Set in downtown New York in the 1980s, “BANANA FISH” is a lyrical depiction of a hard and bloody coming-of-age struggle between street gangs and the mafia over the mysterious keyword “banana fish. We will explain the appeal of “BANANA FISH” that we hope will reach all manga fans, young and old, male and female.
|What is “BANANA FISH”?
BANANA FISH” is the masterpiece of Mr. Yoshida Akimi, known for “Our Little Sister”, “Kissho Tenjo”, and “Yasha -Yasha-” (all published by Shogakukan). Let’s take a look at what kind of work it is.
■A hot topic in anime adaptation! Akimi Yoshida’s masterpiece, “BANANA FISH
BANANA FISH” was serialized in “Bessatsu Shoujo Comic” for 9 years from 1985 to 1994, and a total of 20 volumes (including short stories) have been published. It is a huge hit with a total circulation of over 12 million copies. Even after the story was completed, it was adapted for the stage in 2005, 2009, and 2012, and was made into an anime in 2018, and has been loved for over 30 years. Originally known to manga fans as an enduring masterpiece, its popularity was rekindled by the 2018 TV anime adaptation, timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Yoshida-sensei’s debut. (Perhaps due to the momentum, an official pilgrimage to New York City was held in 2019. The anime was produced by MAPPA, known for its anime adaptations of “Attack on Titan” (Kodansha) and “Dorohedoro” (Shogakukan), and drew attention for its faithful representation of the original world while changing the setting to modern-day New York.
■The Story of “BANANA FISH”
Ash, who runs a street kids club in downtown New York, is entrusted by a dying gunman with the words “banana fish,” an address, and a locket pendant containing a drug sample.
Bananafish” is a fictional “deadly fish” that appears in the short story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” by the American writer Salinger. It is also a word that Ash’s mentally ill brother, Griffin, sometimes uses. Ash’s brother, Griffin, who is mentally ill, sometimes uses the word “banana fish. Ash thinks so, and decides to pursue the mystery of the “banana fish.
Ash’s path is blocked by Dino Gorzine, the boss of the Corsican Mafia. Dino Gorzine, the boss of the Corsican mafia, not only wants to get his hands on the banana fish, but he also has a plan to bring Ash under his control. Shunichi Ibe, a Japanese cameraman, Eiji Okumura, a journalist and friend of Griffin’s, Max Lobo, and a group of street kids also happen to be there, and the struggle for the Banana Fish intensifies. ……
|Characters of “BANANA FISH
■Ash, Eiji, and the people around him
From the straight-laced boy who lives as a martyr to his own philosophy, to the heel who harbors twisted desires and ambitions, here are some of the characters with rich personalities.
He is a 17-year-old boy with blond hair, green eyes, a beautiful appearance that charms everyone, a superior brain with an IQ of over 180, and overwhelming fighting power. With his charisma and leadership skills, he is the leader of the downtown street kids. He has a cool personality, but his compassionate nature can cause him to lose his mind when his friends are in danger. She is deeply traumatized by being sexually assaulted by the coach of her baseball team when she was seven years old, and by being treated as a male prostitute by Gorzine and his friends. In addition, because she is too talented and beautiful, she has been used and abused in most of her relationships, but when she met Eiji, she learned about free love for the first time.
Eiji’s presence saves the day, but at the same time, he is often the only and greatest weakness that puts him in a tight spot. His real name is Aslan Jade Kahlenreth, where Aslan and Jade mean dawn and jade, respectively. His street name, “Lynx,” means wildcat.
A 19-year-old college student who comes to New York City with photographer Ibe to interview street kids. He has a cheerful and gentle personality, and with a baby face that looks like he is 14 or 15 years old, he easily fits in with the street kids and is loved as someone who makes everyone around him feel at ease. His defenselessness and innocence let Ash’s guard down, and he became the only person he could trust. On the other hand, he is also stubborn and reckless, and sometimes tries to fight for Ash. Although he is not a strong fighter, he becomes Ash’s mental support.
He sees through Ash’s loneliness, which everyone else fears, and thinks of him as someone he wants to protect. Since he is two years older than Ash, he jokingly calls himself “Oniichan,” and the way he plays with Ash is nothing but a comfort. He is a motherly boy.
A photographer visiting New York to cover street kids. Eiji, who was in a slump as a pole vaulter, accompanied him as his assistant. He owes Eiji a debt of gratitude and admires him, as he was the model for the photo that inspired him to become a professional photographer. He is a bit overprotective of Eiji, but he also understands Ash’s loneliness and watches over them with concern.
Former NYPD, current freelance journalist. He was a war buddy of Ash’s brother, Griffin, during the Vietnam era, and was there when he went crazy. He met Ash in prison, and after learning of his relationship with Griffin, they decided to pursue the “Banana Fish” together. Once he and Ash disguised themselves as father and son for the sake of investigation, he jokingly said, “He’s my son,” and began to watch over Ash with the eyes of a father.
