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Now that Ira's older sister is getting married, who will take her to the bathroom after 10 p.m. and sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" outside the bathroom door in order to protect her from the beautiful, androgynous, child-eating clown? Will marrying a closeted gay man help?
Considered by many fans to be Ooshima's best work.
バナナブレッドのプディング Banana Bread Pudding Banana Bureddo no Pudingu
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I guess this is one story which might not appeal towards those looking for stereotypical romance, straight-forward plotting(where the storyline is easy to figure out and dumbed down for the masses) and modern manga storytelling where the plot, character interactions, the themes, etc. are often straight to the point and really easy to infer and figure out. It is also not for those who can't read a story without good art because the art here is the bare minimum and actually quite subtle and vague when delivering expressions, thoughts and so forth.
In Banana Bread, the hints are far more difficult to follow and everything from the characters' intentions, their thoughts, their interactions to even their motivations are often subtle and in between the lines. And it's not always what they say or do but rather what they don't, that actually tells you more about the characters themselves. It's not even like Endo short stories where it's deep and very thought-provoking but where the narration and most of the themes are laid out for you to figure out. In Banana, everything is like 5 to 10 times harder to think about and understand. And even worse, it is sheer hardcore mindfuckery(even crazier than Homunculus) and it is one of those titles where much of the story is vague and open to interpretation. In fact, I confess that it took me 2 times to read this manga to really appreciate everything about it. In short, treat this as a piece of literature and less as some manga story and you will do well in understanding it.
The plot itself: Well, this is more like the "coming of age" story of an extremely eccentric character who is repeatedly forced to face reality and how she deals with life itself in her own manner. It is also about the effects her actions, thoughts, etc. have on others and in really strange manners. And yes, she really has a few screws loose because her very person is far more bizarre and crazy than almost any manga character I've come across.
Ira is an utter screwball who lives a life of fantasy where her words, feelings, thoughts and actions have NO repercussions on others and herself and where fantasies are supposed to become reality. She is child-like and innocent to the point of being delusional, oblivious, cruel and heartless.
Spoiler (highlight to view)
And yes, I won't go into it but I consider her to be the most manipulative person in the story, even though she might seem really sweet and innocent.
And really, she has such bizarre and idealized notions of "daily life", "romance", "marriage" and "cohabitation" and so on that her family has completely resigned themselves to her behaviour.
Spoiler (highlight to view)
In fact, when her sister got married, she seemed quite pleased to actually be free from Ira.
Now, Ira's thoughts and behaviour might have been the type which certain adults would find "cute", "amusing", "sweet", "entertaining", etc. in a child but when such a person grows up into a teenager who still holds such notions and fantasies, well... they would be called "annoying", "foolish" or even "completely spaced-out". Such a person might even be seen as a heavily disturbed person suffering from psychological issues like "having severe problems distinguishing reality from fantasy", "inability to interact with others without reverting to escapism", "inability to think logically" and so on.
Throw in a cast of characters who each have their own problems and unique perceptions and you have got 1 hell of a story. And yes, most of them are pretty crazy too because they keep being strung along by Ira and her "fantasies". And in order to maintain a resemblance of normalcy in their daily lives, they have little choice but to play along. After all, you're dealing with someone who is exceptionally fragile and would collapse, should her "reality" be shattered.
Next, mix in psychoanalysis like Freud and "supposed theories about gender identity and sexuality"(which were all the rage in the 40s to 70s), contrasting themes of innocence and cruelty/fantasy and reality/different notions of romance/love etc., and you have Banana Bread no Pudding.
... Last updated on April 6th, 2010, 6:03pm
Really character driven shoujo manga-- it doesn't help that the character (Ira) may be a little insane or autistic. None of this is made clear, if it's just a girl turning into a woman, refusing to leave the girl behind or if Ira is slightly unstable. Either way, is raises a good question of why Ira should have to leave the shoujoness behind, or why a mentally unstable girl cannot function relatively well in a safe environment.
To confuse things more, maybe it's Ooshima making a statement on marriage-- Ira's sister get's married, has a baby, and wonder's why she has never seen the wonderful things she guarantees are real. Ira get's "married" to hide and protect gay men, who are either abused or abusive. It just isn't an easy world or an easy manga.
Read it, you won't regret it. It's a type of magical manga I've rarely seen. Don't let all the serious talk fool you, there's some great comedy too.
What just happened???
Dunno what to think. It's a strange string of coincidences which make up the whole plot. The characters have a "just go with it" sort of attitude to everything.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Saeko - My childhood friend wants to marry a gay man. Fine. Touge - My sister wants me to pretend to be gay and marry her friend. fine. Parents - Our daughter wants to marry a guy and she is only 15-16. Fine, we don't care. Ira - yay! I am married and won't be hospitalised. I can also stop studying. Ougami - My coach wants me to act like his boyfriend. Fine, no problem, I am gay anyway.
