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 names were omitted in questions where they didn’t answers (or simply said no). Some answers were slightly edited for clarity (mostly just notable typos).
The Fans (#61-#69)
Xia: 27 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & non-binary male. Has read the manga.
Tasha: 27 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.
Francis: 24 years old. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & non-binary. Has read the manga.
sophia: 21 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.
Mari: 24 years old, Philipines. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.
Anonymous: 14 years old. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.
Dan: 19 years old, Australia. Identifies as LGBTQ+ female & lesbian. Anime only.
Zawa: 29 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & male. Has read the manga.
Eneyi: 27 years old, Canada. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.
Why are you watching this show?
Xia: I was intrigued by the genre of the series: crime and action and hard-boiled mystery/conspiracy. I also wanted to see why Ash and Eiji are considered legendary from the 80s.
Tasha: Friendship and closeness amidst a heavy plot.
Francis: Liked the manga.
sophia: I enjoy the characters.
Mari: For the story.
Anonymous: A lot of people on my Twitter timeline were talking about how interesting and good it is.
Dan: A friend on twitter recommended it, and after a few episodes in I got invested on my own.
Zawa: I love the manga.
Eneyi: Because I thought the title was weird as hell so I wanted to know what the heck it was about. I watched week to week from episodes 2-5 then binge read the manga over a weekend and now I’m officially stuck in Banana Fish hell.
What’s your favorite thing about this show?
Xia: I like the elements animation medium could bring to this adaptation, such as the fluid, complex emotions and the voice acting…
Tasha: Ash and Eiji’s relationship development.
Francis: Beautiful; empowering and fleshed out characters, and villains grounded in reality
sophia: Ash Lynx’s characterization.
Mari: The character designs and how they handle other people’s deaths.
Anonymous: The whole scenario and setting are really interesting to me.
Dan: There are way too many things to count… personally, something I don’t see appreciated often is the references to classic literature and the use of symbols, like the animal motif (Ash LYNX, Yut Lung being a snake, etc). It really gets you thinking and engaging with the plot/characters on a deeper level, when the show can leave you ‘clues’ to follow like that.
Zawa: Seeing the world in motion, seeing some scenes slowed down for epic emphasis, seeing the pain of new fans react to things I knew were coming up (but was being good and not spoiling them on).
Eneyi: Ash and Eiji’s relationship is very pure and watching it slowly develop is lovely.
What’s your less favorite?
Xia: I am starting to feel the flow of each episode is getting more disjunct. They still have like 10/11 volumes left to crunch in the second cour…
Tasha: Fucking Dino.
Francis: Even though I don’t think Ash and Eiji’s relationship being mostly subtext is bad (not a romance show), the fact that all explicitly gay characters are just sick pedophiles is problematic.
sophia: I can’t tell any of the white dudes apart.
Mari: The pacing can be slow and I wish there was more character development for the minor characters.
Anonymous: The in-depth thinking used to understand what some of the characters are thinking or planning.
Dan: I feel like the story could stand to be less vague about Ash and Eiji in order to counteract the amount of predatory gay relationships in Banana Fish.
Zawa: Amazon’s translation choices.
Eneyi: The pacing can be a little strange at times but overall it’s okay.
Do you have any feelings about the time change? (modernization)
Xia: Overall no negative feelings because the conflicts in the times of 80s America/global and the present conflicts here/global are eerily similar.
Tasha: I rather like it. The story still works perfectly.
Francis: Technological updates are fine but I feel like NYC changed in a lot more ways than this since the 80s.
sophia: I think they did a good job of integrating aspects of both time periods into the anime, but I do prefer the Vietnam war being used.
Dan: The anime is fine in modern day, but keeping it in the 80’s would have been more interesting/unique.
Zawa: I’m still concerned about how easily he could be tracked with on phone GPS, which would ruin so many carefully laid plans.
Eneyi: Not really. Besides the addition of smartphones it still feels like it’s set in the 80’s. I don’t think it detracts from the story at all.
