is magnificent. The first anime that every scene has a good human proportion with both face and body. People interaction looks very realistic, and people in the background are not just standing like a mannequin, they always doing something like a real person. It makes the anime looks more realistic. The background: New York city with many gorgeous graffiti on wall and a splendid liberty statue; china town which always crowded with people, restaurants and lanterns; the Cape Cod's nostalgic view in a windy field with beautiful dawn (it's a very sad scene); and especially the gorgeous Los Angeles city filled with night lights from the mountain's view. Many camera angle choices are very unique and clever, the animation crew did an awesome jobs on this anime.
Soundtrack: its awesome, just listen and enjoy. My favorite is the ending song Prayer X by King Gnu, it gives me a nostalgic feeling mix of happiness and sadness (T.T). The opening clip is very beautiful with a fit music too.
Overall, I enjoy Banana Fish more than I expected and have to read the manga because I can't wait a week for each episode (I regret for doing that, 'cause I know what will happen now T.T) Banana Fish has become my second favorite anime now, after Fullmetal Alchemist. It will become 1st place in my list if Mappa change the ending of the story. 10/10 for this anime and totally recommend other to give it a try <3 and remember to get your heart ready.
I don't usually write reviews, especially for anime but I really wanted to give my two cents on Banana Fish in the hope it might encourage someone to give this show the chance it deserves.
At its core, Banana Fish is an anime covering heavy topics like rape, drugs, gang violence and paedophilia which it shows with refreshing realism. There's no casually ignoring clearly pedophilic actions or 'uwu non-consensual yaoi', and nothing is used just for the shock value of seeing it on screen. Banana Fish treats these topics with the weight they deserve and doesn't sensationalise or normalise them like they often are in
so many other anime. These topics do come up quite a lot, and I could see how one could argue that they are being used gratuitously (especially rape), but I believe it is handled well. There is no moment where the weight of what is happening is glossed over or ignored, especially by characters in the show (unless that desensitised view in itself is a part of a character).
Yes, Banana Fish does have gay characters, but it is definitely not what I'd consider a 'yaoi'. One of the reasons I avoid most yaoi anime (other than overdone and heteronormative tropes) is the sickening use of rape between the two love interests as a way to get fanservice into the show or to progress the relationship. Banana Fish shows rape and sexual assault as the disgusting, demeaning crime it is, instead of depicting it as a way to 'get the guy' so to speak. It's also so nice to see an anime that puts its plot and characters at the front and centre, instead of having the sexuality of the protagonist's fuel the entire show. So far Banana Fish has done a pretty great job of avoiding the issues that usually run rampant in anime with gay main characters and I'm really excited to see how they handle the budding friendship and (hopefully) relationship between Ash and Eiji. The groundwork has been laid for a genuinely well-written relationship and hopefully, they'll continue to impress me so I can add this to my list of anime with good gay representation.
I was surprised how quickly I became invested in the main cast, and now after only six episodes, I can barely wait to see what trouble Ash and his little entourage get into next. Ash is an incredibly compelling protagonist with a complex tragic history and interesting set of morals, and Eiji is an excellent contrast to that without being a polar opposite. This dynamic is definitely something I'm looking forward to seeing the most. The supporting cast is also awesome, I especially love Shorter and his pink mohawk!
The art style is well developed and has some beautiful elements that help to set apart from many other styles that have been prevalent lately. This is especially noticeable in how the faces are animated. It really fits with the themes of the show and often helps to deliver, and at times further, the emotional impact of certain scenes. The sound used is equally good, and I often find myself turning up the OP when it plays despite being one of those terrible people who usually skip the opening...
Banana Fish hasn't been perfect though (and I can't expect it to be). There have been a few slurs chucked around in the subs which I was quite surprised to see. It could be due to mistranslations etc. but it was still a bit jarring to see f*g used in the subs of an anime.
To sum this up, I'm impressed with how Banana Fish is handling the heavy subject matter it mentions without sensationalising it. The anime was definitely not created to pander to fujoshis, but instead aims to tell a plot and character driven story that includes gay characters/undertones. The characters are complex and interesting, and all of this is wonderfully complemented by the art and soundtrack. Overall I have high hopes for Banana Fish and am looking forward to the rest of the season!
