Taking a Banana Break

I started this series of posts because, despite its flaws, I’ve been loving this adaptation as its own thing. These detailed posts mostly highlighted how the adaptation was taking advantage of the medium to tell the story (like the use of color and symbolism). I also pointed out the changes I appreciated, and enjoyed drawing connections with all those old books and movies.  Continue reading “Taking a Banana Break”

BANANA FISH fans share their thoughts on the anime (1er cour) – Part V

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.

SHORTER AND EIJI

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.

EIJI BEING COMPARDED TO A CAT

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?

ash says let's drop it

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.

ASH SAYS HE ONLY OWNS A GUN TO SURVIVE.jpg

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.

ash says i'll protect you to eiji

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.

the fly

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.

Francis: Shorter.

SHORTER SAYS MY LAZY ASS HURTS

sophia: Ash.

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 😦

Zawa: Eiji.

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.

dino says this is what banana fish is all about

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).

 

PART I

PART II

PART III

PART IV

 


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BANANA FISH fans share their thoughts on the anime (1er cour) – Part IV

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  (#46-#60)

William: 21 years old, Canada. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & agender. Anime only.

Bleepanime: 20 years old, U.S. Identifies as female. Anime only.

Brittany Purcell: 25 years old, Canada. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.

Fanie: 28 years old, Indonesia. Identifies as female. Anime only.

sakurako: 21 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & non-binary female. Has read the manga.

Álex: 22 years old, Spain. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & non-binary male. Anime only.

Sam: 16 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.

Rainy: 28 years old. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & non-binary. Anime only.

Jackie: 25 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & non-binary. Anime only.

M: 20 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.

Endy: 28 years old, U.S. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & male. Anime only.

マヤ: 18 years old, U.S. Identifies as female. Has read the manga.

Relfanalae: 39 years old, Germany. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Has read the manga.

Near: 22 years old, Mexico. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.

Mafi: 26 years old, Peru. Identifies as LGBTQ+ & female. Anime only.

Why are you watching this show?

William: Interesting story/characters.

Bleepanime: The crime drama and visual aesthetic.

Brittany Purcell: It looked interesting and I heard good things about it.

eiji says it's a nice place

Fanie: I love the relationship between Ash and Eiji.

sakurako: The plot is very interesting (and it takes place in the U.S.)! It is also one of the most unique shows I’ve seen in a while.

Álex: Because I like the premise and the characters

Sam: I read the manga when people started talking about Banana Fish again and felt the need to watch the anime too!

Rainy: I check out things that pique my interest every season, and I like the characters a lot in this one

Jackie: I heard good things via word of mouth and a good friend also recommended it to me.

M: Fell in love with the series.

Endy: My reasons for looking into it was the presence of LGBT content/themes, as I understood it. At this point I’ve become very generally invested though, and especially in Ash and Eiji’s relationship even if it never crosses into romantic territory.

マヤ: (I read the manga first) I love the story of Ash. I love the idea of him finding happiness though his life is fuller with unfortunate events. I also can relate to Ash on a personal level, dealing with the trama of being molested, continuous anxiety and feelings alone.

Relfanalae: I liked the manga and find the anime-adaptation compelling and well done.

Near: I saw the first trailer and it interested me, now, I’m just loving everything, the concept, the plot, the characters, I’m even looking to buy the manga.

Mafi: I heard an anime was about mafia and it sounded interesting.

What’s your favorite thing about this show?

William: How developed each character seems to be, like you could dig behind each one and they would have something interesting about them. Though I’m sure its much more so in the manga.

Bleepanime: The psychology of Ash’s mind.

Brittany Purcell: The characters.

ibe says eiji has forgotten how to jump.jpg

Fanie: Ash and Eiji’s relationship♡

sakurako: My favorite thing about the show is how action-packed and tender it can get. I also love the diversity of the cast and the backgrounds are absolutely gorgeous.

Álex: The exploration of Ash’s character.

Sam: I really like how Ash and Eiji’s relationship deepens and becomes very interesting throughout the series. I really like their dynamic.

Rainy: How it doesn’t shy away from exploring genuinely disturbing topics yet balances the doom and gloom fest out with appropriate moments of levity.

