Banana Fish #6: My Lost City

The title “My Lost City” refers to an essay by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which forms part of a collection of personal essays–written from 1920 to 1940–by the same title. The essay uses New York to juxtapose persistent idealism with the awareness of a far more unforgiving reality. However, what’s perhaps more relevant here it’s not the feelings for the city itself, but the feeling of something lost; the speculation of whether or not it can be recovered even if there’s a certainty that it just won’t be possible. Continue reading “Banana Fish #6: My Lost City”

Banana Fish #5: From Death to Morning

The reference in this week’s episode title is a little tricky. “From Death to Morning” is a collection of short stories by Thomas Wolfe, released in 1935. Many of these stories include war and death. Many also explore loneliness, despair, and other related Very Fun things (at least one of those takes place in New York).

If you’re into 20th century American literature (or if you have been following these write-ups) you might have already noticed that all the stories Banana Fish references have certain things in common (besides being terribly depressing). Continue reading “Banana Fish #5: From Death to Morning”

Banana Fish #4: This Side of Paradise

“This Side of Paradise” is a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald published in 1920. It follows its protagonist from childhood to his early twenties, including his time in college and his life post-World War I. While I can think of a couple of ways this novel might be fitting, the origin of the title itself might be more relevant (or more direct) here.

“This side of paradise” comes from a phrase in “Tiare Tahiti.” It was written by Rupert Brooke, who was famous for his poems about World War I in the early 20th century. The phrase basically says that heaven is awaiting after death, but it’s followed by a line that conveys that times are harsh and there’s little comfort in the idea (“there is little comfort in the wise”). This can easily reference Griffin’s death and the effect it has on Max and Ash. Continue reading “Banana Fish #4: This Side of Paradise”

Banana Fish #3 Across the River and Into the Trees

Last week I said that introduction time was over, and in a way, it was. Banana Fish‘s premiere is a compelling hook that introduces practically all major players (and banana fish) and gives you the first taste of its world. However, I should clarify that we’re still in the introductory phase of the story. Fundamental positions and dynamics are still being established and strengthened on both sides. Continue reading “Banana Fish #3 Across the River and Into the Trees”

Banana Fish #2: In Another Country

This week’s episode is titled “In Another Country” which happens to be a Word War I short story written by Ernest Hemingway in the 1920s. Just as the title says, the story depicts a wounded soldier undergoing recovery in another country, struggling with isolation and inadequacy. That’s right folks, Banana Fish has Hemingway references, and that alone should tell you just how freakin depressing things can get here. Continue reading “Banana Fish #2: In Another Country”

Banana Fish #1: A Perfect Day for Bananafish

The summer season is finally here! And it is indeed a perfect day for Banana Fish. My life has known no peace ever since I read this godforsaken manga, and now that I’ve seen the first episode of the new show you can bet, dear reader, that I’ve been unable to think about anything else. I’m a huge fan, I mean.

Before starting, it’s important to remember that Banana Fish is intrinsically a product of the 80s; it’s practically impossible to truly remove its roots–even if you modernize it. I’ve written a primer in the past where I mention some of the problematic aspects of the story, including its depictions of race and queerness. It’s unclear whether or not this adaptation will make the changes necessary to address some of its most questionable elements, but some things are just so rooted in the story that I’m not expecting them to be changed. Continue reading “Banana Fish #1: A Perfect Day for Bananafish”

More than Friends, More than Lovers: Exploring Ash and Eiji’s Love

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, in some ways–not unlike other queer works–its male leads can be both be a product and fall victims of the time in which they were conceived. For this reason, things like the main character’s sexualities can be a delicate and complicated discussion. Still, 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”