It is well known, even mentioned in the first two episodes, that Banana Fish borrows its odd name from a classic short story written by JD Salinger called “A Perfect Day for Banana Fish.” What is somewhat less noted, however, is how perfectly this reference captures the theme and style of the manga and anime series. Salinger’s story tells of the suicide of Seymour Glass, a World War II vet. The most famous passage of the story features a young man telling a young girl of the “very tragic life” of the Bananafish species who enter a “banana hole” as “very-ordinary looking fish” and gorge
themselves on bananas until they are unable to escape and die.” In many ways, the life of these fictional fish mirrors the life of the main protagonist in the anime, Ash Lynx. One critic of Salinger (Janet Malcolm of the New Yorker) has noted that Salinger depicts life “as a battleground between the normal and abnormal, the ordinary and the extraordinary, the talentless and the gifted, the well and the sick.” This, too, is a very apt description of the picture we get of the dark world in the anime.
Banana Fish tells the story of Ash, a brilliant 17-year-old boy. Ash was raped at a young age, ran away from home and taken in by the mafia as a sex slave, worked is way up in the organization after winning the favor of the mafia boss (and main antagonist, Dino Goldzine), and is currently a gang leader in New York. As might be expected of anyone with such a tragic background, Ash is extremely mentally unhealthy, verging into becoming a full-fledged sociopath just like his abusers. Into his life comes Eiji, a rather normal yet caring Japanese photographer traveling with a journalist documenting gang life in America. Here we immediately see the contrast between normal and abnormal, well and sick, and talentless and gifted, and how this contrast might hopefully be resolved in Ash and Eiji’s relationship. Yet Banana Fish is also about a riveting mystery around what “banana fish”—not the fictional species of Salinger—is, its connections to a massive plot involving the military, and the development character of a large cast of interesting, well-developed gangsters who act as fantastic foils to Ash (particularly a Chinese mob master named Yut-Lung).
The basic concept of the plot is intriguing, engrossing, and thematically dense. It plays in morally gray areas beyond good and evil, capturing some rather Nietzschean themes about the healthiness or unhealthiness of basic morality. Do “normal” moral constraints merely domesticate prodigious nobles like Ash or helps humanize such people and making them truly happy? Ultimately, Banana Fish takes the side of the latter. It further explores extremely dark psychological dimensions of post-traumatic stress disorder, graphic depictions of sexual assault and violence, manipulation, and psychological torture. Be warned, this is not a series for the faint of heart. Yet it consistently gives room for characters to realistically react to these events, and console each other through the darkest of moments (this becomes the cornerstone of Ash and Eiji’s relationship).
Is the execution of this concept, adapted from Akimi Yoshoda’s classic, critically acclaimed 1985-94 manga series, any good though? I have not read the manga so cannot comment on its status as an adaptation. However, I can say that it largely stands up on its own merits. Some have raised concerns about MAPPA’s decision to put the series in modern era rather than its original setting in the late-80s. I agree it probably would have been stronger in its original time. There are moments where some events strain credulity in a modern setting. The whole notion of a gang scene this active and violent in New York makes sense in the 80s in a way it no longer does, some of the projects the military engaged in so central to the plot were more fitting in the Cold War than the modern context, the lack of professional female characters in even in the background (eg., doctors, police, etc.) is somewhat odd in 2018, and a lot of the political commentary is more suited to 1980s America than modern day. Overall, there is very little distinctive about the story that demands a modern setting. However, these are rather minor gripes and if we can suspend our disbelief for so many plot-hole ridden absurd fantastical shounen anime, a little anachronism and is completely forgivable.
