For the full introduction (and explanations) please refer to Part I. Since this focuses on the 1er cour of the anime, spoilers (and any sort of speculation on big events) were omitted. Some answers were slightly edited for clarity (mostly just notable typos).
The Fans (#16-#30)
ct: 20 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.
Myrviell: 20 years old, Brazil. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & male. Has read the manga.
Ri: 16 years old, U.K. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.
Seba: 23 years old, Saudi Arabia. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.
Patricia: 20 years old, Canada. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.
Jewels: 20 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.
Christine: 21 years old, U.S. Identifies as female. Has read the manga.
Lynx: 17 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & male. Has read the manga.
LIS: 30 years old, Netherlands. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.
Kaylee: 20 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & Non-binary. Has read the manga.
はん: 19 years old, Saudi Arabia. Identifies as female. Anime only.
Lonefujoshi: 25 years old, India. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.
Daniella: 22 years old, Hungary. Identifies as female. Has read the manga.
Lina: 17 years old, Sweden. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.
Teddy: 22 years old, Mexico. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.
Why are you watching this show?
ct: Started watching because I was curious about what Banana Fish was.
Myrviell: It’s nice to see something with LGBT characters that isn’t focused on them being LGBT.
Ri: Originally out of curiosity, I had heard a lot about it on my tumblr dash and twitter timeline. Originally I dismissed it as fanservice type show like Free! but the more I heard of it the more curious I became. I eventually checked it out and it was totally different to what I thought. Curious about what might happen next I continued watching.
Seba: Because it’s interesting and sad I’ve never seen an anime contain such an amazing idea.
Patricia: I saw it everywhere so I decided to watch it. But I learned that it has gangs and male love interests which drew me to it.
Jewels: I like the characters’ relationships and the art
Christine: I became OBSESSED with the manga last year and now I’m obsessed with the anime too.
Lynx: I initially started watching it after I saw a few posts about it on a discourse blog on Tumblr.
LIS: Queer, pulpy storytelling in the most delicious way.
Kaylee: I started it after seeing a gif on tumblr.
はん: The story is very interesting and new.
Lonefujoshi: The manga was one of a kind shoujo, so went to watch the anime but I still prefer manga as the pacing is very fast (my opinion, many seem to like the anime so each to his own).
Daniella: The story is exciting even though it’s painful sometimes, the art, the music… I can’t really describe it’s just so good.
Lina: As a fan of the manga I want to see my favorite series adapted into a full-fledged anime.
Teddy: It has topics which not a lot of anime get involved with and the plot looked kinda dark so I appreciate that in a good show.
What’s your favorite thing about this show?
ct: The characters.
Myrviell: Ash and Eiji.
Ri: Mainly the two main characters, Ash and Eiji. Both as individuals, and their dynamic.
Seba: The OST, Ash and Max, the mafia thing.
Patricia: Ash and Eiji’s love story.
Jewels: How well written the characters’ relationships are with one another.
Lynx: My favourite things about it are the plot, the characters, and the art.
LIS: See (question) above.
Kaylee: The plot, the twists and turns along the way.
はん: It’s not only fan service, it’s so deep and that’s very unique and I love gay stuff.
Lonefujoshi: Ash and Eiji.
Daniella: Everything. Can’t really choose.
Lina: The color scheme.
Teddy: The cruel sometimes it gets but it’s undoubtedly realistic.
What’s your less favorite?
ct: Character death.
Myrviell: The fact that all the sex scenes were rape.
Ri: The way sexual abuse is handled. Whilst always shown as bad and traumatic, it definitely has a lot of room for improvement.
Seba: Rape rape rape rape.
Patricia: Everything that Ash had to go through.
Jewels: The violence.
LIS: Rape is brought up quite a lot.
Kaylee: Since it’s an anime it doesn’t explain things like the manga does.
Lonefujoshi: Pacing and some places despite being animated lack the finesse of the manga expressions.
Lina: As of the time, the pace.
Teddy: Lol I don’t think I dislike anything.
Lynx: The pacing, definitely.
Do you have any feelings about the time change? (modernization)
ct: None. I think it’s a nice change.
Myrviell: It’s great.
Ri: Two things: There are some plotlines that would have worked better in the 80s. To give an example the reason for the US’ involvement with banana fish was originally to do with their paranoia with communism but has been changed to the middle east which was a needed change but, unless they’ve done a lot of research into the political climate, is incredibly risky.