Jackie: The varying character dynamics.

M: Ash Lynx.

Endy: The moments where Ash and Eiji are able to joke around and temporarily forget about their troubles

マヤ: That Banana Fish is an anime. The manga is fantastic

Relfanalae: Animation (lively, natural-feeling), followed by music and character design.

Near: It’s a bit hard to choose just one thing, but I think that I’d say “the characters”

Mafi: The story is amazing, the characters are incredible, the locations, wow it’s such a work of art

What’s your less favorite?

Bleepanime: Unfortunate translation errors and some pacing problems

Brittany Purcell: Shorter dying…

Fanie: The rape things that sometimes stated.

sakurako: My least favorite would probably be the pacing since it either go too fast or too slow which is understandable since there are time constraints.

Álex: The art style.

Sam: The style of the anime itself isn’t really my favorite, I prefer the manga style more.

Jackie: Ash sure does suffer a lot in this show 😦

M: I love everything in a sense, just wish there was an opportunity for happiness.

マヤ: Some of the jokes MAPPA cuts out but they must have done it for a reason.

Relfanalae: Pacing (too fast).

Mafi: I guess the pacing? But I’m anime only so I may be influenced by my friends that read the manga and told me that, so I’m kinda more critical about that, maybe I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Do you have any feelings about the time change? (modernization)

William: I generally prefer stories set in modern day but I don’t have any strong feelings one way or another really.

Bleepanime: I like it. If the setting and designs were of the 80s, I probably wouldn’t have watched it. Not a fan of the 80s look.

alex says fine let's hear you out

Brittany Purcell: He seems like a complicated character with a lot of depth.. I feel bad for him and want to learn more.

Fanie: I feel it’s refreshing, so I happy with that.

sakurako: I felt like the original setting had a bigger impact on certain aspects such as the Vietnam War, the technology, and the political events that happened at the time. But it’s interesting how some of the political events are still relevant to this day.

Álex: I haven’t read the manga, but I think the time change works well.

Sam: I don’t really like how they modernized it. I feel like some scenes are kind of awkward now and don’t make as much sense. Also it removes several scenes where Ash is a lot more impressed with his computer skills and having phones can make it less tense with communication being easier.

Endy: Though I haven’t read the manga, I do know its story. More or less I like the more modern setting of the anime because I feel like it gives room and leeway for deviations from the original story which may at times be welcome.

マヤ: Umm kinda. I feel like the vibe is different. The original timeline along with the real-life events make is feel more realistic.

Relfanalae: Only positive feelings: It removes things that would feel antiquarian and involuntarily funny for today’s audiences, also prevents the main problems (corrupt politicians, drug-cartels, sexual abuse) from being projected into a “fantasy-past” and points out their timelessness (tax-havens for example).

Near: I think – because I’ve read about the manga- that was a good idea to change the time, it can attach more public if is actual age, and can make people search about the original an fall in love with both.

Mafi: I like it.

What do you think of Ash’s character? What do you like the most about him?

William: I love Ash’s’ character he really touches my heart. I love how this story doesn’t just make him into a victim I guess. So many horrible things have happened to him, but he keeps making the decision to push on every time and idk that really gets to me.

Bleepanime: He’s an OP character done right. He can do almost anything, but he isn’t perfect. He can be too cocky and bottles up his emotions. This leads to problems for him that can’t be solved by shooting. Also, his selfish decisions actually backfire on him several times. Well done.

Brittany Purcell: I think its really sad but doesn’t seem overdone or forced. Important part of who he is I guess. They seem to be handling it fine.

Fanie: He’s that kind of the person who’s adored by almost everyone but is only cute to someone, and that’s what very cute about him.

ash and eiji with japanese food

sakurako: I love Ash’s character! Just everything about him is really cool!

Álex: I love Ash. I like how he’s learned to become strong but not evil.

Sam: He’s my favorite character, I really love him a lot!! I like the different sides of his personality with how he acts with his gang and how he acts with Eiji. It makes me soft thinking about how he is able to be so vulnerable and open with him when he acts completely closed to everyone else.