What do you think of Ash’s character? What do you like the most about him?
Xia: He’s a rich, complex character. I think Eiji says it best: that Ash has both good and dark sides, and you have to acknowledge and accept both. there are flaws that come within himself, even beyond all the trauma inflicted ones. I like Ash’s multifaceted charisma. He acts a lot, but there are a lot of times he genuinely gets good people drawn to him.
Tasha: He’s strong but shows vulnerability when he feels age to*. He has emotions and convictions, and has a lot of facets. *(Note: Couldn’t quite figure out what that meant so I’m leaving it like that.)
Francis: Maybe a little OP since everything about him is perfect, but he’s good, empowering. I like that he cares for his friends and can be funny despite having had an awful life.
sophia: I love ash. I like best his tenacity, fearlessness and tenderness for the people he loves.
Mari: His cunning nature and how for a young man, he’s grown thanks to his trauma.
Anonymous: I like Ash’s intelligence, like being able to outsmart a man more than twice his age is pretty impressive. And I also like his ability to use a gun well and all at 17.
Dan: I love how many layers he has, and how a new one seems to be peeled back after every episode as he opens up to Eiji. Ash Lynx is a mystery just as compelling as the main plot.
Zawa: I love him! I like his intelligence the most.
Eneyi: Ash is a very complex character. Yes, he is a victim but at the same time he still has a lot of blood on his hands. He did it to survive but that doesn’t negate the fact that he has personally killed a lot of people. I think he’s a good person at heart though.
How do you feel about Ash’s abuse and trauma? How do you feel about the way the show is handling it thus far?
Xia: It’s very heartbreaking and at times very hard to digest. As a survivor of violence, his attitude, fears, and insecurities are relatable. I don’t think some people get that someone could be tough and confident and strong, while also feeling like they’re so low and unworthy of unconditional love. Like the manga I feel the anime handles it with rawness, honesty, and as much sensitivity for Ash’s side as possible. I am, however, wondering why MAPPA chose to depict a censored shot of those home videos in episode 2, when that was never in the manga. I don’t think it was to be shocking/voyeuristic–but I also wonder if it was necessary?
Tasha: It’s done very tastefully. Rape is never used as a tool to titillate and it’s never shown.
Francis: Its portrayal is never romanticized which I think is good, sometimes wish it was shown more how it’s affecting him, but Ash is usually cold so it might be OOC.
sophia: I feel like the show is handling it well. it makes me sad to think about everything he had to go through.
Mari: Very believable.
Anonymous: I feel like, of course, he didn’t deserve the abuse and trauma he went through. And, it seems he isn’t really handling it well as the only person he’s vented to about it was Eiji.
Dan: I was impressed by how respectfully it handles it. Banana Fish knows how to make you feel sick without resorting to shock value/torture porn, and that’s something to be commended. I can only think of one instance where they went too far (the scene with Dino and Yut Lung in Ep9), though even then, it only lasts for a second and implies more than it shows. As for the lasting effects this trauma has had on Ash, I think being shown this stuff the way we have makes us sympathize with him really personally. We don’t ever need to be told how his past is affecting him, because we can feel it.
Zawa: I think the show is handling it pretty well so far, it’s still always off screen.
Eneyi: I want to whisk Ash away out of this world and make sure that nothing bad ever happens to him ever again. I feel like the show is doing a good job of portraying what he’s been through. It’s very realistic in that sense. I don’t think it’s too in your face or unnecessarily detailed because you cannot even begin to try to understand Ash without depicting that trauma and abuse. It does make me uncomfortable in the sense that for some people out there this is their life and these traumas are happening to them.
How do you feel about how the show is portraying Ash and Eiji’s relationship thus far?
Xia: I am glad they do not hold back on keeping intimate moments between the two boys, and add even more. Even though they cut out Eiji’s beautiful “forever”, they did not cheapen or cut away the tender, emotional scene that moved me when I read it in the manga. I can tell the staff and actors all wish to keep the depth of their relationship, and takes it seriously.
