Beginning in the Summer 2018 anime season and ending in December of the same year Banana Fish is by far my favorite anime of 2018 and this is coming from a yaoi and boys love fan who was spoiled within her genre of choice this year, but what is it about Banana Fish that had me hooked right from the very beginning?
Based on the manga of the same name by Akimi Yoshida, Banana Fish is not a series for everyone. In fact, with a lot of the themes the series explores that will be downright triggering and upsetting to a lot of people and if you need your story to have a happy ending… well you really really need to look elsewhere. I will be going into the ending of Banana Fish in a future post and I want this post to be an overall review of the series and to show whether or not this will be a series for you to watch or not.
The story of Banana Fish begins with one question. What is Banana Fish? It seems to be something everyone wants to know and some very dangerous people including a powerful mob boss by the name of Papa Dino, are after the answer that just happened to literally fall into the lap of a local gang leader. Ash Lynx is a handsome young man with a dark past, a past that connects him to the dangerous men after Banana Fish. Eiji Okumura is a young man very naive to the dangers of the world and has come to New York on a job with a journalist who wants to interview local gang leaders for an article. When their paths cross it is the beginning of a powerful and dangerous journey for both of them. Ash is running from a past he would rather forget and Eiji who was lacking any direction in his life has found a friend in Ash he wants to protect.
Now reading that summary I can imagine a lot of you are thinking, this sounds like an interesting plot for a boys love series. In fact, the manga is considered by many as a very influential work within the genre and is frequently categorized as such. However, if you come into this series expecting a romance story you are going to be very disappointed.
Throughout the series yes we a see a growing friendship and bond between Ash and Eiji but at no point does it go beyond just that, a deep friendship. At best I would call it borderline boys love but it just does not completely cross that romantic line enough for me to consider it part of the genre, this is just my personal opinion though. Many of the themes explored within the series can be found within boys love and these are many of the darker themes from within the genre.
Child abuse and pedophilia are the darkest themes explored within the series and this is why I say the series is not for everyone. There a many scenes throughout the series where characters just casually talk about these subjects and to those who are sensitive to such issues will find many of the over arching themes within the story very uncomfortable. That being said I want to applaud the series for it’s realistic look at victims of this kind of abuse especially when it comes to one of the lead characters.
The overarching mystery of what is Banana Fish will hook you in but it is the amazing character growth that happens throughout the series that will keep you hooked, much like Game of Thrones however do not get too attached to the characters because not everyone will make it to the end and speaking of endings keep a look out for next post about Banana Fish where I write about why the ending to the series was perfect for the story it has told.