Nature made Ash Lynx beautiful; nurture made him a cold ruthless killer. A runaway brought up as the adopted heir and sex toy of "Papa" Dino Golzine, Ash, now at the rebellious age of seventeen, forsakes the kingdom held out by the devil who raised him. But the hideous secret that drove Ash's older brother mad in Iraq has suddenly fallen into Papa's insatiably ambitious hands--and it's exactly the wrong time for Eiji Okamura, a pure-hearted young photographer from Japan, to make Ash Lynx's acquaintance...
Banana fish is a show that I would normally like, since it’s an action adventure / mystery detective type of deal, set in the 1980s. As someone who grew up with buddy cop movies and is a fan of the 90s action flicks, this should be right up my alley. But it wasn’t because it was gay. Actual gay, not bad gay. Before you call me a homophobe, let me make clear that even most actual gays dislike Banana Fish. For a group that keeps demanding more representation in media, saying that for a show that is filled with homosexuals, this means something went terribly wrong. Let me explain what is going on. Unlike something like Yuri on Ice, a show that is praised for its gay inclusiveness (and is otherwise completely passable), Banana Fish is insulting. Its depiction of homosexuals is that of 80s stereotyping. Although it makes sense, since the manga was made at that time and follows the clichés of the era, Ash and everyone else who is gay in the show are presented as man-whores, unlike Yuri on Ice where they are average people who are into dick and nobody around them minds it. Basically, the former depicts homosexuals as something appalling, while the former as something normal and positive. The gay audience who demands inclusiveness is not willing to use that crap as part of what they are going for. And I need to point out how it’s one of the most praised gay manga ever, but that is something only the fujoshis admit, and only when it’s under the table. Obviously, being appalling is not bad on itself, if the show uses it for characterization, theme exploration, or it just makes sense within the realm of the story. And here is where it is proven Banana Fish misses the mark. Although Ash was forced into male prostitution by getting dragged into a child sex slavery ring, thus seemingly making sense why he and many others he knows of are man-whores, said ring is inexplicably focusing ONLY on males. Not a single woman. Plus, most of its members are gay pedos. Plus, they are into bondage and filming. Do you see where I am going with this? It feels like you are watching gay bondage porn for fujoshis. Throughout the series there are several scenes of seduction and out of screen sex, and it’s always between homos. Where are the straight people? Or women? Or those who are into any other deviance? It’s ridiculously one-sided, as if 90% of mankind is into young boys and spends most of its day in talking about all the creepy things they will do to them.It seems like I am focusing too much on the gay part, but honestly it’s what sticks out the most. The whole mystery about the mind-controlling drug is overall fine, but it’s overshadowed by the sexual preferences of its cast. Plus, the pacing is extremely slow and you will often forget what the characters are supposed to be struggling for. It’s a very character-driven drama about criminal organizations at war, so it’s more of a social drama than the 80s action-heavy flick it seems to be at first. The drug part doesn’t matter in the longrun. Especially when most of it comes down to someone getting abducted every other episode. I lost count of how many times they got imprisoned by cops or got captured by thugs, and they always found ways to escape by seducing the gay guards. It was like slight variations of the exact same thing. Add to that the average production values. The animation is dry and fairly unimpressive compared to what they were making in OVAs at the time the manga was made. It doesn’t even have the groove of the 80s, since the animators decided to make it seem like the story takes place in recent times. And that causes the gay stereotyping to come off as even more awkward, because it’s not only dated but it’s also something you will find in yaoi.
This show is a must-see for any anime fan that likes gangster stories sprinkled with some action and drama. As a warning, I must mention that if You don't like yaoi you might dislike parts of the series. I'd like to add though that there is no fan service and yaoi parts are done tastefully so ... it's your choice. I don't like this kind of stuff but I enjoyed the show immensely. First - the story. The plot revolves around drugs, crime, crime families etc. and the show grounds it with its two main protagonists and their involvement with the titular banana fish. The pacing of the story is done very well. It lets us know a little bit about each character without getting boring or forcing the viewer to watch unnecessary flashbacks. Also: some of the characters do die during the course of the show, so each episode has some tension to it. You will not know if the plot will allow the protagonists to get a happy ending. Overall the story is great but since the mystery is one of its themes I don't want to spoil it to You any more than I have to. Second: the animation and artwork. The animation is decent and the direction of the action sequences is done quite well. Overall both the art and the animation is not spectacular but well above the average. Third: the sound. The sound is ok. I can't really say anything more about it. Fourth: the characters. The characters are the strong part of the show. Both of its main protagonists are interesting and feel like real people. They as well as the supporting characters have their own motives and their actions do not feel forced or irrational. Speaking of the supporting characters: we get a lot of them and they're fleshed out quite nicely. The show gives us enough time to get to know the important ones and even side characters get some exposition making the world of the series more realistic. My only complaint is that one of the main protagonists Jade Callenreese feels a little too perfect and cool. This is explained by the plot but ... I just don't like characters that feel flawless. Verdict: It's great. Go watch it already!
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