A black boy who is one of Ash’s henchmen. Ash trusts him because he is strong for his age and has a good personality, and he is also good friends with Eiji. However, he dies defending Ash in the struggle over “Banana Fish”.
A Chinese-American boy who unites a group of delinquents in Chinatown. He and Ash met in a reformatory and have been best friends ever since. He has an easy-going personality, but is highly trusted by Chinatown. He runs a Chinese restaurant with his sister Mardia, but his cooking skills are not so good. At the beginning of the story, he has a mohawk head, but his trademark is a skinhead and sunglasses. He is captured by Gorzine and given a dose of “banana fish,” which implores him to kill Eiji.
Shin Soo Lin
A young boy who has succeeded Shorter as the boss of Chinatown. He is small and looks to be in his mid-teens, but is trusted by his friends. At first, he hates Ash as Shorter’s enemy, but after he learns the truth, the entire Chinatown starts to cooperate with Ash and his friends, and his feelings for Ash change to awe. He also appears in other works by Yoshida-sensei, such as “Yasha” and “Eve’s Sleep” (both published by Shogakukan).
Lao Yen Tai
A street kid from Chinatown. He is the half-brother of Shin and the best friend of Shorter. Unlike Shin, he doesn’t know the truth behind Shorter’s death, so he continues to harbor hostility and suspicion towards Ash. He becomes even more hostile after Ash kills two of his Chinatown friends who attacked Ash and Eiji on the orders of Gekuryu.
The boss of the African-American team “Black Sabbath”, feared as “Bloody Kane” and “The Black Devil of Harlem”. He is strong and powerful, but has a reasonable personality. He initially takes a neutral stance on the war between Ash and Aurthur (Gorzine), but dislikes Aurthur’s cowardly tactics and joins Ash’s side.
Shorter’s older sister. She runs a Chinese restaurant, Chang Tai, in Chinatown. She serves food to poor street kids, and like Shorter, is loved by the boys. She is the girlfriend of Max’s former colleague, Charlie, a police officer. She is a strong woman who raised Shorter on her own after his parents died, and Max says she would make a good police wife. Unlike Shorter, she is an excellent cook.
The boss of the Corsican Mafia. He was the first person who saw Ash’s talent and kept him around as a male prostitute while giving him a gifted education to become his successor. Later, he adopts Ash and becomes his adoptive father. After Ash’s confrontation with him over the banana fish, he pursues him with an obsession that is a mixture of love and hate. In a way, he is the most single-minded man in the series.
“I’m going to stuff Ash and hang him in my bedroom.” “I’m going to destroy you little by little until you go insane.“
and other sticky witticisms.
A former KGB special forces operative, his real name is Sergei Varishkov. He is the person who taught Ash how to shoot a gun and how to fight. He had retired from the front line and was living a comfortable life in the Caribbean, but was recalled by Gorzine and helped capture Ash. He is far superior to Ash in terms of both his skill with a gun and his fighting ability, and even he says that he is “no match for him.
Formerly a street kid under Ash’s control, he has joined forces with Gorzine and the rest of the Corsican Mafia to fight Ash. He is an ambitious and cowardly man who will stop at nothing to win against Ash. The more he competes with Ash, the more he sees the difference in rank between them, and the more he develops a complex, but he seems to be aware of this complex. Perhaps he is one of the men who are fascinated by Ash.
Eduardo L. Fox
The captain of a French mercenary unit hired by Gorzine to capture Ash. He leads his men, who have both left the French army, to hunt down the street kids in order to flush out Ash. He is skilled in guerrilla warfare and is a sadistic man who does not hesitate to commit acts of intimidation, such as shooting up a store where street kids hang out and leaving a corpse with its internal organs pulled out.
He is the youngest brother of the Li family, which is the head of the Chinese mafia and overseas Chinese. His American name is Eustis. He has a beautiful figure that could be mistaken for a woman. His mother was killed at the hands of his half-brother when he was young, and he is looking for a chance to take revenge on the Li family. She has a twisted sense of sympathy for Ash, who grew up lonely and abused by the adults around her, and at the same time has a strong hatred, akin to jealousy, for Eiji, who is under Ash’s protection. He is skilled in the knowledge of medicinal herbs and poisons, and is one of the people who arrived at the core of “Banana Fish”.
The eldest son of the Li family. As the general of the Li family, he is in charge of the Chinese mafia. Ostensibly, he is the president of the Overseas Chinese Bank. At first he helps Ash, who is hostile to Golzine, but then he makes a deal with Golzine and sends Moon Dragon to Ash.