Tasha: So good, so soft, so pure. It really makes the show and adds balance to the unkind plot.
Francis: Cute, complex, but it’s 2018 and idk I hope they can be shown in love (…) (like not subtextually, instead in a way that even the straightest watchers could not miss it).
sophia: I feel like the anime is a bit more chaste than the manga, but Banana Fish is apart of LGBT history, so I hope they don’t shy away from that. I like how Eiji is fulfilling the classic role of the female love interest in every action movie. he hits so many tropes.
Mari: It’s a slow burn romance for me. I like how Eiji is one person who shows genuine kindness towards Ash who barely had any growing up.
Anonymous: Thier relationship, that of being a healthy, gay relationship, is depicted respectfully to the LGBTQ+ community. Also, it isn’t queerbaiting, something a lot of franchises have done.
Dan: GOOD. It’s the highlight of the show because of how feel-good they are together, when even though the crime drama stuff is done expertly, it really does bring nothing but suffering. I don’t think this show would be what it is without the light of Eiji to soothe the darkness of Ash’s world.
It could be a LITTLE more explicit to my tastes, but I understand why it isn’t and deeply appreciate what we have.
Zawa: I love it!
Eneyi: It’s clear that with this adaptation they’ve put Ash and Eiji at the very center of the plot and I’m okay with that. I think also that between the manga and the anime you can see their relationship develop from week to week more in the anime which is nice. That could also be due to me devouring all 19 volumes over the course of a weekend but anyways. I like the subtle things like Ash’s voice softening whenever he talks to Eiji vs. How he speaks to his gang and how drastically his facial expressions can change from one scene to the next whenever Eiji is involved.
BANANA FISH has characters of different races, how do you feel about the way they’re portrayed?
Xia: Of course I like that they removed offensive racist and antisemitic caricatures and tropes. Nothing feels so offputting in the anime, and it’s so refreshing.
Tasha: The show is better about than the manga–namely the role Skipper played. But I appreciate what she* was attempting to do. *(Note: this is practically anonymous so I can’t reach out to ask for clarity, which is why I’m leaving this untouched too.)
Francis: The original English manga translation conveyed language differences in an interesting way, anime kinda misses it. Overall I think its good.
sophia: They are portrayed much more tastefully in the anime. I was originally put off by the manga because of how black people were drawn, but in the anime they look much less like caricatures. I like an anime with a diverse cast.
Mari: I love it. As a POC, I love how the different ethnicities are shown on screen.
Anonymous: The different races are depicted respectfully, but some characters are lead on by stereotypes about a certain race which does sometimes provide plot/character development.
Zawa: A big improvement from the manga, I overall like it a lot.
Eneyi: As a black woman, it’s nice to see black people in anime that don’t look like caricatures and aren’t there solely for comic relief.
BANANA FISH has few female characters, how do you feel about the way the show portrays them thus far?
Xia: I wish we got to see Nadia again. I also worry that they may not bring back Jessica given how much they have to cut out.
Tasha: Ehhhhh…. they tend to be used as a vehicle to move protags. Nadia and Jessica have much smaller roles.
Francis: Not great that they’re used mostly as leverage to control men they’re tied to and are not complete characters in themselves.
sophia: I think they definitely got the short end of the stick.
Mari: I don’t mind but for the ones shown so far, they have a presence that can be felt.
Anonymous: The show portrays them well, for example, Jessica, she was show to be a strong independent woman for the most part (other than the one scene where she was really venerable).
Dan: I loved Jessica, but Nadia is virtually non-existent. Honestly, the only real ‘female’ characters in BF are the ones that female readers can project themselves onto (like Eiji and Ash). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering how brutally violent Banana Fish is (we don’t need more media where LGBT women suffer lol) BUT it is interesting to note.
Zawa: No worse than American media tends to portray women. It’s a shame they’re so useless in Banana Fish though.
