Posted by Lenlo on 22 December 2018 with categories: Banana Fish, Finished Series: Slice of Life/Drama

Hello one and all, and welcome to the Finale of Banana Fish!

Starting off, let me say, I was surprised with the ending. I will keep the spoilers to a minimum above the ‘Read More’ line, but suffice to say Banana Fish successfully tricked me. I loved it. As far as the other 28 minutes of the episode go though… well, its up in the air. First, I want to direct you to this reddit post, which goes very deep into some symbolism and the dichotomy of Banana Fish. I disagree with it in some areas, but still a good read if you care about the series. Second, to get it out of the way now before I start tearing into specifics, I enjoyed this ending. I would say it was a net positive for Banana Fish. With all of its problems in the second half, at the least we got a definitive ending. Something becoming rarer and rarer these days.

Now, let’s get right into the meat of Banana Fish, the ending. Like I said, Banana Fish got me. I was prepared for a bitter-sweet ending of Ash running into the airport as the plane took off or something. I think it was a brilliant idea to hold off until the last second for Ash’s death. Not only does it get that shock factor, ‘wow I thought the dust had settled’, but it doubles down on themes throughout the series. It shows us once again that this is a brutal world Ash lives in, where death can come in a moment. The Ash was right to send him away, while also showing once final time that Eiji was indeed a weakness for Ash. He made him let down his guard, just as Lao said. That Lao killed Ash, not for petty revenge, but love of his brother is even better.

In all honesty, this is the tragedy I wanted. Finally accepting his feelings, running to meet him, only to be killed by someone in the name of love for a brother. A brother who Ash had, just yesterday, forgiven and refused to fight. I understand not everyone wanted an ending like this. Some wanted Ash to get out, to live a good life after all he has been through. To me however, this fits so much more with his character and his story. Ash’s story is not a happy one, it never was, even when Eiji came in. The write up I linked earlier goes far more in depth than I ever could satisfactorily, so just go read it. It goes all in on the story of the Snows of Kilimanjaro, how it relates to Ash, and is the only story Ash himself tells us about. Its great. Read it.

That said, though the last 10 minutes were the best, the first 20 were… questionable. To save some time, I am just going to run through some of the more minor gripes here before heading into the big ones. Let’s start with Stormtrooper accuracy. Banana fish set up its final villains to be trained, elite, mercenaries. Yet they can’t a 20-something Chinese kid in a bright blue blazer standing in the middle of a room. Foxx, and also Ash for all his incredible has been touted, can’t even graze each other at a distance of maybe 10 ft. Banana Fish expects me to believe this, when just a few weeks ago we watched Ash put a bullet between someone’s eyes while blind? Its plot convenience, nothing more. And the only reason it’s a problem here is because Ash’s self-sufficiency and combat prowess has been a major factor till now.

Getting into the big ones, the first one to come to mind is Dino. Straight up, the man was shot twice last week. Yet he managed to drag himself to the control room, unnoticed, take out some guards and shut everything down. Then managed to get a gun, sneak up on Foxx, and pop him in the head. It’s simply ridiculous, he should have died a week ago. That isn’t Banana Fish’s biggest faux pas with him though. That would be the attempted, or at least lightly done, “redeeming” of Dino. I have no idea what Banana Fish was trying to make me feel with his death. That he actually loved Ash in some less than twisted way? After all he has done in and before the story? Simply put, Dino is not a character deserving of such a send off, but rather one much more brutal.

Speaking of brutal, this is a good chance to transition to Foxx and Ash’s fight. Character wise, Foxx was weak, we can all agree there. He swooped in at the last second and stole the antagonist spotlight from Dino. Undeservedly so. I would have much prefered Blanca, an already established Bad Ass and clearly conflicted Father-Figure end up doing this. It would require some re-writes, no doubt, but I think it would have made for a better and more contained story. For the fight itself, it was alright. The best thing I can say is I enjoyed how brutal it was. It wasn’t the classic anime elegant dance fight with fancy moves and such. It was a knife to the shoulder and a power drill to the liver. The fight fits Ash’s world, and just how dirty/bad a man Foxx was.

Finally, for mistakes, Sing and Yut. This one is actually relatively minor, as the mistake was giving Yut such a long scene for the finale. His story was largely tied up last week in my opinion. If Banana Fish was going to get an extra 10 minutes, I feel there were much better things it could have spent it on. Because frankly, seeing Yut come out of all of this with a “friend” in Sing, someone to help him clean up his act, was a bit dull. Yut needed it, don’t get me wrong. He is starting down the same path Ash did when he met Eiji, finding people he can rely on and maybe someone he can love someday. I just don’t think it warranted as long a scene as it got. A minor complaint, I know, but since this is the finale, it needed to be said.

So all in all, did this finale close out Banana Fish on a high note? I think it did. But more because the central relationship, Ash and Eiji, was done so well and less because of the actual story. To be quite frank, the central Banana Fish drug storyline was almost meaningless by the end. It feels like it only existed for the Shorter death and to push the plot to its next “gotcha” kidnapping point. Remove that, and I think Banana Fish could have become a much more personal story of revenge and love without getting diluted by side-plot. It would definitely have helped the pacing issues we ran into. But since the ending forgoed the drug plot for the most part, excluding a 30 second “love you dad” scene with Max, it mostly sidestepped this blemish in its story.

Fact is, I rewatched the final 2 minutes and remember it clearer than I do the rest of the episode. And if an ending does that, then I can’t call it anything less than a success. A muted one sure, but still a success. But what did you think? Am I being harsh, am I just not getting it? What’s going on in your head? Let me know down below and expect the final review sometime this weekend! Merry Christmas!

3 Responses

  1. Avatar Chii says:

    Not a fan of the action in general in this series. Mostly because it’s just for fun and I feel like in the anime’s case, where they had a limited episode count, it would have been better to truncate them more. That’s why I kinda appreciated that we burned through content around episode 20-21. The volumes that correspond to those episodes was almost all action. They should have cut more of the earlier stuff in the second half, like the action in the mental institute, so that they didn’t rush the later material so much.

    The anime adaptation does sideline the drug plot a lot in favor of character interactions because of time constraints. I think it’s okay like that, the drug plot wasn’t that important in the manga either. It’s mostly a plot device to move things along and to help aid the mangaka point out some political issues, which the anime kinda foregoes completely because of the updated setting. In retrospect, Banana Fish has always been the personal story of Ash Lynx. I remember it solely for the tale it tells of Ash, his relationship with Eiji, and the themes it presents.

    The reddit post you linked was an interesting take on the ending. One of many ways to look at it. I think answering why Ash decided to die is the huge loaded question this finale poses. You also mentioned that you disagreed with some of that post, so I’m interested to hear your thoughts on why Ash chose death.

    Happy holidays!

  2. Avatar kisshentaitv says:

    I’m excited for mr. Skelly the Bookstore Clerk, I just hope someone translates it as DLE’s anime often stay unnoticed if they’re not picked up by Crunchy.

  3. Avatar kisshentaitv says:

    The anime adaptation does sideline the drug plot a lot in favor of character interactions because of time constraints. I think it’s okay like that, the drug plot wasn’t that important in the manga either.

    It’s mostly a plot device to move things along and to help aid the mangaka point out some political issues, which the anime kinda foregoes completely because of the updated setting

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