Second brother of the Li family. He conspired with Wang Long to kidnap Eiji using Shorter and Gekiryu, and then offered Gekiryu and Eiji as hostages to Gorzine’s side. After Wang Long’s death, he succeeded him as the president of the Overseas Chinese Bank, but was crippled by Gekiryu and became his puppet.
■Banana fish researcher and developer
He is a professor of pathology at the University of California and is known as an authority on cancer treatment. When he was a student, he and his brother Abraham accidentally created the prototype of the banana fish when they were generating drugs to earn money. When he learned of the effects of the banana fish, he ordered Abraham to destroy the rest of the drug, but kept it for himself to continue his research.
Together with Alexis, he created the original form of the Banana Fish. He was not as talented as his brother as a scientist, and due to his complex, he sold the Banana Fish he had hidden to Gorzine to improve it as a weapon. He was the one who administered the banana fish to Griffin in Vietnam.
|The charm of “BANANA FISH
It is no exaggeration to say that “BANANA FISH” has so much depth that you can find a new charm every time you read it. Here are five of the most noteworthy points.
■The bond between Ash and Eiji
I think the biggest highlight of this work, or rather the theme that forms the backbone of the entire work, is the bond between Ash and Eiji. The way these two people, who were born and raised completely differently, are drawn to each other with their souls and deepen their friendship is more than just “tear-jerking” or “moving.
Eiji is sensitive to the loneliness that lies deep within Ash, who has grown up without protection from anyone, and tries to be there for him and support him. Ash finds comfort in Eiji for the first time, and tries to protect him.
The reason their bond is so beautiful is because it is not a relationship where one protects and the other is protected. Ash has been given extraordinary beauty and a brilliant mind, but he himself feels burdened and alienated by his talent. Between Ash and Eiji
Are you afraid of me? No way!
In fact, Ash himself must have been afraid of his own monstrosity. And it was Eiji’s “No way!” that drowned out the fear nestled in his heart. was what drowned out his fears.
In fact, Ash himself must have been afraid of his own monstrosity. And it was Eiji’s “No way!” that drowned out the fear nestled in his heart. was what drowned out his fears.
■A character’s way of life in search of freedom
The lives of the characters who fight for their own ego, including Ash, who is in a position to fulfill any ambition but only wants to be free, are also very appealing. As the youngest brother of the prestigious Li family, Gekryu has been taken advantage of by his older brothers, but in order to end the domination of the bloodline, he solves the mystery of the banana fish and outwits them.
I’m fascinated by her toughness, which doesn’t match her pretty appearance! I’m going to finish the role I’ve been given,” said Blanka, who was ruthless and tried to protect Ash in her own way.
We can see his aesthetics in the way he watches over Ash, Gekiryu and the other young people, as if he is overlapping with his past self who lost something important.
■A realistic portrayal of New York City
The New York Public Library, which Ash visits when he wants to be alone, the subway where he fights with Orser, the Staten Island Ferry where Ash tells Eiji about his mother, and other scenes of New York are realistically depicted in this work.
There are many fans who visit New York because of “BANANA FISH”. As security has improved, the downtown area and the subway system have changed, but the library and the Museum of Natural History still look the same.
■Overwhelming reading experience
After finishing reading all the volumes of “BANANA FISH”, most people let out a long sigh and can’t get anything done that day. That’s how overwhelmed they become by the two-year battle over “Banana Fish” and the life of the incomparable boy named Ash Links. Because even the villain leaves a fascinating aftertaste, a day is not enough time to think about the work.
■A number of short stories that further deepen the excitement of the main story.
Volumes 19 to 20 contain short stories that are prequel and postquel to the main story of “BANANA FISH”. ANGEL EYES” depicts the encounter between Ash and Shorter at a boy’s reformatory, and “Garden of Light” features Eiji, who is active in New York as a photographer seven years after the main story, Shin, who has grown up to be a tall and handsome man, and Ibe’s niece, Dawn. There are many episodes that fans of “BANANA FISH” cannot help but read. The past and future of the characters, which were not told in the main story, will further expand the depth of the world of the work.
|Great Scenes from “BANANA FISH” to Read in the Original Story [Spoilers].
We picked up some of the best scenes from “BANANA FISH” that we want to read in the original. Every scene will shake your soul. ……!
■The scene where Eiji jumps over the wall
Eiji used to be a pole vaulter in high school. When Eiji gets caught up in a war with the mafia sent by Gorzine and is trapped in an impasse with Ash and Skip, he uses a water pipe as a pole to jump over a wall. The sight of Eiji jumping over three meters high in the air must have been a symbol of freedom in Ash’s eyes. Afterwards, he tells Eiji, “You’re so lucky… to be able to jump like that.
Eiji’s time as a high jumper can be read in the short story “Fly boy, in the sky” (included in volume 20 of BANANA FISH), which was published before the start of the series, and the encounter between Ibe and Eiji is also depicted here.
