What’s the show? Banana Fish, Episode 1.
And, wait… this wasn’t on your list of Summer 2018 Anime To Watch? What gives? I’m surprised you even read that list but yes, you are correct. First of all, I was discouraged that two of the anime on that list are seemingly unavailable to watch in English, like at all (Back Street Girls & Miss Caretaker of Sunohara-sou) and secondly I had to get Amazon Prime because 5 of the show’s I was watching were on that service (up from zero last season) so I figured I’d watch the one other new show that was up on it at the time of this review.
Right. With all that out of the way, what’s it about? It’s about Ash Lynx a hard-talking, serious business blonde-haired, 17 year-old gangster in New York and his various troubles with rival gangs and his predatory gay Mafia boss. And it’s also about Eiji Okamura, a too pure for this world, 19 year-old photographer from Japan who’s assisting the NYPD in investigating the mafia. The story is about these two opposing characters’ and their unlikely “relationship” amidst the backdrop of crime and corruption in the Big Apple!
Oh… okay… So when you say “relationship”? Oh they’re totally going to be a couple right?! I mean the ‘looks’ these two boys give each other in the brief time they spend together at the end of this episode is just all of the foreshadowing I need.
Right… and have you ever watched a show like this before? If by “this” you mean a shojo Yaoi (boy’s love) series, the answer is a resounding: no I have not!
So you’re experience on this subject is pretty much zero and thus your opinion on the show should be taken as one of an ‘outsider’ to this genre? That about sums it up!
Fair enough, so, err… is it any good? Well it’s still early on but it’s got some interesting qualities, the ‘Banana Fish’ of the title refers to a phrase first spoken by a soldier who goes postal on his whole platoon, and then gets repeated again by a dying man in a back alley in New York City. They’re going for a bit of a mystery, crime vibe and it’s pretty good! I’m intrigued, but let’s face it, everyone’s just here for the two main boys, right?
I don’t know… probably? How are they? Ash is a pretty cool customer, but he’s got a sharp edge, he says some pretty rough things that kind of took me off guard like the f-word and I don’t mean “fuck”. But in my brief bit of after-show research I found out this is based on a manga from 1985(!) and so that kind of language was more ~acceptable~ back then, but here’s the interesting thing…
What’s that? While the original was set in ’85, this is set in the current day, as evidenced by the iPhone’s that feature throughout, so I don’t think they needed to necessarily replicate the homophobic slurs that were probably present in the manga but he is a rough gangster type so I’m not going to expect him to be the pillar of political correctness.
Sure, and what about the other guy? Eiji’s great, he’s so innocent to this seedy world he’s gotten himself wrapped up in, he has some of the best facial expressions of the episode.
Speaking of which, this art style is a bit different than the anime I usually see you review too, how’s it look in motion? It’s got a very retro aesthetic which is a nice change of pace and it’s very well animated, lots of distinctive character designs too!
So… your first experience with this kind of anime, sounds like it’s been pretty positive? It’s got a gritty aesthetic, a fresh and interesting setting and immediately well-defined characters, the two leads—Ash and Eiji, kind of remind me of Yuri Plisetsky and Yuri Katsuki from Yuri On Ice, so I couldn’t help but make those comparisons throughout—not that that’s a bad thing, I just thought it was worth mentioning! I don’t know if I’ll end up watching the whole series because, let’s face it, I’m not really the target audience for this kind of show but who knows, if the character development remains strong and the story is interesting anything is possible!
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