The second thing is the attitude to homosexuality. Whilst those attitudes make sense in the 80s setting, they don’t make as much sense in the modern day version. For example Shorter’s line in episode 1 “He’s vindictive, and gay” when what he’s saying is more along the lines of “predator” as opposed to “gay.” It’s not the best example but it’s the only one I could think of off the top of my head.
Patricia: I think it was a good call. People of our generation could relate to it more.
Christine: Everything about the 80s was better! I know I’m biased because I read the manga fist, and the new character designs are great (I mean LOOK at how CUTE Eiji is). However I just feel like it can never truly be separated from the 80s, and I find myself missing the feathery hair and the mom jeans as I watch the show.
Lynx: Yes. I feel that the time change makes a lot of things sketchy, it leaves too much to the imagination and changes the way it is interpreted.
LIS: It works surprisingly well for me.
Kaylee: No, I like the modern feel on an old classic.
はん: Yes, it feels like more classic because it’s based on an old manga which is so cool.
Lonefujoshi: Yes I still wish they went with the 80’s theme, though many have opinions saying the political views and some racist elements don’t seem to make any sense, but still I would like to visit the 80’s NY and the gang warfare, this is story that piqued my interest and also they could have gone with the Megalobox setting.
Daniella: It’s pretty interesting, I like it.
Lina: I like it.
Teddy: No, it’s fine.
What do you think of Ash’s character? What do you like the most about him?
ct: He’s willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his gang and he’s not heartless.
Myrviell: He suffered a lot but still is a very nice person. I like the way that he smiles when talking to Eiji.
Ri: I like his character, I think it’s very complex. Not necessarily realist that’s for sure but definitely a multilayered character. The fact that he is so multilayered and resilient is part of the appeal. He’s tough and fits the whole “bad boy stereotype” but he’s still flawed and has a vulnerable and soft side that we rarely see with characters like him.
Seba: I love him so so much, I actually relate to him. (…)
Patricia: I think his character is written well. He has so much personality and secrets about him that it’s intriguing to watch. I like how his personality changes around Eiji. He goes from a hardcore gang boss to a soft, innocent teenager who seems like he’s living a normal life.
Jewels: I love how protective of his friends he is.
Christine: My favorite Ash is Ash when he’s around Eiji. I love his character as a whole, he’s so smart and so caring but so deeply troubled. I love all of the different sides he has. (…)
Lynx: Ash’s character is one I can relate to a lot. What I like most about Ash is the fact that he did not give up, despite the fact that he may have wanted to somewhere along the line.
LIS: Like him. A fascinating mix of toughness and gentleness underneath.
Kaylee: I think he is an extremely strong and complex character who’s faced hardships and yet doesn’t let that get him down. He keeps pushing on.
はん: He is so strong and smart, dependable leader. He’s almost perfect but I don’t like his very dramatic side.
Lonefujoshi: Innocence stolen from a cute boy but despite all the crap he went through, he rose to be a gang leader with so much charisma.
Daniella: Why he had to grow up fast & sometimes it feels like he’s older than Eiji, he’s still just a 17 y/o teenager. Let that boi be happy.
Lina: He is a very pure character that’s hard to dislike. I admire his personality towards the people closest to him despite what he’s been through.
Teddy: He struggles with his past but it won’t burden anyone with that, he cares a lot about his friends.
How do you feel about Ash’s abuse and trauma? How do you feel about the way the show is handling it thus far?
ct: I think the show is handling it well. With Ash’s abuse and trauma, it’s so easy to use it as some sort of twisted trope to induce pain porn. But with the way the characters are written and developed, the audience (not that any normal human being wouldn’t think so but) understands the gravity and importance of not glorifying his trauma and past.
Myrviell: He is handling it very well, Eiji helps him a lot with this.
Ri: Ash’s trauma and abuse is a difficult thing to talk about. It’s not been handled or portrayed well but at least they are showing his abuse to be abuse and not overly sexualized like a lot of animes do. The show sometimes goes over the top with sexual themes (like the fact that literally everyone and their mothers were catcalling him and harassing him when he was in prison) and it can feel incredibly unrealistic.
Seba: The show is going good and I feel so bad for him but he is a strong and smart boy, he handled his situation in a beautiful way.
Patricia: It’s upsetting to know what Ash has gone through. Sometimes hearing it takes a toll on me. I think the show is handling it extremely well. It’s raw and it’s real. It’s not sugarcoated.
Jewels: I hate that Ash had to go through what he did. I think the show is handling it well and isn’t romanticizing it.