Shorter, his best friend, is one of the few people who could be on equal terms with Ash. In the midst of the conflict, he is dosed with banana fish and brainwashed to fear Eiji as a “terror”. Shorter attacks Eiji in front of Ash’s eyes, but with what little reason remains, he begs Ash to “kill me. Then, just as Shorter’s knife is about to swing down on Eiji, Ash fires a bullet at Shorter’s heart.
It was heartbreaking to see Ash, who had never given in to any hardship, cry without being seen.
I wonder how far God (Yoshida-sensei) will test Ash – it’s a sad and famous scene that makes me feel pain just reading it.
■The Leopard in The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Quoting from Hemingway’s short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, Ash talks to Eiji about death. Ash says, “I’m not afraid of death,” and “But I’ve never wanted to die,” but when he thinks about the episode in “Kilimanjaro” where the panther dies after climbing to a height from which there is no turning back, he seems to be comparing himself to the panther. At the same time, it seems to hint at Ash’s fate as he tries to follow his own path while being tossed about by the adults around him. In the midst of the sadness, Eiji’s words, “Humans can change their destiny with wisdom that a panther does not have…and you are not a panther,” are warm and make us realize how lucky we are to have Eiji next to Ash. In addition, the essence of American literature woven into the key words of the story, such as “Banana Fish,” also contributes to the unique and delicate atmosphere of this work.
■Escape from the National Center for Mental Health
Wounded in the fight with Orser, Ash is taken to the National Center for Mental Health by the FBI and is almost used as a guinea pig for the Banana Fish experiment.
It may not be …… because she was blasted by Gorzine, but she attempts to escape with Dr. Dawson, who has been crippled by drugs (Gorzine is the ultimate tsundere in this scene!). ). (Gorzine is the epitome of tsundere in this scene!) The escape from the state-of-the-art security system and the many guards is thrilling! Also, don’t miss Ash’s “sexy scene” which is a stepping stone to escape.
After finally getting out of the facility, Max and Ibe are taken away by security guards by mistake. …… There is also a scene where Ash is too cute as he collapses into a heap.
■Dialogue between Ash and Blanka
As Ash continues to defy Gorzine, Blanca advises him to return to Gorzine. He says that if he takes what Gorzine gives him, he will have all the wealth and power he needs. She also puts the nail in the coffin of her relationship with Eiji, saying, “A rabbit and a wildcat can’t be friends after all.
But Ash refuses, saying that such things are fake. He confesses that he is happier now that he is with Eiji than enjoying what Gorzine can give him. He also asks Blanka not to kill him, without regard for his own danger. We can feel how much happiness Eiji has given to Ash as well as how much he cares for Eiji.
■Attack at the American Museum of Natural History
To save Eiji and his friends from the pursuers of Gekiryu and Gorzine, Ash runs into the American Museum of Natural History, fighting as a decoy himself. Taking advantage of the darkness, he wages a guerrilla war.
His appearance is like that of a feline predator hunting in the dark of night. Ash’s strength and fearlessness, even in a one-to-many situation, is thrilling.
|Review of “BANANA FISH” [Spoiler Alert
■Review of “BANANA FISH” Volume 1
I just reread it before the anime… When I reread this book for the first time in several years, it gave me a different impression than when I first read it. I think it’s because I’ve grown up and started to feel an inexplicable sense of loneliness, and now I deeply understand Ash’s feelings, which are healed by Eiji’s presence. Speaking of manga that change their impression every time I read them, for me it was Osamu Tezuka’s “Firebird”, and the same goes for “BANANA FISH”. It is a manga that I look forward to reading again to see what I will think of it.
Ash is so charming! It made me think about the human way of life. It drew me in and made me a fan of the author.
When I was in high school, everyone in my class used to read it in turn. When I read Akio Yoshida’s manga, it reminds me of my ungrounded, happy days in high school. Ash is my eternal ideal.
I want everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, environment, or sense of value, to read this work. What is the most important thing for human beings to live… The dark, sad, ugly, and sorrowful parts of human beings. It depicts the light and shadow of New York. Now, at the age of 21, I feel very happy to have found this manga.
■Contains an extra chapter! Thoughts on “BANANA FISH” Volumes 19 and 20
I can talk about BANANAFISH all night long without stopping. Everything is shocking. I love it so much, I don’t know what to do. My feelings for Ash are just love! (Volume 19)
It’s a moving story! I can’t read this work without tears. I don’t think there is any hard-boiled action manga that can surpass this work.
Ash’s loneliness hidden behind his strength, Eiji being the only one who can touch Ash’s soul, and the bond between the two that makes you want to call it “fate”. The hard stage of the battle over the drug “Banana Fish” enhances the delicate and beautiful theme of the story.
You can enjoy the fineness of a shoujo manga and the boldness of a seinen manga at the same time. You can’t call yourself a manga fan without reading this one!