Rainy: He feels very realistic despite being a somewhat outlandish character (genius 17 year old gang leader/hacker/etc.). There are moments where he shows vulnerability and it really drives home that he’s still a teenager, despite having to grow up too fast.

Jackie: Ash is interesting and quite complex. It warms my heart to see how much he lowers the “tough guy” mask when he’s speaking with Eiji.

M: Ash is my favorite character hands down. I appreciate and admire his strength amongst everything else about him.

Endy: I care a lot about him and just want him to be happy and safe. I like his intelligence and his childish side.

マヤ: Repeat: I love the story of Ash. I love the idea of him finding happiness though his life is fuller with unfortunate events. I also can relate to Ash on a personal level, dealing with the trama of being molested, continuous anxiety and feelings alone

Relfanalae: I like Ash’s character, especially his fragility and his yearning for companionship. He is multi-faceted and the reader/viewer discovers his facets one after another. He has multi-tiered relationships to all major and many secondary characters, which make his character interesting and compelling to analyze.

Near: Ash gives me life (?) I mean, I admire his strength, his willing to live, and his profound desire to be free, and how he fights for it. He’s all heart, and life has been unfair with him, but even so, he never gives up, and keep on living, fighting for survive, honestly and without evilness in his heart.

Mafi: He’s amazing, I like his complexity and how he overcame so much and he keeps going, it’s clear that he has a kind heart, but he tries to hide it since there is just so much tragedy in his path an even if he’s really resilient, he just needs a break

How do you feel about Ash’s abuse and trauma? How do you feel about the way the show is handling it thus far?

William: I like how they’re handling it so far. It’s all very raw feeling at times almost like its something you shouldn’t be seeing, like its too personal. I think that’s what can really make a story like this, to get the audience more involved particularly if they’ve experienced similar things in their lives whatever they may be. It’s very easy to relate and feel with/for Ash as each thing confronts him in the show so far.

Bleepanime: I prefer the way it is handled over the manga. From images I’ve seen online, the manga verbally portrayed the abuse as bad but would proceed to use these situations as fan service. The anime on the other hand gives Ash the privacy and respect he deserves. It even supposedly added extra scenes of him stabbing his rapist in prison and shooting Jessica’s in Dino’s mansion that weren’t there in the manga. That’s an A+ from me.

ash with a fork

Brittany Purcell: I really enjoy their relationship. It’s as if Ash can only act like himself, a 17 year old, around Eiji and I find it really sweet. I hope it develops more since they seem to really care for each other..

Fanie: Well, I think it’s horrible… To be standout above that horrible things and use it to his advantage is really, awesome. Since his trauma and abuse disturb me the most, i think they handle it pretty good that I still continue to watch it.

sakurako: The way the show portrayed Ash’s abuse and trauma was so intense. I feel like they did a great job on that.

Álex: I haven’t experienced abuse first-hand, but I believe it’s been handled well.

Sam: I think it’s sad, but necessary in explaining how Ash acts today. The show is handling it good so far, I don’t see any problems with it.

Rainy: I think it’s depicted well – I don’t have too much to say other than that it’s both respectful and doesn’t skirt around the unpleasant aspects.

Jackie: Ash has gone through…SO MUCH, but I feel that the show is handling it quite tastefully thus far. Anyone who claims that this series is fetishizing child sex abuse clearly hasn’t actually seen the show or read the manga.

M: His abuse/trauma is detrimental to his character but of course never in a million years did he deserve it. I think the show is doing okay, I just feel there’s not enough time for them to properly exhibit how everything really has deeply affected Ash in everything/everyway. There’s inappropriate fanservicing sometimes but honestly that’s just how anime is lol

Endy: I think it’s been handled very tastefully and without excessive discomfort to the viewer, but while still making sure we understand just how weighty and significant it is.

マヤ: I’m not sure.

Relfanalae: Superficially viewed, Ash’s abuse and trauma feels over the top and too much. In combination with his exceptionality it makes him feel almost like a Gary Stu. This changes when one remembers the vicious cycle many victims of abuse live in due to familiar and geographical proximity to their abusers and the inability to get out of the abuse (f.ex. victim blaming, no possibility for outward help, finding partners that repeat the abuse because of learned behavior). If that moment of understanding comes, Ash’s abuse and trauma feel very real and horrifying.