And it gets weirder from there.I tried to read this with some faith. I am completely disappointed after reading this though.
it's really not that hard to figure out the "symbols" and themes in this manga once you think about it a little. just needs a bit of critical analysis. ira was afraid of falling in love and all of the "impure" feelings and emotions that came along with it. she was afraid of growing and maturing into an adult that would have to deal with these new feelings. the manga could have done a better job with the "dealing" part of that, but i think it conveyed the intent and growth pretty well.
she definitely had anxiety problems and might even be schizophrenic. makes me wonder what era this manga was supposed to take place in, since she'll definitely need a bit of help with that. again, the manga doesn't touch upon the "dealing" side of ira's problems much, but i suppose that's for the future of this manga and a different story altogether.
quite a simple story, really. i thought it was well done. i wanted to hear more about the gay soccer player, though. lol.
Well told and funny
This manga is funny without being wacky. The humour just comes out so naturally.
The only criticism I have is that the main character's behavior(Ira) is really off. She has issues that would normally come from a stunted childhood, but that doesn't seem to be the case. She also seems fairly intelligent as well. She just ended up with these developmental problems. Maybe she'll have a lifelong battle with this. My issue isn't that she has issues but that don't get her help(especially earlier), though there is always a low chance that might make her life worst. Probably still stronger than the average shoujo heroine.
Despite the year this was made, it's still pretty modern, pretty different. Definitely ahead of its time. One plus about the art is that the problems that shojou art tends to have, its idiosyncracies, are lessen here overall.
Basically this is an amusing manga that's different without being weird. It's humourous by any standard.
... Last updated on May 8th, 2011, 1:42am
From what I've been able to gather thus far, the protagonist, a extremely naive and eccentric girl who's mentally stuck in her childhood, (she still regards superstitions from that time with unwavering seriousness) has been admitted to a new school where she's re-acquainted with a childhood friend. The friend, troubled by her peculiar behavior, suggests that if she got a boyfriend and fell in love, it would make everything all right somehow and she'd quit being so delusional or something. When said acquaintance asks if there's any particular kind of guy she' like, Weirdo-chan responds with "a gay man". Weirdo-chan bumps into acquaintance's brother, plays hopscotch with him, the stipulation being that if she wins he has to marry her. Now, these two have just met, and the brother doesn't remember her from the time she used to play with his sis. He goes along with it and she wins,of course. He then invites her to his apartment, while she rambles on about cakes. It's very difficult to tell who's truly mentally ill here, as nothing makes much sense. Well, if you like nonsensical retro manga, give this a go.
... Last updated on March 9th, 2014, 8:22pm
Want me some banana bread...
It's been a while since I wrote a comment or read this manga, but I felt like I should comment on this one.
First of all, I don't think you need to look for symbolism to enjoy this manga. The center is the characters, not a whole coherent plot, or an achievable goal. I think the mangaka likes writing about weird people. She incorporated them with the themes that are obviously important to her, like parenthood and sexual identity. Not everything has to be clear in order to be enjoyed. Not everything or everyone has to be likeable. Not everything turns out well. I didn't especially like Ira, but she was an interesting, out of this world kookoo person. And I do like weird, unconventional characters.
You also don't need to be especially knowledgeable of the psychological themes presented in order to enjoy this story, but why not educate yourself a little on the subject? All you have to do is get the feel. The feel of a world that's falling a part, one that you're trying to hold on to or create a different reality to keep sane.
Then again, this is one of those hit or miss type things. You like it or you don't.
Worthy Attempt At Freudian Theories, But Too Vague
I not even going to pretend I understood the metaphors and symbolisms and psychoanalysis of this tale, but I can sincerely say that I found several moments within the tale compelling, and several sentiments and behaviorism good sounding boards for further discussion. But none of the characters were ever developed enough for me to really "get into" their shoes.
I think it was a little too vague to be meaningful and powerful to me. The characters all seemed a little unapproachable and I didn't really care enough about any of them to want to really re-read the tale over and over to piece it together.
The art itself is fairly typical of the burgeoning new "serious" and "mature" subjects that were being address with shoujo in the 70s. If you like Freudian psychoanalysis and the art and delivery style of the 49-ers, I'd suggest giving this one a try. The sketchy, swirly lines of art are too "small" and "fuzzy" for my preference.
... Last updated on June 6th, 2010, 8:34am
It was really funny. But once I got used to the humour, the characters were more noticeably unreasonable and unrealistic. The art was okay for an old manga but very undetailed which didnt leave a strong impression on the story. It was hard on the eyes. If there was symbolism then it wasnt very deep. And I was really turned off by the amount of dialogue in each page. Most bubbles had like 4 or 5 lines. In the end, I barely read past the 2nd chapter before I realized that it's not worth my time.
... Last updated on January 6th, 2013, 2:01pm
peculiar touching story
haha.. just now i've suddenly remembered this manga and came here to give it 10 instead of any other rating i have given it before, just to find out that i've already given it 10. What a peculiar story it was, strange and touching, romantic and delicate, giving the feeling of a poem *^^*