Usually, it takes an odd name to grab your attention. With a name like Banana Fish, this anime did just that. When I read the premise, it sounded interesting enough to give it a go. Now that I’m two episodes in, how did it measure up to the interest that it generated with me?
Ash is a respected boss of a street gang. One day, he discovers that his men are acting without his orders, attacking someone who has a substance in their possession. Ash is given this substance and then is summoned by Dino Golzine, a Don of the mafia. Ash denies knowing about the substance which raises Dino’s suspicion. Soon, one of Dino’s most trusted acquaintances becomes his biggest target.
Banana Fish is a gritty anime about street gangs vs the mafia… at least on the surface. They throw in a bit of a tangent when Eiji Okumura, an assistant to a photographer who came from Japan in order to do a story on Ash, gets caught in the middle of everything between Ash and Dino. So far, I can’t say that Eiji serves much of a purpose in the show other than being a plot device but I feel that as time goes on, he’ll prove himself more and more useful and/or impactful.
The story does start off with a flashback to wartime where soldiers are hallucinating after taking an unknown substance. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the very same substance is the one that Ash was given and it’s the whole reason why Dino is doing everything in his power to get it back and dispose of Ash.
The title of the show comes from the hallucinations one experiences after taking the drug, stating that if you see the Banana Fish, you will die. The show has a Black Lagoon / Jormungand / Gangsta. / etc. feel to it. It’s one of those mature, gritty shows that doesn’t apologize for what it is. While I’m only commenting on episode one for my first reaction (I watched the second episode just so I could give thoughts on the OP and ED), I will say there was already a shocking moment in episode two that caught me by surprise. The show, thus far, is very well put together and has been very enjoyable.
OP and ED Thoughts
“found & lost” by Survive Says the Prophet is the opening theme and it starts off with a really wild guitar solo, fast drums and just an upbeat, adrenaline-pumping rhythm that immediately grabs your attention. The vocals come in after the song slows its pacing and it comes together as a bit of an alternative rock theme. The song pulls off some great harmonies in the chorus as well and is just all-around satisfying to listen to. It’s definitely one of the better openings I’ve heard this year so far but I’m not sure if it’s one of “the best” as many are making it out to be. Still… it’s an opening that I’m looking forward to picking up upon release.
Prayer X by King Gnu is a very interesting ending. It starts off very soft and somber and you think it’s just going to be one of those classical low-key themes with female vocals… then it busts into a bit of a pseudo-hip-hop beat where the chorus is treated like a tradition chorus with harmony. It really works as an ending theme and, honestly, I love it more than the opening. This is another song I’m going to have to pick up once it comes out.
YES – I’m going to make a bold prediction and say that Banana Fish is going to be one of the best shows this summer. I know we have Attack on Titan season three coming up soon and the second half of Steins;Gate 0 but Banana Fish is offering up something different compared to the rest of the shows this season and it not only stands out from the rest of the pack but it has a driving, compelling story, great action moments, and a main character that you can immediately get attached to. It’s doing everything right that it can do right. Ignore the odd name and check this show out!