Another somewhat valid complaint is the unbelievably high concentration of homosexual/bisexual male characters, or at least those who are willing to engage in sexual acts with other men. Sometimes, it is unclear whether the characters want to have sex for erotic reasons or are simply using sexual abuse with other males as a method of control and power (as is usually the case with sexual abuse), and this particularly is the case with Goldzine and Foxx. In these cases, it is forgivable, and clearly having Ash and Eiji show such tendencies was rather necessary. Yet there are moments where I cannot help but agree with this criticism, such as a rather unnecessary scene where Ash successfully (and comically) seduces a random security guard so he can steal his gun and escape. But again, for the era when the manga was written an overrepresentation of homosexual content was hardly a pressing problem. Further, the fact that a prominent anime is finally exploring homosexual themes while not engaging in a rape fetish like most garbage-tier yaoi, but instead critically presents sexual abuse as traumatic is to be celebrated.
As for the main plot, Banana Fish ambitiously packs a huge amount of content into its 24-episode run, launching right into the action in the very first episode. At moments it feels slightly rushed (especially the last two episodes). Further, there are scenes, background stories, and subplots I wish the series could have had time to explore in far more dept hand detail—such as Ash’s childhood, Ling’s backstory, or the culture shock Eiji must have had on a road trip across America. It also is somewhat wanting of a better explanation of what Eiji is even doing here.
Despite this, it largely is remarkably well-paced for such a short though ambitious project. After some of the most disturbing, action-packed, and climatic scenes, it will go into almost slice-of-life style episodes where little happens that allow for character development on a level rarely attained in such action-heavy crime dramas. So much of this series suggestively shows the development of relationships and dynamic character changes(especially the budding romance between Ash and Eiji) in a subdued manner rather than telling you what’s happening very bluntly and directly. These episodes are a welcome break and its development of the main characters in these episodes and scene are where it truly shines.
This is not to say, though, the main action-packed scenes are not good. They are fantastically directed, some of the best-looking fight scenes that could be hoped for. Some may find the events somewhat cyclical and repetitive, jumping from one kidnapping and escape sequence to another. For one, this is somewhat of a simplification of the events, and more importantly, each climatic sequence is sufficiently different to retain interest. If we can make it through most repetitive, drawn-out, and trope-dependent shounen fight scene arcs, this is amazing by comparison.
There are some relatively minor flaws in its writing. Most notably, a few backstories of key characters introduced later in the series are explained in a somewhat rushed manner. I would have preferred this series be about ten or so episodes longer to more thoroughly develop these characters. However, it certainly got the job done adequately. Another problem is the dialogue is sometimes clunky and awkward. At times, this is due to obvious translation errors in the subtitles (the translation of “fag” in the first episode is obviously inaccurate and off-putting even as someone who does not speak Japanese, and “I will kill whomever hurt you” is not a grammatical sentence). Other times, it is clearly the fault of the writers and just corny—such as the end of a key scene where an antagonist maniacally laughs in a cartoonish manner in episode ten. There are also moments where ill-fated attempts at humor are awkwardly thrown into otherwise serious and dark scenes. Yet, overall, the writing is heartfelt and believable, and these minor slip ups can be forgiven.
In terms of animation and directing, it is rare to see such a feast for the eyes outside of carefully crafted films by an elite few directors. There are scenes that took my breath away with how well they were executed in terms of cinematography. Zooming in on details in the background that were previously only subtly gestured towards for profound emotional effect, interesting perspectives taken in unpredictable though fitting ways, and extremely disturbing and violent scenes where little gore is shown but audio cues and off-focus camera angles let the imagination run wild all contribute to a powerful, raw, and artistic visual experience. There was fantastic attention to detail down to the labels of whiskey bottles.
The largest success in terms of animation are the character designs and especially the movement and expressions of some of the main characters. Just watch the second intro (featuring “Freedom” by Blue Encount) on YouTube, which starts with a captivating image of Ash’s pupil’s dilating, to see just how successful this series is in this respect. This is not to say the animation is perfect, there were a few incongruous moments of mediocre CGI implementation in the first two episodes (see, for an example, the Statue of Liberty shot in episode 1). However, even these were barely noticeable, and the animation improved noticeably as the series went along.
