I have been warming up to Banana Fish as of late. A lot of that naturally owes to what is actually happening onscreen; we seem to be past set-up and now the real war begins. Then again, I never thought Banana Fish‘s issues were conceptual in nature. Rather, it all boils back to pacing again. I obviously still don’t know how these last two episodes adapt the manga but if we really did just sat through two volumes worth of material, this anime did a better job of hiding it. Give the plot credit, there’s lately only been one major plot at a time Ash suffering the biggest case of heartbreak yet and now, Ash escaping with all his wrathful might. There’s other stuff going on but for once, they actually feel like subplots.
Part of me wonders if this is like what Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood went through — breezing through the first couple of volumes so that it can spend a long remainder for the real meat of the story. If that is the case with Banana Fish though, I still question how well the execution went. FMA was a 108 chapter epic given 64 episodes so the first 14 burning through source material wasn’t a huge issue. And in the end, you still got one of the best anime of all time. Banana Fish was 110 chapters, only has 24 episodes for adaptation, and it’s almost halfway done already. However this product fares in the long run, it’s been definitely been cutting things close
But let’s talk about the actual episode here. Was Ash escaping and going commando on Dino’s men over the top? Yes but considering the events of last episode, fuck it. We all could needed something like this. Let the man be a badass for once, even as he still mourns.
I’m particularly glad to see Abraham get the axe here though that’s mainly because he was never a good villain to begin with. With such little substance to his character, there was only so much left to do with him. Clearly, the makers of Banana Fish thought so since they decide to kill him off during Ash’s revenge spree. Plus, I do got to hand it to this anime: it did follow its first tragic death with its first satisfying one. Ash didn’t hold back at all.
A lot of Ash’s escape sure owes to the Chinese. You, of course, have Sing rallying the Chinatown gangsters to help Ash’s men but to my surprise, Yue-Lung also offers some assistance. Ultimately, this proves to be a case of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Sing simply wanted to rescue Shorter and once news of the latter’s death spreads, he immediately turns against Ash. I don’t know how permanent that decision is though since Sing doesn’t know Shorter was drugged with Banana Fish, let alone know what the drug is. Not that he would’ve gotten an explanation though; Ash isn’t the mood to talk and he blames himself for Shorter’s death anyway.
Yue-Lung meanwhile has quite the ulterior motive for helping Ash. Perhaps his brothers want the lynx to cause enough damage on Dino’s forces so that they can reap the benefits. Then again, Yue-Lung also detests his brothers and Ash has plenty of room with his list of people he wants to kill. Hell, Ash even adds Yue-Lung to said list in this very episode. Perhaps the assassin is aiming to have someone defeat his brothers. If that’s the case, he chose quite the candidate.
Last week, I thought for sure that now would be where the world of crime hardens Eiji and you kind of see that happening here. He’s not nearly as scared at the sight of gunfire and he willingly agrees to leave with Ash’s men so that Ash can get revenge without someone to protect. I imagine Eiji is here to stay but he seems to have accepted he’s out of his league more now. Interestingly though, Ash doesn’t hand a gun over Eiji in this firefight and he instead protects his friend at all costs. It’s a stark contrast to an action a few episodes ago where Ash gives a gun to Eiji so that the latter can take care of himself. To me, it’s less Ash saying his friend is useless but rather that he is worth protecting. With Shorter gone, he really just has Eiji left as his closest friend and knowing that, he’ll do whatever it takes to hold onto that bond for as long as possible.
Obviously, there’s some more romantic subtext to their relationship. It’s hard not to think that way when you have Eiji telling Ash he’ll wait for him to come back even if it takes forever. I won’t lie, I was watching that scene with me internally screaming “Oh just, kiss again already!” many times. Actually, this conversation feels much more intimate than that kiss many episodes ago. Whereas that was one friend asking another for a favor in way many will easily misunderstand, this scene really did make you think these two men are close. They’ve come a long way since they first met and even if the romance doesn’t pan out, it’s still a very good impression to make in a bond this important.
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