Christine: Oh yikes. Its a pretty rough subject but I think it’s handled pretty well so far. It’s definitely hard to watch sometimes though, like when that shitty cop used it against him. My biggest issue is when they confuse the word ‘pedophile’ with ‘gay’.
Lynx: I feel like the show handles Ash’s trauma slightly.. Differently than the manga. In the manga, Ash’s trauma is one that is stated bluntly though the anime glosses it over and it almost portrays it as shameful, it seems.
LIS: The amount of sexual abuse heaped on him sometimes unsettles me, but the story handles it okay.
Kaylee: I think the show is handling it pretty well. I think they display not just in Ash but in all the characters the feelings and after effects of abuse and trauma.
はん: They were so honest when they showed his past and that helped us understand the situation.
Lonefujoshi: If one wants to know what is life for a boy who was sold into prostitution for looks then Akimi Yoshida’s manga is the best, Ash talks about sensitive issues straight to the face which very few point it out. So I’d say the anime is executing fine but not as much as manga, maybe the time constraint? Idk but the anime seriously could do more.
Daniella: Ash had/has to go through so much shit. I don’t think the show truly gives it back like: “ok this happened but anyway.” Does this make sense?
Lina: It makes me suffer along with him. I think they (at least currently) convey the trauma and pain such abuse can bring and I’m glad they don’t normalize it or romanticize it.
Teddy: I think it’s just enough to explain the situation, I think it’s well balanced I guess.
How do you feel about how the show is portraying Ash and Eiji’s relationship thus far?
ct: In my opinion, they’re doing a good job. It’s portrayed in a way that the nature of their relationship is almost ambiguous, but it gives a certain aspect to the story as a whole, without taking away from the plot.
Myrviell: This is so good, but I hope it evolves in the Future, I really want something romantic.
Ri: The show is sticking very close to the manga especially with their relationship and, so far, they’re doing so well. Other than cutting out Eiji’s forever line, they’ve made sure to show as much as they can, even scenes that are not necessary in anyway to the plot and they could have been easily cut out. I’m very happy they are showcasing their relationship in an emotional way and not a fanservice-y way.
Seba: Great but I need to show them how they really they understand each other better.
Patricia: It’s amazing honestly. I think it’s perfect. It’s at a point where you know how they feel about each other (which is the most important part in my opinion) but doesn’t push unnecessary sexual feelings. With what Ash has gone through, it wouldn’t be necessary. Eiji is giving him consensual love and that’s what Ash needs right now.
Jewels: I feel like their relationship is real? It doesn’t feel stale and dry.
Christine: Really good! Honestly better than the manga, it feels more real. I love how they take the time to put in little details like the rainbows or their blushes. I’m so happy the show is taking their relationship seriously!
Lynx: Ash and Eiji’s relationship is perhaps one of the closest and most tight-knit one, full of joking around and seriousness, but the anime takes some of that way. When Ash initially asks Eiji if he’s scared of him, it’s because he kills a man and gets blood on him, it’s a high moment that’s up there with the forever scene but with those being taken out, despite them being close, it leaves much to be desired.
LIS: It is what it is. The cherry on top of an already yummy cake.
Kaylee: I think they’ve done an amazing job to show how Ash and Eiji feel for each other.
はん: It’s so good, they didn’t try to hide their love and support for each other.
Lonefujoshi: Really good. The manga is equally good. I’m extremely happy for the kiss and those hand-holding.
Daniella: I still don’t get how they got so close in such a short time but they DO need each other & that’s beautiful.
Lina: They’re doing a very good job. The subtle changes in their voices when speaking to each other is, to me, the most important and by far the purest thing.
Teddy: I guess the show losses some meaning as in the manga (of what I have read from others) and I wish more people would understand the complexity of the characters and their interactions.
BANANA FISH has characters of different races, how do you feel about the way they’re portrayed?
ct: Especially in a setting with gangs, violence, and mafia, I think it’s safe to say that not one race was portrayed to bring about a certain image to themselves.
Myrviell: Very good, as a latino I really liked the way all the races are portrayed.
Ri: To say it’s devoid of racial stereotypes is far from the truth. It absolutely plays into a lot of cultural and racial stereotypes.
Patricia: I feel like they’re being portrayed quite well. Especially the Chinese gang. You get to see their culture and how that gang has a look of its own.
Jewels: I’m actually really happy about seeing the diversity in it. I don’t see many anime with diverse characters like Banana Fish has.
Christine: The way that African Americans were portrayed in the manga (the lines used for their skin tones, the way they talked) really bothered me so I’m happy the show is changing that. Cain Blood finally gets to be his badass self in the anime.
