Have you ever sat and watched a show and thought to yourself on multiple occasions ‘This can’t end well’, but still be upset when it doesn’t end well? Well that was me with Banana Fish. I’ve thought and said multiple times that I didn’t believe there was a happy ending in sight for Ash and Eiji, but still somehow I held out hope. I hoped with all of my heart that Ash would get to leave this world of violence and blood behind and go to Japan with Eiji and they could have their happy ending.
I knew it was a foolish hope, even early in the episode I started looking for other reasons to be happy because I knew the ending would have me in tears. So as the ending did play out and I was left sobbing in front of my computer screen, I kept vaguely muttering to myself.
“Max and Jessica are getting remarried.”
Because it was the happiest thought I could find in the episode.
We left off with Papa Dino being shot by the colonel and having everything taken from him. Though, he underestimates two very important things. First, like everyone else. He underestimates Ash. Second, he underestimates the sheer amount of spite that Dino has for him. I don’t really know how I feel about where they went with Dino in this last episode, he’s not really the kind of character you can redeem in any way/shape or form.
There was no joy in knowing that he was the one who saved Ash. It doesn’t bring forgiveness, watching him fall into a pit of flames as if falling down into hell wasn’t as satisfying as it should’ve been though.
Sing and Blanca’s antics were the other light point in this episode. Watching Blanca try to get out of the heating duct and Sing pulling on his face to tug him out was worth a good chuckle.
With Dino dead, the colonel dead and the information about Banana Fish burned in the explosion. Things begin to even out, Sing and Ash decide not to fight and tensions are eased. Eiji is to go back to Japan and Ash thinks it’s best not to see him again. Ultimately, they live in different worlds and Eiji doesn’t belong in this blood soaked world.
Sing delivers a letter to Ash from Eiji and in it is a letter and a plane ticket to Japan. As he begins running to the airport to meet with Eiji and see him, he’s stabbed by Lao, he obviously shoots him in revenge but it’s too late. He moves back to the library and reads the remainder of the letter as he slowly dies there.
I’m gonna level with you, I started sobbing long before Ash was stabbed. Because deep down I knew, I knew he wouldn’t be able to see Eiji again. I knew in my gut that there was no happy ending for these two and i’ve known it since I started watching the series and yet, I sobbed. Again, as I type this I am tearing up because I wanted Ash to make it to the airport. I wanted him to board that plane and depart for a better life or at the very least, I wanted him to see Eiji one last time.
“My soul is always with you.”
Those are the last words that Eiji wrote to Ash. No matter what, even through his death and even if Eiji never finds out and never returns to the US. The time they spent together, the time they loved each other is more precious then anything. AH now i’m crying again!
The other small point of light and a small joke to myself I can take from this episode is the relationship between Yut-Lung and Sing. Though Sing has ever right to kill Yut-Lung, he doesn’t. Instead, he is determined to give Yut-Lung something to live for. Even if that thing he needs to live for is helping clean up the mess he made of Chinatown during his revenge plot.
They argue like a married couple and I can only think to myself that perhaps, perhaps Sing is the person to care about him that Yut-Lung needs in his life and he will no longer be bitter at Ash for his relationship with Eiji.
Oh dear lord, what do I think about Banana Fish? Overall, it’s a good story. It has it’s storytelling hiccups for sure. The ending was a hot mess with the last minute focus of the major villain away from Papa Dino and while I am vaguely happy with how Yut-Lung’s arc concluded I feel like he just sort of faded from the story in an awkward way.
Banana Fish’s greatest strength lied in it’s main couple and it’s two main characters Ash and Eiji. Not to say there was anything wrong with the supporting cast but they were certainly the strongest characters in the series. Honestly, I didn’t even know Banana Fish was a boys-love story when I picked it up to cover it and if I had of never found out? I think I still would of ended up shipping Ash and Eiji, because the chemistry is just there.
They are two characters who click incredibly well and compliment each other nicely.
The over-arcing plot is interesting enough and it does create a lot of high tension moments and a lot of action scenes. This show isn’t for the faint of heart, I think anyone squeamish got rooted out in the early episodes. There is a lot of blood, a lot of talk of rape and pedophila and it is completely unabashed in covering such sensitive topics. When you look at the time this was originally written, it’s interesting to see such things brought up in the first place. It’s not something we talked about in the 80’s, in particular the rape of boys.
The anime did a decent job of trying to introduce modern concepts like computers, hacking, smart phones and an entirely different war into the plot to bring it up to date.
The animation has been something I enjoyed since the first week, it has a very distinct style to it that made it feel both older and modern. So I got that feel that it was a story from the 80’s without any of the clunky coloring that came with anime back then.
The opening and ending music was fantastic in both cours and the background music was always on point. A solid soundtrack all around.
Honestly, aside from some clunky writing near the end and the tendency the show had to exhibit some severe mood whiplash in particular during the middle of the season it’s hard to find anything to complain about in this show. Despite the fact that the wounds are still fresh and I have broken down crying twice just while writing this review, i’m already offering to rewatch the series with a friend of mine just to see if there are things I missed in my first viewing.
At the end of the day, I think Banana Fish deserves a solid 8/10. Now excuse me, I need to go get some tissues.