Hey yo readers, yes, I am depressed with the world and everything in it. Banana Fish had just ended and it broke me so hard. I’ve never felt this bad watching an anime. I mean…………. *goes away hiding those tears*
So, here’s to my opinion about the show and let’s discuss and cry together. #insertonionninjas
It is not a Yaoi or Shounen-ai. The one of the most important thing that the fans of this show have been particularly stressing about is, that it is not your usual Yaoi or Shounen-ai. And “You must watch this; best anime of the year.
Yes, Let me highlight the above notice to let Y’all be clear. As said, I was one of those people who got distracted by the yaoi/Shounen-ai stuff. Plus, another huge deal is about the misconception in regards to the name of this anime, “BANANA FISH“. I don’t understand it but I guess for starting a new anime, we all judge it’s title first before jumping into actually watching. Misconception = Misjudged and guess what, you almost missed an awesome anime series.
Moving on to the plot of Banana Fish:
“Banana Fish”, a malicious drug being created by the mafia don, Papa Dino Golzine. The drug is being tested anonymously on random soldiers. The person who takes this drug gets overwhelmed by their fear and attacks their own comrades.
Meet Ash Lynx, a stoic 17-year old mob gang boss in the New York City encounters a man on streets who utters the word “Banana Fish” before his death. Also, he tells an address along with a drug sample. Ash, who works for Papa Dino Golzine, hides this information from the Don and tried to learn about the drug from his reliable source.
Meanwhile, Shunichi Ibe, a Japanese Photojournalist along with his assistant, Eiji Okumura, comes to New York City to do a report on street gangs. During their visit, they meet Ash and his gang.
Back to Papa Dino Golzine confirms that Ash had met with the mysterious man who died giving out the sample. Papa Dino Golzine sends out his men to capture Ash and retrieve the sample drug. They attack the place where Ash and his gang were hanging out; along with Shunichi Ibe and Eiji Okumura. Eiji and Skip, Ash’s friend get kidnapped by Papa Dino Golzine’s men. Ash chases them to get caught eventually. Later when all three (Ash, Eiji, and Skip) were kept hostages, Eiji uses his Pole vaulting skills to Jump out the building and escapes to get help, in order to save Ash and Skip. Unfortunately, Skip dies in front of Ash, who gets injured as well. To get revenge for killing his friend Skip, Ash pursuits the guy who shot Skip. By the time, he reaches the place, the guy is found to be dead already. The police arrive and Ash gets falsely accused of killing the guy.
During his imprisonment, Ash meets Max Lobo, a freelance journalist. Max Lobo was advised to protect Ash from any bullying inside the prison. Ash also learns that Max Lobo is a veteran of the Vietnam War and the best friend of his older brother, Griffith Callenreese. After learning that Max Lobo had indeed the person who shot his brother, Ash gets angry and warns him that he might die once Ash gets released. They both became distant to each other; mainly due to Ash hating his brother’s best friend.
Max Lobo tries his best to look out for Ash but despite his efforts, Ash gets raped and abused voluntarily, he uses this opportunity to get admitted in the hospital where he gets a pill for medication. Ash manipulates the pill to send out information to Eiji, who visits him in prison.
Eiji receives the message and acts accordingly. On his first mission to help Ash Lynx, Eiji gets tailed by Papa Dino Golzine’s men in the Chinatown area. Again, Eiji gets caught and unfortunately, this time Ash’s older brother Griffith Callenreese gets shot. However, Ash’s reliable source, the doctor who’s investigating the sample drug is also present there. He helps Ash’s older brother. But, even after getting treated Griffith dies.
Little info on the doctor and Ash’s older brother, Griffith Callenreese:
Ash left his older brother Griffith Callenreese with this doctor, whom he trusts. The doctor took care of his older brother also did help Ash with his requests. When Ash discovered about “Banana Fish” and received the sample drug, he gave it to the doctor to analyze it.
The reason why Ash was interested in BANANA FISH:
Ash’s older brother was Griffith Callenreese and a veteran of Vietnam War. Griffith becomes mentally ill and handicapped when Ash found him. Griffith seemed mentally unstable and kept repeating the word “BANANA FISH” often. When Ash found that another guy who was about dying also said those same words, Ash became curious to find about this ‘BANANA FISH’.