Lynx: So far, the female characters are portrayed in a light that shows them to not be extremely important to the plot line, but often being intellectual and observative.
LIS: More respectful then many other stories back in it’s day.
Kaylee: I think they portray them pretty well.
Lonefujoshi: Seriously anime is doing not a very great job in this department, but manga is the best for this.
Daniella: I don’t seem to find any problem with them. They are all still humans, some of them we love & care about no matter who they are.
Lina: As for now, they’ve portrayed them in a fair light and I’m glad that racism isn’t the main point either.
Teddy: I think it’s okay.
BANANA FISH has few female characters, how do you feel about the way the show portrays them thus far?
ct: The woman who lived with Ash’s dad was portrayed as a pretty quiet, almost docile woman. It was probably only her character, but there isn’t much to say as well as Shorter’s sister with them being the only memorable female characters thus far.
Myrviell: It makes sense the way that the girls are portrayed.
Ri: As best as they can given how little content there is for them in the manga. The females that have been named have either been very quiet and passive (Jennifer and Nadia) or sexy (Jessica). It’s definitely not the best or ideal.
Seba: Good, I love Jessica.
Patricia: I’ve only seen Jessica so what I can get from her is that she isn’t afraid to shoot and she seems like a strong woman, not caring what other men think. She’s also perverted but girls can be like that too.
Jewels: I feel that they are realistic and unique.
Christine: I wish there was at least a few more female characters who offered more to the plot than just being affected by the men around them.
Lynx: I feel like Banana Fish had a fairly accurate portrayal in the manga, based on the cultural differences, the way they spoke and interacted with one another but the anime also takes that away, and with it, some importance of how the story progresses.
LIS: Unfortunate, but not surprising for its original time period and setting.
Kaylee: I think they’ve done well. All the females I’ve seen have been pretty strong so far.
はん: All of the female characters have a strong personality I love it.
Lonefujoshi: Mostly as women being distressed by the actions of their male relatives. That’s how the manga showed it too so I have less to talk about this.
Daniella: This is a man’s world, we have seen the kind woman & the strong independent but still loveable mother. We get all kind that’s what I’m trying to say & das nice.
Lina: The only female character that was allowed enough spotlight for me to make an opinion about was Jessica and boy do I love her. She’s not the lonely, depressed single mom who desperately needs a man in her life but a badass, hard working woman. That’s what I love.
Teddy: I believe that in the time it was written of course female interactions in those particular situations were fewer.
Who’s the character/s you identify the most with?
ct: I identify most with Ash and his mentality of self-sacrifice and wish to protect the people closest to him.
Ri: Eiji. Definitely Eiji. I’ve lived in many different countries so I know what it’s like to be the odd one out and I also know what it’s like to be surrounded by people who are a lot better than you at least in the situation you’re in. He just does what he can, offers support for those around him and cooks and I can relate to that.
Seba: Ash for sure.
Patricia: I’d say Ash for looks. He’s pale, has blonde hair, and green eyes like me. Personality, I’m not sure.
Christine: EIJI. If I was thrown into the life of mafias and drugs and street gangs I would also be like “pls eat healthy and be safe” in the midst of a gang war.
Lynx: The characters I can honestly say I identify most with are Ash and Yau-si.
LIS: None, really.
Kaylee: Eiji and Yut-Lung.
はん: Shorter and Eiji.
Lina: Eiji. He grew up in a world of closure and warmth but was quickly pushed into a world of war and crime and coldness. While I haven’t been falling into the world of gangs and crimes of that manner, my life recently did a 180 turn for the worse.
Teddy: In some way to Ash.
Do you have any thoughts on how BANANA FISH is incorporating drugs, mind control and politicians into the plot thus far?
ct: How Banana Fish is incorporating it is exactly what I think goes on in the government and military.
Myrviell: That’s really good actually.
Ri: The whole drug thing, at least in my opinion, is not that bad since they’re not dealing with topics such as substance abuse and there isn’t some major commentary on the war on drugs.
Mind control is not anything new in pop culture and it’s not something I have any critiques about.
As for politicians. It’s always risky to include stuff on politics but it’s not that far fetched that there’s corruption among them especially in the states. So I also have no issue with how that’s been portrayed
Seba: No thoughts other than that I don’t want the banana shit thing taken too far and hurting more people. They show the politicals behavior in a really real way.
Patricia: I think it’s a pretty cool plot to put in the story. You don’t hear about it often which was one of the reasons I was drawn to the show.
Jewels: I like how it talks about the dark side of the world and like how it includes politics.
