This week’s episode once again throws us right back into the action, picking up with Ash’s rescue attempt of Skip and Eiji. This episode delves into some of the more darker elements of the story, namely Ash’s past and the traumas he experienced as a child, so this episode might be a little triggering for individuals. BANANA FISH doesn’t shy away from mature situations, and in this week’s episode, they make that fact abundantly clear.
Japanese Original Episode Title: 第二話 異国にて
All hell breaks loose when Arthur’s gang infiltrates Ash’s hideout taking Skip and Eiji as hostages. Ash is forced to rescue the pair, but doing so puts him in the clutches of Arthur and Papa Dino’s malicious subordinate, Marvin, who has less than savory intentions.
Trigger Warning: I usually do these in the order I see them, but I bumped this one up to the top for obvious reasons. This week’s episode references both rape and child porn, and while they don’t explicitly show any graphic details, there is one scene in particular that features a young Ash with a much older man. Again, they only show their legs, but from the position and the reactions of Ash and the other individuals in the room, you know exactly what is going on and it may be triggering for some people.
Opening Theme: Episode 2 brings us the opening for BANANA FISH! The opening sequence features some pretty sweet visuals, lots of movement, and some pretty great shots of various locales around New York City. The opening theme, ‘found & lost’ by Survive Said the Prophet is an up-tempo pop rock tune with lyrics that do a phenomenal job at capturing the angsty inner turmoil of Ash and the rest of the BANANA FISH crew.
CGI: During their escape from Arthur and Marvin there is a bit of an art shift from the normal visual style to CGI. I suppose they do it to better convey a better sense of movement since at the time Ash and co. are literally running for their lives, but, it really looks like something out of a 90s’ first-person shooter RPG.
Focus/Camera movements: So, I know this is an anime and there are no cameras, but BANANA FISH utilizes a rather unique technique during fight sequences in which the focus is in a constant state of movement as if someone is literally filming the action. It’s kind of like watching a more controlled shaky cam technique, which makes the action seem much more real.
He’s Dead Jim: This episode marks the first casualty of BANANA FISH… which I totally won’t spoil for you!
Ending Theme: Okay, so the OP and ED are both on point! While the opening focuses more on the high energy of the series, the ending definitely plays up the quiet melancholy that permeates the narrative. ‘Prayer X’ by King Gnu starts off with a solitary acoustic guitar and slowly builds to slightly more uptempo instrumentals. The music is accompanied by dark, black and white simplistic animation (with small isolated pops of color; red, blue, and green). The images depict a solitary Ash and images that suggest drowning or at the very least submersion in a large body of water.
Themes & Trivia
Pole Vaulting: Eiji uses his pole vaulting skills to get out of a sticky situation. Pole vaulting is a track and field event that involves an individual using a long flexible pole in order to clear a high obstacle, usually a bar.
Animal Motifs: There is some subtle symbolism in BANANA FISH, with both Eiji and Ash being likened to animals.
- Due to his wild nature and unpredictability, Ash is usually referred to as a cat, more specifically a wildcat. Even his pseudonym, Ash Lynx, is a play on this. Lynxes are wild cats native to North America, Eurasia, and Canada, and are known for their large luminescent eyes (several references are made about Ash’s alluring green eyes).
- Eiji is compared to a bird, while there is no specific reference animal, Ash remarks that Eiji ‘flew’ when he pole vaulted over the wall.
Daffodils: In Eiji’s hospital room there is a small vase filled with white daffodils. Daffodils are symbolic of creativity, inspiration, vitality, and renewal. The latter two are pretty fitting given Eiji’s current condition.
So far, this is literally a play by play from the manga with many of the key scenes from the manga being brought to life in the new animated format, but, it is not without a few minor changes here and there. Nothing that would take away from the overall experience, just little things someone really familiar with the series would pick up on.
So, I knew there was something missing from the anime, but I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it until this episode. In the manga, Eiji speaks in English while he is with Ash in New York and usually I wouldn’t mention it, but the manga made a really big deal of showing how different Eiji’s speaking was when compared with Ash and the other native English speakers. Rather than speaking fluidly, his speech is often marked by minor grammatical and syntax errors, which plays up his innocence, because when compared with everyone else, he sounds like a child because he doesn’t possess the vocabulary to adequately articulate his thoughts in English. The anime doesn’t have this at all, instead they play up Eiji’s innocence visually with overly dramatic reactions and facial cues.
Alright, so, I have been saying this for months, BANANA FISH is not a lighthearted story and if you think that after seeing this week’s episode you are in for a rather rude awakening. This week we were given just a taste of the darkness that resides within the narrative of BANANA FISH, and let’s just say I appreciate the anime for retaining the same unsettling tone when discussing these topics that the manga did. The issues brought up in the series are not meant to be taken lightly and prior to this episode, I was worried that they would try to gloss over some of the grittier details, thankfully that was not the case at all! I sincerely hope that they keep it up, I will be sorely disappointed if they omit crucial plot points in favor of mainstream appeal.
It’s a Cruel World Out There
BANANA FISH was never a series that skirted around issues of violence, particularly sexual violence, so this episode will be a bit of a reality check for most viewers unfamiliar with the source material. But, it only scratches the surface of Ash’s past and the traumas he endured prior to the start of the series and trust me, it only gets darker from here. This was another phenomenal episode that will make you squirm in your seat a bit, but, it is that realism that makes BANANA FISH such a prolific series.
Summer 2018 | Anime Info | Simulcast