The soundtrack is as versatile as it is suitable. It mostly accompanies in a subdued manner and even remained silent in all the right places. It mixes dissonant piano melodies, jazzy hip-hop beats, and dark choral pieces into a rich audio tapestry. I did not notice it while watching it on a weekly basis, yet when I binged through the whole series in one sitting the day of the premiere of the finale it became clear that soundtrack is good. Further, the vocal performances by most of the voice actors, particularly Yuuma Uchida's portrayal of Ash, are pretty stellar. Even the choices for intro and outro songs, often integrated into key scenes, are amazing and completely fitting in both tone and lyrics.
I do not believe that I have ever personally held a series in such an overwhelmingly positive regard that seems to be largely receiving, at best, mixed or tepid reviews (at least relative to my estimation). Perhaps it’s because I approached it with such low expectations. I was expecting another mediocre shoujo/shounen-ai with half-baked crime elements but was stunned by the dark and rich world into which it immersed me. I watched each episode as it came out and was shocked by how much I liked it, then I decided to binge the whole thing in one sitting to see if really lived up to the hype I was giving it and decided it did. This truly is a series that defies any genre or box you could try to put it into. I've seen it categorized as everything from Seinen, to crime drama, to adventure, to Shounen-ai, to Shoujo. Perhaps its all of these, but really feels quite beyond all of them.
Maybe I’m just overreacting to its personally relevant and impactful twist ending (which, without spoiling anything, was one of the biggest and most surprising emotional gut-punches I’ve ever experienced). Maybe I’m just overly excited I finally found an anime with a fantastically developed homoromantic relationship. Maybe I just read too much philosophical content into it. Regardless, I can’t help but completely love this series and give it only the second perfect 10 I have ever given, despite its admitted flaws. Perhaps I will downgrade my estimation of it after some reflection. For now, though, sits second on my favorite list only behind Brotherhood.
**Spoilers but whatever**
The first 4-5 episodes are pretty damn good and if the show kept my interest after those, I would rate this show higher than I did. Unfortunately, it falls into those boring anime tropes that really ruin the interesting story they had going on.
I didn't have a problem with how most of the characters in the show are either gay or extremely progressive in their views on homosexuality, but they take it so far so that every single character Ash meets has to say how '"pretty" or attractive he is, even these tough mobsters and gang leaders and the straight married adults in
the show. That was pretty weird. Where the show started failing for me was when the main characters friend ( or love interest, they really leave that question wide open) starts getting upset that he kills people all the time, despite knowing he was a gang leader and WATCHING HIM KILL PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE SHOW. Then when Ash starts questioning the kind of person he is for killing all these people, despite having been doing it in gangs for the entire second half of his life. He has been running a gang for years, he kills people almost every episode, I have no idea where this guilty conscience suddenly came from. Then when they start making it look like he's some sort of genius with elite hacker skills, it all falls apart. This guy has been a male prostitute and sex slave since he was like 11, it seems like he never even went to middle school and grew up in this rural town with nothing in it until he was kidnapped by a mob lord. Where did he learn how to "hack a computer", much less funnel 90 million dollars from foreign bank accounts by selling fake stocks and then immediately purchase a massive condo in New York with cash? Well they never explain any of that, and considering the realism they put in so many other parts of the show it's really strange how easily that went about. Then in the later episodes he just hides in plain site with glasses on like he's Clark Kent and nobody ever catches him, which is total bullshit. I just don't get why they started pushing this bogus "genius" persona for him, when he was just a badass mobster with good people skills up to this point. It just became a cliche and it was really hard to keep the same level of interest when they started throwing out all these lame plot devices in the middle of the season.
TLDR; It was good until Ash suddenly becomes an elite hacker genius who randomly gets a guilty conscious after killing people his entire life, therefore seeming more like a little bitch and less like the badass he was made out to be in the first several episodes. He gets less and less likable every episode while every character in the show seems to think he's the hottest genius on earth.