Back to the storyline:
Max Lobo hears about Griffith’s death and was informed not to convey the news to Ash Lynx. However, Max gave in to his guilt and spilled the news to Ash Lynx. On rage and frustration, Ash tries to make some trouble, but Max fights him to avoid any more problems. Soon, they both reconcile their relationship by sharing a drink. Ash seems how much Max had cherished his friend Griffith. With the help of Max’s Lawyer, Ash gets released and immediately reunited with his gang to plan on killing Papa Dino Golzine.
Thus, the chase begins with Ash trying to kill Papa Dino Golzine and Papa Dino Golzine in capturing Ash.
This is a huge chase and a lot of other characters get introduced as well. Ash along with the help from Max Lobo, both discovers a lot of evidence and information on ‘BANANA FISH’. They plan on exposing it to the media with the help of Max Lobo, who used to be a freelance Journalist.
Eiji Okumura gets tagged along in this chase and becomes Ash’s only strong weakness which the enemies exploit countless times. So, our protagonist Ash Lynx had to save Eiji every single time from the bad boys.
Let’s take a brief look into some of the important characters that made BANANA FISH the best anime of 2018:
Here, I would like to write about the other characters apart from Ash Lynx and Eiji Okumura.
I talked about Max Lobo previously. An ex-soldier, freelance journalist and an ex-police officer, Max is indeed the man of many talents. He was also the first one to hear about “BANANA FISH”; from his comrade Griffith Callenreese. He tried to research about it right from that moment. However, he wasn’t able to discover whether it’s a drug or is it an actual person?
Max kind of felt like another brother to Ash Lynx. They had mutual interest, Griffith Callenreese, and BANANA FISH. Both joined hands to learn about BANANA FISH. As their journey went together, Ash soon began to trust Max and even calls him “Fake-father”, which I believe Ash’s way of caring for Max. Here’s a clip to show that Ash loves his people:
Shorter Wang is Ash’s best friend and also the guy who control Chinatown. He controls the Chinese gang all over. Soon after his appearance, Shorter is definitely Ash Lynx’s right hand. Ash often lets Shorter to protect Eiji. The guy trusts him and they have a strong bond. But during the chase, the Lee family’s last son, Yut-Lung Lee blackmails Shorter to listen to his order. Soon, Shorter betrays Ash Lynx in the mission of capturing Eiji Okumura; plan devised by Papa Dino Golzine and executed by Arthur, an ex-member of Ash’s street gang.
My opinion about this character is that I loved him all from the beginning. I also hated him for betraying Ash, but it was a difficult moment even for Shorter. I loved the fact that Yut-Lung Lee is shown as the bad guy but also he gets to see what the Chinese American people expect from the Lee family which is known to rule internationally. Yut-Lung Lee’s behavior changes from being the bad guy to someone who wants to help Ash during the mission of “Kidnapping Eiji to capture Ash”.
Shorter’s death is too cruel to watch. To show the effects of BANANA FISH and to let Ash get affected, Papa Dino Golzine used Shorter Wang. They injected BANANA FISH on Shorter’s body and ordered him to kill Eiji in front of the captured Ash Lynx. At the final moment, they give Ash a pistol to save his friend. Ash, with his skills, shoots at Shorter and saves Eiji. Seeing the effects of the drug from his best friend, Ash later burned Shorter Wand’s body to avoid the enemies using it for their test purposes.
Alright, straight up we all hated him from the first moment he appeared on the screen. This guy betrays Ash and joins hands with Papa Dino Golzine in order to kill Ash. Reason? Simply because he’s a coward. Arthur and Ash had a past of fighting each other for ruling the street gangs. Ash won and Arthur lost the fight to his embarrassment. The result of the fight turned out that Ash becomes the leader /boss for the street gangs. Arthur had always planned revenge despite following him.
However, when the time arrived, he betrayed Ash. They had their second fight ‘during the chase’ but Arthur did lose again and eventually died in the hand of Ash Lynx. I liked his character design, worked well in achieving the hate from the audience. To me, Arthur is just a guy who’s jealous of Ash Lynx. His death was reasonable to me, meaning Ash deserved to kill him for betraying him which lead to the deaths of Skip and shorter. Here’s a clip of Arthur hating or betraying Ash Lynx and finally dying:
This character to me is the most twisted and pathetic one. Yut-Lung Lee is neither an enemy nor an alliance to Ash. At first, we see him as this cruel guy disguised to kidnap Eiji by blackmailing Shorter Wang. Then we see him seeing Shorter Wang die and realized the BANANA FISH’s power. He later helps Ash escape.
