Banana Fish – Ep. 21

Yep, still not done with Banana Fish. The Winter 2019 premieres have kept me busy so it’s only until now, where the influx dies down, that I’m finally back. I really wish I was covering this show as it aired but there’s no use fretting over that. At least I’m this far in.

Boy does this show ebb and flow in terms of quality. There’s definitely been a string of fantastic episodes here and there and even when the show is at its worst, there is still something to like. It’s just a very bumpy road is hat I’m trying to say. If this is how the manga plays out, I frankly would’ve liked to see the anime smooth out those rough patches though I get that change is a no-no word to some viewers. 

Did we really need yet another new character introduced in Banana Fish? I’m still trying to wrap my head around the point of Lao. I suppose hiring ex-military is the most natural course of action for Golzine to take but this is still Episode 21 out of 24. I really don’t need Colonel Foxx as yet another bad guy. Blanca was perfectly fine. Hell, I wish we got to see more of him trying to appeal to Yut-Lung’s humanity instead of cartoony mercenaries. 

Nothing is more contrived in this episode than the stuff with Max and Jessica, however. I figured Golzine would try to kill Max since he is getting very close to exposing his crimes to the public. Whether or not Max might die though is hard to say because now we have Jessica to worry about as well. Yeah, remember her? It’s been over a dozen episodes since we last her but here she is, at NYC, looking for Max? Why? I have no idea. It’s a dumb decision, no matter how you look at it, especially since Jessica left her and Max’s son with her sister. And goddamn it, she just had to run off to rescue Max during the big shootout at the end. I’m okay with giving Max an emotional ending of some kind but this is not the best way to set it up.

Some other bones I have to pick with:

  • That whole gay bar scene is really indicative of the manga’s age. Surely, the staff at MAPPA could’ve updated the show to be more with the times and people wouldn’t bat an eye. Why not, seeing as how the time period got bumped to the 2010s anyway.
  • Ash just so happens to have a fingerprint scanner app on his phone and the Fly (yeah, remember him?) can use that to find intel? Okay…
  • What happened to Robert, Max’s friend? The man got tortured by Foxx’s men, rescued by Ash…and then that’s that. Did he die? Did Ash take him to the hospital or something? What happened?
  • Eiji helping Ash step into Foxx’s shoes to formulate a counterattack was nice…until said counterattack fails anyway. So much for that.

But, as it seems to be the case, there are some standout moments in this episode. I particularly really loved the scene where Ash confronts one of the men who raped him to gain some leverage over Golzine. Both the direction and Yuuma Uchida’s performance really had me thinking he was going to pull the trigger until Max helped him calm down. The following scene may even be better when Ash advises only using pictures of him to incriminate Golzine and Max decides to burn the pictures. Sure, Ash’s reasoning is sound but Max offered an equally valid point that he should stop feeling shackled by all the terrible things that’s happened to him in his life.

Even though it’s been played off as a recurring joke, I think Max really did become a sort of father figure to Ash. The man has stuck by to help Ash through thick and thin, accepted Ash’s decisions for what they are, and even offered some profound advice in the end. If Max really does die next episode, his presence will sorely be missed.

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