*edited 1 DEC *
so those who watched this anime so far...i told you its so good didn't it?
i really love everything about banana fish...with all these airing anime series BANANA FISH is the only perfect one for me...i wait the whole week to watch one episode really...a total 23 minutes :|
in my opinion this anime is one of the top anime series of 2018..those who like the story should watch it
this anime created by yuri on ice studio(MAPP) and free! director so you can see the quality here :))
so here we go:
STORY 10/10 :the story is really enjoyable...its about a guy called ASH...he is
a member of American mafia,he is a cold and ruthless person.to seek revenge for his brother he wants to tear the mafia apart.and also wants to know what banana fish is because his brother keeps repeating the name after he lost his sanity.one day he met a boy named Eiji who is a journalist from japan and with his help he is going to discover the truth.
he suffered a a lot because of mafia leader papa dino...he was raped and tortured.
ASH finally can be himself around eiji but he knows that if he stay by his side eiji is gonna be in danger...he does anything and everything to keep eiji safe :(
P.S:MY POOR BABY ASH :'(
*SPOILER*:when Yut Lung told him to pull the trigger and kill himself for saving eiji he didn't hesitate and that was a real big shock for me :( i love them(ash and eiji) so much *~*
ART 10/10: the art is fantastic exactly like yuri on ice and even better,love the art *~*
sound 10/10:i freaking love the soundtracks...they are awesome @~@ the openings and endings are PERFECT
CHARACTER 10/10:each character is fantastic in its own way...i love the leads
ASH:a person who is broken into pieces many times but refuse to give up,he finally found the happiness to some point and fights for it desperately.
Eiji:a person with a lot of potential and a very kind heart,he was saved by ASH so he does anything for him and wants to save ash from all this mafia madness and take him somewhere without any guns and fights :(
Shorter:ash's best friend and china town's boss
MAX:a reporter who helps ash and eiji multiple times...he was griffin(ash's older brother)'s friend :D
Yut Lung:chinese mafia leader...he is a broken person just like ash...actually they are so much alike...he is jealous of ash & eiji's relationship so he does everything to destroy both of them :|
Ibe:eiji's guardian,a photographer and journalist :D
we have a lot of interesting characters in this anime...each of them was written and animated perfectly XD
ENJOYMENT 10/10: i really was amazed by this anime so i decided to write a review for others to watch it...i really enjoy every and each episode...i feel so excited and yet suffocated when i'm about to watch a new episode every week...not many anime can do that to me....
OVERALL 10/10 : so we have a mafia based anime here and if you enjoy watching a very good mafia story with a lot of actions and dramas this anime is for you...YOU WILL ENJOY IT FOR SURE :)
So I rewatched this anime a second time. All 24 episodes. Not out of desperate need or desperate desire to rewatch, but to accurately rate this material for myself and for you, since I forgot things and the momentum was broken, since I watched while it was airing and saw episodes inconsistently.
It’s honestly very difficult to classify this show. It’s about gangs, but it’s not. It’s about drugs, but it’s not. It’s about survival, but it’s not. It’s about love, but it’s not. Willing to sacrifice everything, but at the same time not budging to compromise who you are and why you fight no matter
Banana fish very accurately depicts and reflects truths about corruption within political systems: Politicians that sell-out, human experimentation, drug distribution, child sex trafficking circles, under-the-table deals with mafia leaders, military contracts, etc. Very real issues are portrayed, and Banana Fish does not hold back in regards to showing the viewer how horrendous human beings can truly be.
Although it is easy to become infatuated with this work by many means (the artwork, the music, the story, the bl, or just Ash Lynx and his dynamic character), it is important to know that this is a unique story, and many people will go into it with expectations that will let them down. If you’re expecting an anime with 30 simultaneous and convoluted storylines like HxH 2011, then this won’t live up to that expectation. If you’re here simply for what you heard may be shounen-ai, you will probably be disappointed. The story is much more than any potentially showcased relationships.
If you ask people what Banana Fish is about, you will most likely get very long answers. The story itself isn’t hard to follow, but there are many aspects to it: drugs, politics, rape, freedom, power, violence, gangs, friendship, revenge, and all of these play key roles in the overall story.