A little bit about Yut-Lung Lee, we know this guy is the last one on the family. His mother was literally raped and killed in front of him by his brothers. He was used by his brothers for his feministic looks, got severely trained in learning about poisons and stuff, also got abused I believe. Because, throughout the story, Yut-Lung Lee was shown as someone similar to Ash, someone being abused assaulted and had a dark past. Yut-Lung Lee also compares himself to Ash and thus hates Eiji with all his might.
Yut-Lung Lee, despite being tamed under his brothers, after meeting Shorter Wang and learning about BANANA FISH, he kills all of his brothers and takes over the Lee family. He could have been the good guy but seeing Eiji helping and caring for Ash made him jealous which resulted in him choosing the wrong path. Yut-Lung Lee’s hate for Eiji later gets resolved by Blanca, his bodyguard. Blanca reveals the reason behind his hate; which is that Ash despite his dark past learns to love on contrary to Yut-Lung Lee, who is refused to get help or accept love.
Finally, when everything gets resolved Yut-Lung Lee discovers his help and learns to move on. I mean like, “come on man, and don’t be such a baby” is what I would say to this character.
Papa Dino Golzine:
And the main figure of this whole mafia world, Papa Dino Golzine. This guy can actually take control of anything and anyone. He can change the laws, manipulate people, and even control the government; such a powerful underworld mafia. Papa Dino Golzine, when discovered Ash used him as his sex toy, trained him to polish his naturally gifted skills, and had plans to make him the next heir to his criminal empire. The things he did are just worst and dirty. He did child-sex trafficking, by bringing in poor orphan kids to satisfy his clients. He created BANANA FISH in order to make a deal with the US military.
It alright, the mafia world is indeed cruel and haunting for more money. But, Papa Dino Golzine’s main objective was to keep Ash Lynx to himself. We can say that he was indeed attracted to Ash Lynx’s beauty and wanted to tame him. This is was the reason why Ash wanted to kill Papa Dino Golzine. Ash wanted freedom in his life, which cannot be achieved with Papa Dino being alive. If you want to know whether Papa Dino survives or not? Make sure to watch “BANANA FISH”.
Well, this man is too bad, to begin with. So, here’s a clip from the series where Ash hacks Papa Dino’s stock and use the money to buy a condo.
I mean we all loved the Godfather, but this guy is so sick in a very bad way.
Now, that’s all for the main characters but I’m going to mention a few other characters shortly who all made their presence loud and vibrant.
The one who takes control of the Chinatown and the Chinese gang after Shorter Wang’s death is Sing Soo-Ling. He did blame Ash Lynx for killing Shorter initially but after learning the truth behind it from Eiji he became a confidant to Ash. Despite his child-like nature, Sing-Soo Ling is definitely a skilled leader who’ll protect his members to his death. Sing-Soo Ling is also an expert tactician, who helped Ash’s gang to bring back Ash from Papa Dino Golzine’s house. His talent is often shined at times like this, making him a valuable asset to Ash and the gang.
Remember Yut-Lung Lee, the guy who refused to accept any care and love. Well, Sing Soo-Ling is often shown as a friendly figure for Yut-Lung Lee. The guy had soft spot for Sing, which can be seen many times. Even after all the chaos, Yut-Lung Lee accepts sing’s help to make Chinatown a good place for their people.
I say, Sing Soo-Ling, go, man, you are indeed a leader.
Despite the pressure he faced from his own gang members accusing Ash of Shorter’s death, Sing did become an ally for Ash, in terms of helping him in his chase. Sing Soo-Ling is a clean character with some really good characteristics for the story. Check out this really good scene Sing beat some sense to Yut-Lung Lee:
I gotta mention them or else this article would have been just a plain one.
That’s it for the characters.
Now, I would like to focus on the main protagonists, Ash Lynx, and Eiji Okumura.