I like the way the show handles the abuse: tell, don’t show, but add hints. Dino touching Ash in ep 1 or in the flashback in ep 3 is unbearable enough without any graphic details. Same goes with the tapes in ep 2.

Near: I can’t help but feel my heart breaking every time I realize how much Ash had suffered. But I think is part of the charming in this show, as a character background it gives strength to the plot. I can’t compare the manga and the anime, but I think the show has a good way to handle with all that, even when is something so dark.

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Mafi: It’s kinda hard to watch, I appreciate that they are showing those who abuse children as monsters, as disgusting to the main characters, as villains, and they don’t go for morbid pictures of the abused, they show the aftermath and the power that one needs to overcome the abuse

How do you feel about how the show is portraying Ash and Eiji’s relationship thus far?

William: I think everything they’ve shown so far is very, realistic? I guess is the word? Their spats/fights are very real and the tender quiet moments between them are a welcome shift from the normal darkness of (most of) the rest of the show. I don’t feel they’ve done anything gross or objectifying with them so far at least and I’m very excited to see how their relationship will progress further.

Bleepanime: Organic and powerful. That crying scene from episode 11 gave me goosebumps. Well paced and respectfully handled, given the many other gay yet evil characters in the same show. By this point, I just want Ash to be happy. If that means with Eiji, I’m all for it.

Brittany Purcell: I really enjoy it and think they are portrayed well. It’s a nice change seeing so many different races interacting in an anime.

Fanie: I couldn’t think better depiction than what they do now on the show. No need to be full of kissing but you just can feel their strong feeling and bond. You can’t deny the ‘koi’ is there! ♡

eiji hugs ash

sakurako: I feel like the show is showing a lot more of their relationship in the anime than in the manga. Like when Eiji met Ash for the first time, in the manga it looked neutral but in the anime, Eiji’s eyes were sparkling.

Álex: I like it very much.

Rainy: I’m enjoying the development of their friendship (and possibly anything more), and I think it’s great there is somebody Ash can open to, that’s from outside of his world

Jackie: I love their relationship and I feel the show is doing a great job with it thus far.

M: I think they’re doing extremely well. They aren’t beating around the bush regarding how they care for each other. Keeping very close to the manga IMO.

Endy: Much as I’d love for them to profess undying love for one another, I think the show has done an excellent job of crafting their relationship realistically and organically. They feel like real boys.

マヤ: It’s very sweet it very similar to how the manga was like.

Relfanalae: I’m pleased with how the show portrays their relationship – that it is about trust and healing and having something of their own. They are friends and confidants first, potential love-interests second. I feel that it gives them respite from the world.

Near:  I think is good, but could be better. I’ve seen some comparative scenes between the Manga and anime, and manga is so much profound and complete.

Mafi: I really like their relationship, I guess I don’t have the words… It’s so sincere, so natural, they are the strength of the other, they are slowly drifting closer and I love watching them in their small significant interactions

BANANA FISH has characters of different races, how do you feel about the way they’re portrayed?

William: I feel it isn’t really my place to talk about since I’m not a POC. But so far though, I feel a lot of the black characters seem to be given the short end of the metaphorical stick.

skip and eiji

Bleepanime: Other than Skip, just fine. The Fly and Cain Blood are cool. I like that they’re not just token black characters too. Sing is one of my favorites as well. Can’t wait to see more of him.

Brittany Purcell: From what I remember they seem to be portrayed fine.

Fanie: I feel they handle it well. They depicted them as best as they can, I think…

sakurako: I didn’t really like some of the character designs in the manga but the anime made them a lot better! (ex: Skip and Cain).

Álex: I don’t think there’s any kind of issue with their portrayal. Everyone feels realized enough to not be a race stereotype

Rainy: Don’t particularly have an opinion other than that it seems like they’re just characters first and foremost with their races being another aspect of them, which I guess is good?

Jackie: I feel like Banana Fish has actually handled their portrayals quite well thus far, really making sure that all of the different races and ethnicities are portrayed in a humanizing and non-stereotypical fashion.

