Here it is, a post no one asked for but I wrote anyway because it was quick, easy, and this is how I have fun! (I already had this documented!)
Banana Fish does interesting things with lighting–like providing Ash shadows to hide when he wants to, framing Eiji as the light in Ash’s life or some Cain Blood’s scenes with lighting (and tones) that pays attention to black skin.
Some things are more subtle than others. One of them is the use of rainbows, which vary in size, shape, and intensity depending on the scene. The one constant is that it only ever appears during Ash and Eiji scenes.
Now, I noticed most of these rainbows while I was doing the episodic analysis of the first cour, which is also when I noticed how detailed this show could be (remember when a tufted titmouse foreshadowed Eiji was going to get kidnapped?). Keep in mind that I could be missing a rainbow or two–there’s one that I noticed by chance only a few days ago– but I’m fairly sure I caught most of them.
It’s also worth to notice that, while these scenes already had their purpose, the show charged them with additional meaning through lighting, symbolism and certain visual choices, all emphasizing the connection between the boys or what Eiji means to Ash.
Eiji pole-vaults to escape (episode 2): In the first couple of episodes, Eiji is strongly connected to clouds and birds. As he “flies” in this scene–escaping to get the cops–he’s framed as a free and breathtaking figure in Ash’s eyes, and in the wall, a rainbow can be seen.
Eiji accepts the gun Ash offers him (episode 5): In this scene, Ash gives Eiji a gun because “he won’t be able to protect him.” If my memory serves me right, is the first time we get a scene with the two and a gun after Eiji asks Ash “permission to hold it” in the first episode.
If you have read some of my posts on the show before, I’m sure you’re already tired of me saying this, but in the earlier episodes, the gun works as a metaphor for consent. After Ash leaves the room, Eiji takes the gun he gave him and points it towards the viewers with confidence. A rainbow touches his head. I don’t remember how I even managed to see this one, but the bigger the image, the easier to notice it.
Ash tries to send Eiji away (episode 7): As the situation gets even more dangerous, Ash offers to “play the bad guy” and tells Eiji to go back to Japan. It’s quickly revealed that it took a lot out of Ash to tell Eiji to go away in such a manner, and that he did it out of concern for his safety.
However, that’s not the only thing that happens in that scene. Ash was just supposed to send Eiji away, but he ends up opening up and telling Eiji more about his past, just so he can understand how important what he has done for him is. (Which also shows how comfortable Ash is with him.)
It’s a scene that ends with Ash telling him that they’re equals–with their shadows showing them completely united even as we see Ash standing alone and walking away. It’s also a scene where Yut-lung realizes that Eiji is important to Ash, and later plots to kidnap him. The rainbow appears in the darker part of the sky, when Ash’s explaining why he owns a gun.
Ash tells Eiji he wants him to stay (episode 17): Funny how a rainbow appears in a scene when Ash tells Eiji to go away in episode 7, only to appear again 10 episodes later when Ash is doing the opposite.
The rainbow appears over a building, just as Ash says that the sunset and the sunrise are “the only things worth seeing in this dump.” It’s no coincidence that during this scene Eiji is connected to the sun.
In this case, the smaller the image, the easier it is to see the rainbow–I only noticed it when I looked at the collage I made to explain the visual connection between Eiji and the sun more easily.
Eiji tells Ash they’ll meet again (episode 24): This rainbow is huge and pretty hard to miss. It appears as a circle and it touches the Statue of Liberty–New York’s most reconsigned symbol internationally. It’s almost as if the rainbow is meant to surround the entire city, filling the place where a significant part of the story takes place with love one more time before wrapping up the show.
I suppose you’re here because you have seen the show; you know what happens. Going by the framing, it’s meant to be hopeful. It could be taken in a spiritual way, but I took it as a negotiation, as part of a way to challenge Ash’s fate without openly changing the original story. I find that far more hopeful and comforting than the alternative.
The second ending: Here’s a bonus! While the first ending focuses on Ash–showing his connection to Eiji through a red and blue heart–and pain, the second ending… also has pain if you listen to the lyrics. However, visually, it shows the two boys in a sort of private safe haven. It’s basically a sequence of Ash meeting Eiji, observing him fondly while he sleeps, and then following him as he walks towards the sun.
That’s right, this ending also connects Eiji to the sun, and by extension, it frames his relaxed, smiling face as bright and breathtaking to Ash. The rainbow appears on the ground in a quick pan that stops on Eiji’s figure, open against the sun.
I don’t even know how I noticed this one. I don’t go around looking for rainbows folks, the rainbows find me.
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