Eneyi: Yes, there are very few named female characters in Banana Fish but given the context of the show, I think it’s understandable. Jessica is a force to be reckoned with and I think the anime did a great job of showing that. I hope the anime will bring Nadia back in the second cour.
Who’s the character/s you identify the most with?
Xia: Eiji reminds me of myself when I’m not heavily wracked from years of trauma in childhood and adulthood.
Tasha: Eiji–we both grew up a bit sheltered, compassionate towards those you “shouldn’t,” and try to see the good in everyone.
Mari: Eiji for his shyness and gullible nature. Shorter for his conflict and having to suffer for it (SHORTTTERRR)
Anonymous: I most identify with Eiji because he constantly feels like he’s useless (which he isn’t) and wants to help other more as do I.
Dan: I empathize with Eiji the most, but he’s so much like me that I kind of resent it lol
My fave was Shorter 😦
Eneyi: Hmm maybe Sing? He’s just out there doing his best to fill Shorter’s shoes.
Do you have any thoughts on how BANANA FISH is incorporating drugs, mind control and politicians into the plot thus far?
Tasha: It’s scarily plausible. Even the time change in the anime keeps it real.
Francis: Very realistically, I could believe it was based on true events.
sophia: I like it. It’s amazing how the themes are so relevant even in 2018.
Mari: I like how cleverly intertwined it is.
Anonymous: I think the incorporation of all these things creates a very interesting and strong plot/story.
Dan: It’s realistic, and therefore absolutely fucking terrifying. Putting together the mystery of what banana fish truly is was really interesting in the first few episodes.
Eneyi: I don’t think the mind control drug plot is actually that far-fetched. At the end of the day everything comes down to money and power so it makes sense to me.
Do you have any thoughts on the show’s villains and the way they’re portrayed?
Xia: They’re disgusting and they’re portrayed exactly like that. I want to see what they choose to do about Yut-lung and his bratty antagonism.
Tasha: Terrifying and predatory, but even Dino has some (unsettling) nuance. His feelings towards Ash are a perverse form of “love” and possession.
Francis: Again, gritty and realistic.
sophia: fucc Dino.
Mari: Dino and Arthur are very one-dimensional to me but the complexity of Yut-Lung is intriguing.
Anonymous: The villains are portrayed really well and are very in depth, interesting characters.
Dan: Arthur is so terrible at being a baddie it’s kind of funny, but fuck Dino. I can’t wait until he dies.
Zawa: They’re pretty close to how they were portrayed in the manga.
Eneyi: I think I hate the villains more in the anime than I did when reading the manga. So mission accomplished I guess?? They’re all just genuinely bad people except maybe Yue-lung but he’s still on my hit list lol.
Any additional thoughts? Feel free to talk about anything I haven’t asked about the show that you would like to share
Xia: It would be cool if MAPPA throws in original gay male characters to show some positive ones and that there are positive sexual relationships. Obviously Ash can’t be part of the equation, and I don’t agree that pedos like Marvin is actually gay, because predators and the likes and their targets don’t often indicate their sexuality.
Tasha: I wish the anime were longer so It could use the smaller moments that really add nuance. Also…. curious how the English dub might address the language gap that was more evident in the manga.
sophia: I love my banana boys!
Mari: Hm, I do like how the characters mention their fallen allies. Not a lot of anime do seem to value those who are passed. Sometimes when a character whos dead is mentioned, it’s only during overdramatic moments but in BF, the fallen who have those who remember them bring them up in a casual but respectful manner.
Dan: I love this show and it’s story and I want Ash and Eiji to have a vegetable garden in their little house that they’ll buy once all of this is over and they live normally together.
Zawa: It’s a shame they cut some of the more light-hearted/comedic scenes that helped balance the manga more (like the chickens or the pizza boy, etc).
Eneyi: I’m excited to see what Mappa’s got to offer us with this second cour!
You can see the full uncensored answers here (they have spoilers).
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