M: Regarding the anime I’m actually decently content with the portrayal. There’s no way it could be 100% flawless but so far nothing seems too wrong. Regarding the manga, I take into consideration it was written by a Japanese female in the 80s. Though I really think Akimi Yoshida genuinely did her best when she was creating Banana Fish.

Endy: For the most part I think they’re portrayed realistically to the New York setting, though I feel the Chinese mafia (and more specifically Yut-Lung) veers a little into stereotype territory.

マヤ: I’m happy with it.

Relfanalae: I approve of Kong being black now, and I generally am pleased with how race is handled in the show. I don’t have the feeling that race plays a big role in any of the characters’ set of mind and character sheets. Cain’s dislike of whites is understandable, yet he teams up with Ash and Sing because he has more in common with them than with their enemies (…).

Same goes with the people in power (Lee Wan Lung, Golzine, Kippard, Smiles) – their ambitions, business practices and personal faults make them more similar to each other than other people of their race.

Near: I like it, really. Shows a real world, with different people living and being together in the same place.

Mafi:  I would say it’s a bit of “Chinese mafia, black people in gangs stereotypes,” but it is a world of mafias and gangs, so mmm I’m not sure, but I don’t feel they are being disrespectful.

BANANA FISH has few female characters, how do you feel about the way the show portrays them thus far?

William: To a certain degree I’m a little relieved that there aren’t more female characters in a story like this as I’m always worried it will go down the path of assault/sexual assault even more frequently than it already does. I’m not sure how I feel about how the show portrays them honestly, I feel the few we’ve seen are strong in their own right but not necessarily in a way that can protect them from gang violence.

Bleepanime: Pretty bad, but understandably so. The author of the 80s Manga was inspired by old western films, so I’m not surprised the only female characters are extensions of the male characters they’re associated with. And it’s a bit unreasonable to expect the anime to completely rewrite their characters to fit modern times. You’d have to rewrite the whole story by that point.

Brittany Purcell: From what I remember they seem to be portrayed fine.

Fanie: Again, they handle it pretty good. Since the plot is heavy, the female charas need to look strong, and they did it with Jessica and Nadia, I think…

eiji is so cute

sakurako: I love how they did Jessica’s character but Nadia barely had any screen time which makes me a bit disappointed.

Álex: I wish there would be more strong female characters and that’s probably one of it’s biggest flaws. However I don’t think the characters themselves are bad.

Rainy: Honestly with all the gritty stuff re: murders, human experimentation, sexual violence, I’m actually relieved there aren’t that many female characters involved. Not saying it’s more okay for male characters to go through it, but it would hit home a bit too much/be too real on a personal level if we witnessed a lot of female characters going through the same stuff.

Jackie: I hadn’t really thought about this until now, but I have no major complaints on their portrayal thus far.

M: There isn’t much room to have a proper opinion because there is so little of them. Though I do think that the fact they aren’t helpless and instead are very strong / have strong minds is good.

Endy: Thus far we’ve only really seen two of them. Max’s wife seemed like your typical “powerful” woman in anime (the type that yells and scolds but has a loving heart), and Ash’s dad’s wife was sadly forgettable as she took on a very passive role only to then be killed. Overall they both suffer from a lack of screen time, which happens when it comes to incidental characters, but I’d liked to have seen a bit more dynamic writing from them.

マヤ: They’re fine!

Relfanalae: First reaction was similar to Ash’s abuse: too cliché. Jennifer is a cowed hen, Jessica a fury. But both characters gain in closer inspection. There are women who stay in problematic relationships because they cannot face being alone (Ash commenting on this is also good, in my opinion). In that case Jennifer staying with Jim and trying to deceive herself about the relationship between Jim and Ash for example is equally close to reality as Ash’s abuse. Her death robs Ash of the only motherlike figure he has ever known and is a stepping stone in bringing about his emotional breakdown (although he appears to be more upset about his father’s injury…).

Jessica is independent and self-reliant. I like her. She divorced Max, holds a good-paying job and has custody for her child. Her greeting Max with a gun seems too much at first, but gets into perspective when viewed from her point: her ex-husband who lost the custody-battle and forfeited bail, aka making him a criminal on the run, turns up at her door with four strangers and goes for Michael instantly. Her somewhat abrasive behavior can easily be explained with tensions between her and Max, but could also be just a normal personality trait. We do see her acting differently – when Max is in Michael’s room, and on the phone with George.

