Yes, I almost forgot to check Banana Fish‘s thirteenth episode. Between the week long break the show took and all the new shows premiering this Fall season, it just sort of happened. Oh well, better late than never and I’ll admit: this episode was very entertaining.
I have found Banana Fish‘s pacing at its best when there’s less multitasking happening and that is very much the key to this episode’s success. It’s squarely dedicated to the climatic duel between Ash and Arthur. Admittedly, I think this episode could’ve made a stronger impact if Arthur was a much more interesting villain. There’s some last minute efforts here towards giving him pathos but in the end, I just think he’s a cartoonishly bloodthirsty gangster severely outclassed by Golzine or Yue-Lung. Also, that anyone expected Arthur to play fair in the slightest sense is by far the funniest joke this anime has told so far. Of course he was going to cheat although I do like that he ultimately has to play fair after all his tricks fail miserably.
Even so, the fight in the subway is very thrilling, probably my favorite fight scene in the series so far even. It is over the top but let’s not kid ourselves: Ash is a legitimate badass here with how quickly he eliminates Arthur’s men. Besides, this kind of action just seems part for the course with Banana Fish and it does come across as an action scene someone in the 80s would’ve come up with.
I was a little thrown off by the sudden flashback where Ash recounts to Eiji the story of the frozen leopard on Mt. Kilimanjaro (a Hemingway reference and I think a real thing too) but it does serve as a great metaphor for Ash’s resolve. What was that leopard doing so high up there? Was it legitimately lost or was there something at the top it was looking for? It really makes you think about how Ash feels; has he been doing this because he knows nothing outside the world of crime or is he hoping there’s a better life ahead for him?
So big surprise: Eiji doesn’t go to Japan. Shocking, I know. Frankly, it would’ve been really funny if Banana Fish had cut to Ibe just waiting at the airport all confused. Eiji appearing at the end has an interesting effect on the action. For a brief moment, it looks like Ash pauses which gives Arthur an opening but shortly after, Ash swiftly kills his opponent. It seems that Eiji’s presence remains both a pro and a con for Ash. On one hand, it gives the latter strength but on the other hand, Ash really doesn’t want Eiji to see him as a killer.
With Arthur gone, it’s really just Golzine and maybe the Lees left to fight. Somewhat hopeful is that it seems that Ash has gained Cain and possibly Sing as allies. Sing moderating the duel did surprise me considering Shorter’s death but I guess seeing whatever Ash is up to does matter. Besides, it’s not like he’d want to root for Arthur to begin with. Time will tell where his allegiance will lie. Time will also tell what is going to happen next since it looks like Ash is getting sent to prison again and with Eiji no less.
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