In essence, Banana Fish is the story about a boy who constantly endures tragic and unfortunate events wherever he goes. A boy who doesn’t let his past dictate who he is. A boy who wants to love the world, but is not allowed to lower his defenses. A boy who is willing to sacrifice everything he has achieved to protect his friends. Who goes against the grain every step of the way, yet manages to remain humble. A boy who obtains power by his own incredible wit, charm, and strength. For revenge? Ambition? Justice? Freedom? For love? You tell me, but would you sacrifice your life in hopes that someone like this boy would let go of their baggage and begin to live a life they can be proud of? How would it feel if at any moment that person could disappear right before your eyes, and you are powerless to do anything about it? This is the story of Banana Fish.
I really do admire this animation for how effectively it illustrates human emotion and conflict. Despite the awesomeness of this show, there are a few things that could’ve been done a tad better. I have heard people say that plot points in the story became repetitive in regards to certain situations, and in a sense that is true, but after watching it a second time (with a better grip of how/why things happen in the show), I’ve realized that the progression of the story is so real. It is pretty impressive the amount of material that was packed into 24 episodes, and while there wasn’t a huge amount of room for character development for every single main character, the main cast did have depth, and they had great interactions with each other, and the second time around those ‘repetitive’ situations really didn’t seem repetitive at all. Yes there are characters that made arguably thoughtless decisions as they were written to, but there was plausibility and reason in every choice made, and the story was carefully crafted over three decades ago to arrive where it did.
What really did it for me were the great shootouts and fight scenes, coupled with the emotional scenes that complimented them, the lovely soundtracks that carried certain scenes and that stuck with me afterwards, both OP’s and ED’s (especially the first ED), the progression of the main characters and their relationship, and to the total disagreement of many, how the antagonists were handled.
This anime had me hooked at the first episode. From the brilliant animation and impeccably detailed illustrated environments, to the fast paced- but not rushed- plot line. The episodes hardly left you on a frustrating cliffhanger, but i was always left wanting more. I'd always find myself asking questions every Thursday in the episode's wake, like "How big of an issue does Banana Fish actually get? Will Ash really be able to protect Eiji and manage to watch his back simultaneously?" I couldn't keep my mind off it.
HOWEVER, as you've probably figured out, this anime fits into the
category of a TRAGEDY. And it follows that to a T. You'll probably walk away from this series feeling heartbroken.
Taking a step back and observing the subtle elements that brought more color to the story, I found that the scattered references to American literature were the ones that stood out to me the most. From minute comparisons to Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, to Ash's whole life being a tragic parallel to Hemingway's Snows of Kilimanjaro. It brought so much depth- you could almost believe BFish was a true story.
And on the subject of the characters, they felt just as real. There are a plethora of interactions which you'd expect to see in real life. There's Ash's right hand man, Eiji Okumura, who is comfortingly benign versus Dino Golzine who caused almost all of Ash's problems. They really broaden the spectrum of personalities seen within the story. Even so, they were not without their flaws. Every single character against Ash is shown to be homosexual, and it disrupted the believable flow the show seems to be so good at.
As for the soundtrack, it is easy to overlook, but if you pay attention it is actually very well done and contributes a lot to the mood of every scene. I was so excited when Ash was walking down that alley in the beginning of the first episode, even though nothing was really happening (at first). Some of the ones that stuck with me were #1 BANANA FISH, #21 TEARS OF THE LYNX, #30 HIM AND HYM, and #44 PRAYER. The openings and endings have somewhat applicable lyrics, the first two songs are great.
And finally, the ending. Personally, I found the last episode to be very rushed plot-wise, and that made it difficult to really empathize or feel the grief/joy that I was anxiously anticipating as opposed to the the manga which really drew it out. That being said, the last episode is what leaves the last, and most important impression. The series as a whole is gorgeous and high quality, but it was hard to remember that. But don't get me wrong- the last episode wasn't bad. In fact, I had tears in my eyes.
Overall, this is an absolutely fantastic anime. It explores LGBT themes without being the focus of the story or blatantly pandering to an audience. The majority of events happen at a satisfying pace with appropriate placement of soundtrack, and characters that you can become easily attached to. It doesn't skirt around the grotesque themes like rape and human trafficking, but won't show the disturbing unnecessary details that can be derived from situational context/ hinting. There are so many nuanced situations and that's why I love it. It makes you think AND feel. It just doesn't classify as a shoujo/BL, it's so much more than that and you'll hear this from almost anyone who's watched Banana Fish.