Near: I like it. I mean, that women are equal as the other characters, if there aren’t a few, isn’t bc they’re worthless, is bc the main are men, but the female characters have their own value and importance in the story

Mafi: It’s sad that there are no more female characters, I really like Jessica and Nadia, I just wish they could have bigger roles? For some reason I like both a lot

Who’s the character/s you identify the most with?

ash looking down

William: Definitely Ash. Although thankfully, I haven’t gone through things nearly as bad as he has had to, we still have a lot of things in common. And it is comforting to see someone (even if it is a fictional someone) keep on fighting through all the horrors continually thrust into his life.

Bleepanime: Obviously Eiji and Ash. They are the most developed out of the whole cast. I can see a little bit of myself in both of them.

Brittany Purcell: I’m not sure I would say I identify with any characters but I love Eiji so much and hope he will be okay.

Fanie: I’m not really sure but maybe Sing.. Because there are a lot of things that need to improve to identify with Eiji or Ash..lol

sakurako: I mostly relate to Eiji!

Álex: Eiji.

Rainy: Nobody really, since the circumstances that shaped the characters are too different from my actual life. I guess if I had to say I can understand Eiji’s insistence to prove himself after having failed his own expectations in his “former” life – the balance of Eiji being selfless (wanting to help Ash) and selfish (wanting to satisfy some voice in his head) resonates pretty strongly with a lot of people, I’d think.

Jackie: Eiji.

M: I don’t identify closely with anyone. Possibly Ash in sympathy/relation of being sexualized as a child but I didn’t experience anything like he did. Possibly Eiji in the way of feeling so helplessly strong for someone that you can’t truly save.

Endy: Definitely Eiji.

マヤ: Ash.

Relfanalae: Max Lobo, Charlie Dickinson, Shorter Wong

Near: Eiji and Shorter. Maybe that’s why I love Ash so much.

Mafi: Ash.

Do you have any thoughts on how BANANA FISH is incorporating drugs, mind control and politicians into the plot thus far?

William: I think they’re doing a decent job of incorporating these things so far. They got the behind doors sleazy politician part pretty spot on at the very least.

Bleepanime: I love it. It’s so wacky and extreme but it works. Odd how this was written in the 80s but still applies to today. Goes to show how the world never really changes all that much.

Brittany Purcell: I find it really interesting!

Fanie: To be honest, the things above (drugs, mind control, politician) is something I newly found in an anime, and apparently it follows the manga faithfully, I think Yoshida-sensei was pretty brave to have the heavy plot at that time the manga released.

sakurako: This is one of my favorite aspects of the show! It’s interesting how realistic they portray the politicians (especially what’s happening right now politically).

Álex: Not really, I think the show is working very well with those themes so far.

Rainy: It’s thoroughly something I expected, so I’m seeing how the plot pans out before I form any final opinions.

max says they'll uncover something they shouldnt.jpg

Jackie: I think it’s a very intriguing story on just how deep corruption can run.

Endy: The politician’s bit is kind of phoned in. No one important is ever named, and the whole shady deal doesn’t seem like it could realistically get off the ground behind the curtains the way it is, even knowing the shady deals the U.S. has done in the past. Most particularly because I’m pretty sure they would just steal the drug, kill Dino, and leave no evidence that they were ever working with a Mafioso. Otherwise, no other complaints, the science is functional but they never make it strictly unbelievable.

Relfanalae: The drug-routes and criminal cartels controlling them are reality, same goes with the creation of puppet-states and placing sleeper agents. So incorporating that into the story is not only daring but also awesome and serves one of the noblest function art has: holding a mirror up to reality. One reason why I like the “modernization” of the anime.

The fast pacing however means that some subplots in regard to the conspiracies inside BF are falling short. Max’s position as an investigative journalist has not really been brought into this whole thing so far, as Ash has mostly replaced him and just “presents” his findings to Max and the audience. Maybe this’ll change but with the double-records of GOOSE not even mentioned so far the whole IRS-investigation into Golzine’s finances will most likely stay absent from the anime.