Christine: I love a good government conspiracy and I feel like if there really was a drug like banana fish, the government would totally get involved.
Lynx: So far, I like the way that drugs and such are incorporated. The plot relies heavily on these things but as we go further into the anime and with the pacing of the anime, I worry that a lot of information will be left out.
LIS: It can be pretty pulpy, very clearly based on American action movies. Not in a bad way though.
Kaylee: I think they’ve been pretty accurate.
Lonefujoshi: Nope, but it’s lacking what the manga has that much I can say.
Daniella: It’s wild & mindblowing.
Lina: I think it’s important to include. Banana Fish may be an animated series but it’s far from something kids should watch and aimed towards older teens and adults. We should know about the harsh truth of our world and they are doing a great job conveying those messages.
Teddy: Too real it hurts.
Do you have any thoughts on the show’s villains and the way they’re portrayed?
ct: Some villains are portrayed as one-dimensional characters where you only know them for the evil they do, such as the main “villain” that Ash is going against. Others like Yut Lung are given a backstory and more ambition. I think it’s sort of a way to later bring those villains onto the protagonist’s side versus the main villain?
Myrviell: It doesn’t romanticize (?) the abusive relationships with them, so is good.
Ri: Generally speaking all villains, save for Yut-Lung, have been clear-cut “bad guys” they are bad men who do bad things. In that sense they are more clichê and can be on the boring side. Their motivation is money or revenge. Yut-lung is really the only interesting one as his motive is not against Ash, in fact I’m somewhat reluctant to even call him a villain.
Seba: They suck I have no words.
Patricia: They’re really good villains. They’re realistic. They make you hate them so much and that’s what a villain should do.
Jewels: I’m glad that they are portrayed as evil and that actions against the other characters are seen as disgusting.
Christine: Dino makes me want to throw my laptop off a cliff. (…)
Lynx: The way the villains are portrayed is unnerving. It’s unnerving because the villains are realistic- these are people who are willing and able to get away with their power and hurting those below them because they have the ability. It’s one of the things I can say I love the most about BF, how realistic the villains are.
LIS: I’m kinda meh about the villains. Yut-Lung was the most effective for me.
Kaylee: I think the villains are portrayed well because some (such as Dino) are unforgivable. He does bad things and nothing can justify it. As to where with characters such as Yut-Lung are a bit easier to sympathize with knowing where he’s been and what’s happened to him.
はん: I think Arthur’s reason to hate Ash is a bit over.
Lonefujoshi: Good so far, faithfully adapting the manga in this aspect.
Daniella: They are typical bad guys.
Lina: I think every villain has their purpose for what they’re doing and most of them aren’t purely villains but tragic heroes as well. I think this is an important part of building characters that are more than one-dimensional.
Teddy: I think they’re all kinda human? In the sense of being driven by desires which all humans have.
Any additional thoughts? Feel free to talk about anything I haven’t asked about the show that you would like to share
Myrviell: Ash and Eiji are the perfect couple.
Ri: (…) Leading on from that there is the subtextual nature of Eiji and Ash’s relationship. Whilst reading and watching the show they are romantically coded but, especially in our heteronormative society, people will question that. (…) Sadly a romantically coded relationship means nothing if it’s not made explicit in this day and age but I can’t see MAPPA doing anything to make it clear they are together.
One Last totally unrelated thing: This show has an issue with its audience as far as the anime community goes. It’s not a major issue but I would like to mention it briefly.
The show is “too gay” for a lot of the homophobic men who dwell in the anime community and a lot of people dismiss it as a yaoi and fujoshi fodder which is interesting because I think a lot of fujoshis aren’t gonna enjoy this show as it isn’t sexual and fanservice – y.
Lynx: My thoughts, on the proceedings of the show mostly lie with worry, and how much will be cut out or left to the imagination. I usually tell people they’re better off reading the manga because 24 episodes that are 24-30 minutes long just isn’t long enough to fit everything into it since BF relies so heavily on different information and dialogue.
LIS: I’m excited for the second cour. I also really love how chill the BF fandom is 🙂
Teddy: Even though I started watching the anime cause the media was going crazy about it, the moment I watched the first episode I knew things were gonna get rough and it got me super excited to understand all of it. So yeah I actually stopped watching the show until it finishes so I can watch it all in one go, and afterwards I plan on reading the manga cause I seriously liked the human interactions in the show and also how real it feels :3 Have a nice day!
Notes: Thanks to everyone for the kind messages! Christine: You can already find that answer if you type that word in the blog’s search box.
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