There is a man in the city. Nobody knows the man's name. He lives for killing and buddies, himself. But it's not only that.
Revenge, atonement, best friend. These elements are big key for him. Especially best friend...another boy is yearning for the man.
They are connected to each other strongly. If the man break up the boy, what do you think he will be in the future?
Wrath and sadness. It depends on every emotion, He will lose sight of the essentials. There is a possibility.
Meeting seems difficult but easy. Parting come up right away. He struggle untill death do them part. Even if no matter
His motto is he cherish the best friend and buddies. At the same time, many conspiracy and mastermind surrounding him.
He wonder if he can change thrust into the harsh reality? Can He lead brilliant future? Or he will fall down there...
Setting is America. Protagonist of this show is Ash Lynx. He is a boss of gang. He got his hands dirty, and he move up current capacity.
Criminal act named underworld happen frequently. Ash is living among them. His power and his buddies are dependable.
Especially Shorter is irreplaceable existence for Ash. And Eiji Okumura came from Japan for some reason.
Ash and Eiji come to considerate each other carefully. Ash's true feeling is terminate this conflict as soon as possible.
And he want to pass peaceful and happy days with his buddies. I think it is desirable thing for Ash.
But atrocious villains including Golzine disturb Ash. So Ash will taste same bitterness over and over again, take punishment close to torture.
Nevertheless, Ash never give up. Because of he has firm faith. He kills emenies in front of his eyes without hesitation. It is task and fate of strong man.
Notable Advantages are well made characters, world-view. This show is depicting clearly combined with beautiful art and animation by MAPPA.
Ash is basically cool and clearheaded character. He can accept human who he recognized. He has generosity. Anyways, he is attractive.
Eiji is meddlesome and tender-hearted boy. He is conscious of Ash as his friend and buddy. I have good feeling of him.
Otherwise, Lee Yut Lung appear in later episodes. He also charming. His cunning makes me scary. He is really dangerous.
Personally, I like Sing Soo-Ling, too. His voice and looking are my type. He is vigorously young man in good meaning.
I don't read manga though, I understand Akimi Yoshida's unique essence and storytelling. These annex this show exquisitely.
Clever and coherent dialogues, go above and beyond, many thrilling scenes. There is variety as if it weren't already enough. Keep us from being bored.
Solid style what unbefitting shoujo genre is this show's symbol. Probound scenes between everywhere and soft design are truly excellent. I feel shoujo there.
Elocution also dopeness like Crime film. It is modern version of The Godfather. If you like Mafia drama, you're into this show.
As proportion, male characters are so many. Female characters are overwhelming little. Opinions are divided. But I like it.
OP and ED songs are surprisingly wonderful. 1-cour OP makes us hunch divination about spectacular story, ED is depicting Ash's trouble politely. 2-cour also same.
This show is first TV anime's tie-up of Survive Said The Prophet. Lyrics and Melody are fitting this show perfectly. And so cool.
I became of this band fan by this show. My favorite music genres are Rock and Metal. So my compatibility with them is suit.
Thanks to this show, I also became fan of King Gnu. Tune that I wouldn't think mixture is admirable.
Voice acting is perfect, and fitting each characters. Especially Ash! It goes without saying that his attraction is further increased.
Flaw is only this. Raw and such as heart is painful scenes are so many. It cannot be helped. But these certainly sore.
Human has salvation even if fall in a dilemma invariably. Anime what It feels even more like that is Banana Fish.
This show is absolutely not for everyone. Far distant position. That's why this show is so realistic.
However, I recommend more many people. The reason is that this show is not only interesting, I want you to know familiar important people's value again.
I'm jealous for Ash and Eiji. Their relationship is very similar to me and my elder brother. So I empathize this show.
This show is close to masterpiece. I think this show is quite underrated. Awesome show.