Near: Omg I love this. I mean, is so… Idk so real. The actual world is much more alike. So, I love the way it feels so natural in the plot, and brings balance. I mean, it put a rotten world, with characters with pure hearts that live with it, but wants to put a stop before it gets worst.

Mafi: I loved some lines like “the White House is full of crap” because damn haha, it’s interesting, sadly since the show has some pace issues it kinda shows in the explanations for the politician drama and drug conspiracy, they are trying, I think it’s going well but it could definitely go better.

Do you have any thoughts on the show’s villains and the way they’re portrayed?

William: I think they’re very realistic, that their motivations are very human and understandable in their own way (though not necessarily morally good). Which again, is like a breath of fresh air from so many of the same cookie-cutter villain characters that feel like they’re saturating a lot of media today.

Bleepanime: It’s sad that Ash is far more layered and complex than Dino or Arthur. I know there is no way to make a pedophile or a sadist empathetic, but when you compare the protagonist to the villains, an obvious imbalance is never good. At least we have Yut Lung.

Brittany Purcell: They are good villains.

Fanie: They did it pretty good so you can’t help but just deeply hate everyone who did bad to Ash and the gang within few seconds they introduce them to the viewers.

sakurako: They made me hate them more than I did than the manga. Especially Dino. Also Arthur seems more sadistic in the anime.

Álex: I like them. I always like when a villain is shown as more than an intimidating figure in the shadows, but I also really like how despite the time we spend with then they’re still irredeemable.

Sam: I feel like Arthur is pretty boring, but (…) Yut Lung were super interesting (…)

Rainy: Somebody once mentioned that there are mainly three vices that are humanity’s undoing – sex, money, and power. the villains in Banana Fish definitely go to great lengths to seek out and manipulate their way into all of them, but ultimately the last one. I personally prefer villains that are more noble intention-wise (but misguided in execution) but I don’t mind this type either. I’m actually curious if they have any more humanizing motivations behind it. Why do they want to upset the balance of political power so badly through these machinations? What’s the end goal they have in mind?

dino cage

Jackie: They’re complex but still despicable.

M: I hate to say that they’re portrayed well because they are so awful, but they are in the sense that there are actually disgusting people just like them in real life.

Endy: Dino and his whole outfit seems realistic to expectations, but Arthur is a little… eh. I find it difficult to believe he’d do everything he’s doing and hate Ash so much over some scarred fingers. He’s also like, over the top Machiavellian.

マヤ: It very well thought out and written.

Relfanalae: The show’s villains are equally multi-facetted as the rest of the main cast. I like that they are driven by their own agendas and are not just a stereotypical bland evil obstacle Ash can be pitted against. Best example is Shorter’s death: If the manga/show only wanted to hurt Ash (and the reader/viewer) by taking Shorter away it would have been enough to let him be shot or something. But injecting Shorter with BF and commanding him to kill Eiji, followed by forcing Ash to kill Shorter is not the sign of a sadistic mangaka but of Dino Golzine’s truly psychopathic mindset. This is a situation he created explicitly to hurt Ash, henceforth highlighting that he is out for revenge himself and that he knows Ash well enough to know how to hurt him the most.

Another good example is the cooperation of Lee Yut-Lung with Golzine. He does this for his own motives that have nothing to do with Ash at first, but help him to establish a hold on the Lee family’s wealth and power.

Near: Like before, they really exist in real world. So, I really like the fact that feel so natural inside the plot.

