This week’s episode of BANANA FISH really knows how to hit you where it hurts. If you’re riding the highs and lows of the series like the rest of us, I strongly suggest you prepare your heart! Just when you think things can’t get worse for the Banana Splits, this series sets about proving just how wrong you are, so strap up for this week’s heart wrenching episode, ‘Islands in the Stream’…
Japanese Title: 海流のなかの島々
After a sniper takes out both Kippard and Holstock, Ash begins to realize that someone is cleaning house on the Banana Fish trio; the culprit is someone from Ash’s past. When a literal ghost from his past emerges, Ash must make a choice that will have lasting repercussions for himself and the rest of the Banana Splits.
Mama Hen: Eiji has always been a bit of a worrier. Well, in this week’s episode we get to see Eiji in all his mother hen glory! He has taken it upon himself to give Ash a bit of motherly love, waking him up in the morning, making sure he bathes, and making him breakfast. Eiji is in full mama mode, and it is cute to see their dynamic shift into something so domestic and normal, especially given the violence they face every other day.
That’s so meta: All of the episode titles have been references to novels and short stories from American writers F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. However, the works that lend themselves to the episode titles are never directly referenced within the episode, that is until today! In this week’s episode we actually see a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s Island in the Stream, which was left by Blanca after he vacated his roost in an abandoned building.
Ash v Blanca Fight: It’s been awhile since we saw a good old fashion brawl in the series, so the fight between Blanca and Ash is a welcome treat. It’s well choreographed and you get a good feel of just how outclassed Ash is against his former tutor. We’ve seen Ash take down enemy after enemy, but this is the first time that he’s really gotten his ass handed to him.
Themes & Trivia
Meaningful Title: All of the episode titles have been references to novels and short stories by famous American authors. This week’s episode is no different, borrowing its title from the Ernest Hemingway novel ‘Islands in the Stream’, posthumously published in 1970. The novel is consists of three parts/stories that detail the different phases in the life of the novel’s protagonist. The book actually makes an appearance in the episode!!
Sesame Street: Ash tells Eiji to go watch Sesame Street in order to build up his English language skills. Sesame Street is a long running American educational children’s show geared towards preschoolers. Each episode consists of a series of sketches and shorts featuring Jim Henson muppets and human characters to help teach children basic language and problem solving skills.
‘It’s darkest under the lamp’: Yut Lung makes reference to the proverb when remarking on the irony of Ash setting up camp directly across the street from Dino’s office building. The proverb most likely means that it we overlook things that are right under our noses.
Private Opinion: For those of you curious about the relationship between Ash and Blanca, I strongly suggest reading Akimi Yoshida’s prequel short story, ‘Private Opinion’. The short chapter details the the initial meeting between the pair as well as the development of their relationship. It’s a fantastic read and gives some great background on these two characters before the events of the anime and original manga.
Gremlins: Ash has trouble saying the name of Eiji’s hometown, Izumo. Rather he calls it Gizmo, which is a mythical creature from the 1984 American horror comedy film, Gremlins.
Yaoyorozu no Kami: Eiji makes reference to the Shinto religion when describing Japan to Ash. He relates that there are 8 million gods in Japan, what he is referring to is the yaoyorozu no kami (八百万の神) which is a catch all title for the collective Shinto deities that literally translates to 8 million gods.
A Rabbit and a Lynx Can’t be Friends: Blanca says this to Ash after their fight, relenting that despite Ash’s efforts, he and Eiji are just too different to maintain a lasting relationship. However, it is not uncommon in nature for two opposing organisms to form a symbiotic relationship, case in point that of predator and prey. In many cases the populations of predatory creatures is directly affected by fluctuations in the corresponding prey populations.
Yut Lung, how you have fallen… you went from cold detached badass to jealous spurned lover in the span of a few episodes… I’m sorry, his one man crusade against Eiji makes him look like a whiny ex who isn’t over his former lover, in this case, Ash. He spends so much time and energy on Eiji not because he has actually done anything to him, because we’ve already established that Eiji is as much a threat as a playful kitten, rather his beef with Eiji is due to his closeness with Ash… and it just makes Yut Lung look petty and weak…
I mentioned this last week, but, I really love the dynamic between Blanca and Ash, it’s somewhere between that of an older/younger sibling and that of a father/son and it’s very different from the cat and mouse relationship Dino and Ash share. I STRONGLY URGE YOU TO READ AKIMI YOSHIDA’S ONESHOT Private Opinion, since it explains a lot about how Ash and Blanca met. However, I will say that the anime did a great job of establishing their relationship through the handful of flashbacks we see in this week’s episode.
In BANANA FISH the characters really set the tone for the story, and this series has a lot of great dynamic characters that despite brief appearances leave a lasting impression on the viewer/reader, Blanca is definitely one of those characters. The onscreen interaction between Ash and Blanca is brief, but, you really feel the depths of their relationship, making their little heart to heart at the conclusion of the episode that much more gut wrenching.
A Hero’s Sacrifice
This was another emotional episode that started off light-hearted, only to hit you in the gut with it’s bleak conclusion. The lengths to which Ash will sacrifice himself for those he loves has been shown time and time again throughout the series, but his final surrender to Dino and Yut Lung is made more impactful when compounded with the earlier conversation between Blanca and Ash. This is a fantastic episode that really showcases BANANA FISH at it’s best!
I’ll be back next week with another BANANA FISH review, but in the meantime, be sure to check out MANGA.TOKYO’s other amazing Fall 2018 reviews!!
NEXT TIME: Ice Palace (氷の宮殿)
Summer 2018 | Anime Info | Simulcast