When I have to describe the nature of Ash and Eiji’s relationship in just a couple of words, what usually comes to mind is “platonic romance.” It might sound like a silly contradiction, but stay with me.
In some ways, Ash and Eiji are unlike anything I’ve seen. In others, they remind of romantic tropes I’ve seen in my years watching and reading (hetero) romances. Banana Fish is a notable queer shojo classic, however–not unlike other queer works–its male leads can be both victims and a product of the time in which they were conceived.
Banana Fish isn’t always the best at handling its sexual abuse and sexuality. It can fall on pretty emotionally loaded tropes–like the explicitly gay characters being abusers and predators, not to mention the “gay because abused” dog whistles. So things like the main character’s sexualities can be a delicate, messy and complicated discussion. Still, despite those shortcomings, Ash and Eiji’s relationship remains remarkably touching… and notably romantic. Continue reading “More than Friends, More than Lovers: Exploring Ash and Eiji’s Love”