Mafi: I like that they show the bad guys as awful people, like Dino for example, or the rapists, they just want to put a bullet on them and yeah I understand the feeling

Any additional thoughts? Feel free to talk about anything I haven’t asked about the show that you would like to share

Brittany Purcell: I want Ash and Eiji to run away to Japan together 😦

sakurako: I like the opening and ending songs! They’re both catchy and capture the atmosphere of the show. Also both the opening and ending songs remind me of Ash in a sense that the opening sounds a bit more aggressive and lively and the ending is more melancholic. Basically how Ash has two sides but they are the same person. (I have no idea if this makes any sense but I tried.)

fate brings hope inside my heart

Rainy: For the most part I’m relieved that fandom reception isn’t utterly negative, that the people consuming the content heeded the tags/warnings and know what they signed up for. I’m a bit jaded with recent fandom climate and I don’t have time for people conflating fictional tastes with real-life morals, lol

Jackie: This is going to veer slightly off topic, and it’s not my intention to shit on people who liked it, but I’m…honestly kind of salty that so many people are choosing to pass on Banana Fish–which has legit queer coding and lovely character writing in it–when they gave so much attention and praise to Devilman Crybaby, with claims that it had good queer representation. Aside from one gay sex scene (which QUICKLY dissolved into a bloodbath) and two wlw (who were promptly and BRUTALLY killed on screen after they professed their love for each other) …it…really…didn’t. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I also find that while the violence in Banana Fish is intense, it’s not nearly as brutal, over the top, or unnecessary like Devilman Crybaby‘s was. That’s just my humble opinion, though!

(…) As a final thought, I want to add that Survive Said The Prophet’s “Found & Lost” was a very good choice for the opening theme.

M: I think discourse / unproductive debates over Banana Fish are silly for the most part. A massive example being “this is too wrong, too explicit, etc etc” when the real issue isn’t with the series, the issue is that these things are very real. Other issues not being directly with the series, such as decision at the animation/production studio. I think this survey was a good idea.

Endy: Please let Eiji and Ash kiss for real.

マヤ: I hope people haven’t started drama. It’s extremely annoying and takes away from the story/ show

Near: No uwu just that I love Banana Fish.

Mafi: I was a casual and now it is one of my favourite shows haha I wish it was more popular, it’s amazing, the characters are so well constructed and not only that, it normalizes a queer romance, that is so incredible, it also shows that abuse it’s awful and it hurts deeply, gosh I felt Ash’s pain for a moment, and maybe more survivors also felt that, and we know that Ash is strong but he’s also allowed to be vulnerable, it hurts to see him suffer even more, but I want to know more about him, about Eiji, about all Banana Fish, I know it’s probably going to be really sad but I want to know more about them

 

PART I

PART II

PART III

PART V

 


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BANANA FISH fans share their thoughts on the anime (1er cour) – Part III

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). Continue reading “BANANA FISH fans share their thoughts on the anime (1er cour) – Part III”

BANANA FISH fans share their thoughts on the anime (1er cour) – Part I

banana fish

With the currently airing anime, Banana Fish has been sparking a lot of debate again. Now that the 1er cour has practically ended, I wanted to gather the thoughts and feeling of a group of fans regarding some aspects of the show and its main characters in one place, so here we are!

First, some quick explanations. The questions you’ll see here are the same questions I did in the form. However, I also asked for some additional data in order to get a better idea of who are these fans. Allow me to elaborate.  Continue reading “BANANA FISH fans share their thoughts on the anime (1er cour) – Part I”

Update: design & accesibility

Hi! Those of you who usually visit the blog from your phones might not notice any change, but the rest of you will see that there’s a new design!

Writing about Banana Fish weekly is a self-imposed challenge that it’s making me think about things I didn’t consider too much when I wasn’t updating regularly. Every episodic analysis has around 2000-3000 words, some even have 4000! That’s a goddamn lot of words! Continue reading “Update: design & accesibility”

2017 in Review

2017 is over, so it’s time for a little reflection.

First of all, I decided to move from self-hosted to wordpress.com, mostly because I’m letting go of some projects, which means I won’t really need all the benefits of wordpress.org. I’m mentioning this to let you guys know that I’m still in the process of moving, and it’s going to take a couple of days before all the links are normal again.

Now, outside of Otaku, she wrote, this year I wrote for Anime Feminist and Yattatachi. I’m very glad that I did, because both sites have very warm communities that I’m now happy to be a part of. The Anime Feminist team it’s formed by writers whose work I really admire, and working with some of them as my editors were formative experiences. I also got paid (yay!) which is definitely a big accomplishment. Yattatachi it’s a friendly platform that’s often promoting my work, I’m very grateful!

Continue reading “2017 in Review”