Ash Lynx and Eiji Okumura – is it yaoi or Shounen-ai or just a brotherly friendship
One of the major debate that’s been going on with the anime series is about the confusion: whether is it yaoi or Shounen-ai or just the main characters being good friends?
Now, the way I see and understand is that Ash and Eiji definitely had feelings for each other. Let’s break it down:
Ash’s life history:
- Grew up in Cape Cod,
- Sexually abused by a little league coach,
- At the age of 8, ultimately killed the man who raped him several times,
- Ran away from home,
- Taken in by Golzine’s men,
- Sent to child-sex trafficking,
- Became a male prostitute,
- A sex toy for Papa Dino Golzine,
- Trained to become Golzine’s heir to his criminal empire.
– all of this within his 17 years of life. We’d probably be depressed and dead by the end of first few parts.
Ash learned to survive in the jungle. He believed that he needed to survive in this filthy, harsh world even if it meant sacrificing himself. Literally, like a slave or a prostitute, he learned to pick up himself from the filth, just to survive. Pretty damn hard right? This is where I cried so hard because out of all the series, movies that I have watched, stories that I have read, by far Ash Lynx is one of the protagonists to have suffered this much- it’s really messed up. I can’t help but feel sad for the poor soul.
Now, we have also seen Ash using his naturally gifted charms to get things done. This is also a lesson that he must have learned along the journey so far. Use your charming ability to attract people if it means to make you escape danger. Do it.
I just want to mention that I love the moment when Max’s ex-wife brings herself out to ask if Ash got raped. To which, Ash replied “yes” casually, but he also states that “He would be dead long before now if it took him that long”. The whole scene was just too good. Check it out below:
Moving on to Eiji, we all know he is the gentle boy who got dragged into this mess. When Eiji learned that Ash was just trying to live freely and also Ash was deeply trapped into this mess called “the mafia game”. As the story goes on, Eiji learns about Ash more and more. The more he figures out Ash, the more he gets targeted by the enemies. Plus, Ash started feeling more comfortable and safe with Eiji around. This turned out to be his only strong weakness.
Do I think Ash loves Eiji in a romantic way, as in lovers? Maybe!!!!
Alright, here’s the deal, throughout the series, a few of the characters mentioned the word “Friends” while talking about Ash and Eiji’s relationship. From my point of view: Ash and Eiji have a stronger bond. Personally, I want to describe their friendship as the “Brotherly friendship” type? I mean Ash did call him “Big brother” a few times. Plus, there weren’t any sexual feelings showcased between them.
Ps: I haven’t read the manga. My point of view is all about the anime series!!!
Ash did want to protect Eiji the most because a few times throughout the series Ash is seen mentioning that “Eiji was the only person to care for him without anything in return“. If you compare it with the people Ash had met or worked with before, it says that Ash had to get raped or get abused or even sleep with people in order to get cared for.
So Eiji didn’t abuse Ash or even raped him for anything. Eiji only thought of Ash quitting this type of lifestyle and start living for himself, which is basically the reason behind his invitation for Ash to come to Japan. To start a new life with a purpose and freedom; and not with all those guns and fighting bullshit.
So, I won’t categorize “Banana Fish” as yaoi or critique the relationship between Ash and Eiji as Boy’s Love. Because, as far as the anime goes, I’m pretty convinced that Ash has a great affection for Eiji who just loved and cared for him from the bottom of his heart.
There goes with my views and opinion about the great debate within the fandom.
Banana Fish is a great action anime with a powerful and deep storyline. Since it deals with the mafia world and about street gangs, the anime is pretty dark with topics such as child-sex trafficking, male prostitution, sexual abuse, and so. But, that shouldn’t stop one to ‘not-watch’ this anime. Please watch it, only then you might know more about what’s happening in the world. I’m not sure if this is what happens in the underground world but who knows?
I would like to give Banana Fish a great 200% likes, 10/10 rating and an A+ star for its a beautiful adaptation. I am planning to read the manga soon.
Click on the links below for your references:
To read the Manga: https://mangarock.com/manga/mrs-serie-23644
To watch the series: https://www5.gogoanime.in/category/banana-fish
That’s it. Now, I need to go redeem myself from the extreme sadness from watching the ending.
Until another time with another hot topic, bYe ByE.