So Far On - Banana Fish Review Episode 1 to 10
The upcoming of this anime is the pinnacle of the type of plot twists and genres that it melds together to be a smash hit (for the most part). Explore Banana Fish and see if the anime is your type of blend.
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers and it is an opinion or theory.
About The Anime:
Banana Fish is a manga that was published back in the 1980s by Akimi Yoshida. The story is about gang rivalries, a mysterious drug, some homosexuality (not sure how else to word it), and an adventure of a young man accepting himself (if you think about it that way, because the main character, Ash, seems to become fond of his friend).
Here is a trailer, so you get an idea:
How I'll Try Reviewing Each Part Collectively:
Instead of going through each episode separately, I will cut them into sections in which I think would be necessary for the story. They would represent like mini-plots of the story that contribute to the bigger picture of the story.
Later on in the review, I will also share my own view in simple words and tie it with reality itself.
Right at the beginning of the anime, we already see the scene where a man shoots up his teammates and utters the words, "Banana Fish", which already clues you in on a few things it could be. However, it is easily known to be a drug, since the guy, who is named Griffin, is seen mentally impaired as seen later on in the show.
So again, in the beginning, we then see another guy who our main character so happens to be nearby walking in an alleyway... The guy is dying and tells him an address, which should have been a clue these characters would have searched for after doing all these other things. This whole first episode reveals all the characters we will find important to the story.
In the second episode above, we are given a foreshadowing, and thus we can expect Ash to fight the boss that raised him. However, we still know little about his past, and as the story goes on in the anime, we are revealed bits until it starts to make sense.
Now the arrival of our innocent male character has arrived. He helps Ash's character development and makes the story interesting. If he wasn't there we wouldn't have had a complete excuse for one of Ash's key weakness, which is protecting the live's of others (an overused but simple trait for every badass type of character).
Shortly after the introduction of Eiji, which is the innocent male character, he already gets dragged into the gang skirmishes and witnesses so many people getting shot firsthand.
The fact that everyone except for Eiji gets killed is so awkward, especially early on in the anime, which is definitely a signal of how important of a role he is playing in the show. Eiji, himself is one of the main factors for the progressing story later on, as he gets kidnapped.
So above, I thought this Jenkins guy would be a big player for the show, but we don't even see him ever again... Maybe for some minor things, but there was zero type of detective work in this anime, just brutal do this, get it done, and move on.
Reflection In Jail, Like What It's Meant to Do:
In the following episode, our main character is framed for a fake murder in the previous episode upon chasing down the guy that killed his best friend Skip (or Skipper).
Here, is where Ash shows more of his true character, and we learn more about how he grew up and the environment he had to live in. His childhood was rough, violent, and he learned how to survive on his own (that's real life with zero guidance). He did have guidance from the Golzines', which is the boss of the gang he was raised in.
We are then introduced to another character, Max, who we later find out to be friends with Griffin, which is Ash's older brother. Both Max and Griffin were comrades and friends in the army, fighting in Iraq (iirc).
These scenes aren't too vital to the show's story, but it gives us more reason and relatability to each character in a sense of friendship. When your friend has a friend that could potentially also be your friend, then you have a stronger friendship. The same happens here, and Ash finds the truth about his brother from him (on what exactly happened).
Later, they are both freed from jail, and already, Ash and his friends try ending Golzine's whole mob career by shooting him on a truck.
The Scattering Adventure:
For some reason, so many things happened the way it happened, when you know the story could have just ended sooner if everyone actually stayed out of other people's business.
However, Ash was very determined to solve the mystery and that's why we end up with many characters dying because of being taken a hostage (which is the only reason anyone dies in this anime, really). Golzine is literally playing cat and mouse with Ash.
After the failed attempt in the above episode, which is episode six, they later have to leave town because they were huge targets now. However, I still do not understand why they didn't just stay on their own turf with the protection of their combined groups of Shorter and Ash. They just had to leave, which probably was the only choice if they had driven back since they got off on a dock.
The story now is in a weird position, as so our main character decides to return home? This was surprising as we got to find out that his parent is still around, but doesn't really care for his own son. This is a great example of bad parenting in action for you reap what you sow. I kind of got confused at this part because it didn't really connect that well with how Ash fell into Golzine's gang while going through his childhood with his father (or I missed it or probably forgot). I wish the author took a different direction at this part and instead had Ash and the other's retreat to a surprise hideout, learn more about the different gang groups, and then travel to California.
So then we see the father and a lady... She is introduced in the episode and already dead: nothing but an emotionless collateral.
The only good thing about this part of the show is at least we know Ash and his father found closure with each other. His father also gave him his blessing, which should mean a lot, but the show doesn't exemplify any of it after he leaves (really kind of pointless).
Now that our main character is at the drug maker's house, why on Earth didn't they just make an antidote on the spot or try to salvage data before anything else? Beats me...
Now, this part of the story is weak. Shorter still could have told Ash during many of the moments they were alone or secretly hint about this short-lived betrayal. Shorter could of also have beat the other guy, who is Yut-Lung Lee, and they didn't have to separate from each other at all... The way it was set-up was coincidentally so perfect, that we get a forced down plot at this point because of the character's themselves, and for some reason, all of their backstories are just related one way or another (in a bad way).
In episode 10, the gang with the help of the Chinese free Ash and his friends from Golzine's grasp... The action in this episode was intense and this was a huge turning point for the story because Shorter was actually a meaningful death.
Poor Shorter... This was a really bad, yet awkward confrontation since (by the above named, Sing Soo-Ling) we know that Ash would easily handle things like this, but to see his friend dead and mutilated is much worse and has a greater impact. If only the Chinese gang (later on in the manga, not in the anime yet), knew the truth sooner (like seriously? how would you be mad at someone that HAD no other alternatives to kill their best friend who was given a drug that turned him into a monster?). If you have been in a gang, you would know that it's a tough life and stuff happens... Never hold grudges against people, it's not healthy (mentally).
At least Ash gave his friend a cremation ceremony in the lab.
What I Think So Far:
The anime is planned to be 24 episodes, and I'm enjoying the show so far. Of course, it isn't the best show, but the undermining of the government and how Golzine is trying to be the number one power of the market of this "Banana Fish", ties well with what normal speculation of whistle-blowers in today's society could be like. Naturally, we get the harsh reality of it through this anime, where people die, fake news, and a magical facade of the true intentions of what Ash is really thinking.
How the story is right now, and since the manga is already complete, you could just read and know what will happen next. So in spite of that, the show could have done a better job, by being a little bit more complex in the plot, but decided to go with the: I say this, do this, or be the surprised type of drive. This means that the foreshadowing was exceptionally in use so that readers and viewers wouldn't get lost in all the mayhem happening.
The anime does have its moments, but the main reason to watch it is for the action and thrill (not much the story).
Although this review was kind of scattered all over, I would rate this anime a 7/10 so far. I would suggest this anime to veteran watchers and those interested in an anime that challenges government secrecy, the role of mobs, homosexuality, and a good action-thriller anime.
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