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From Viz: 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 Vietnam 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...
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I finished this a while ago, but I decided to wait a little bit to actually review it. It just made me feel so many strong emotions that I needed to calm down for a while.
First things first... I can't believe some people have rated this manga with a low score (as low as 1!) just because of the art. Thank God that it's only a minority. I want to clarify something: The art is old-fashioned, not bad. We're so used to modern mangas with absurdly beautiful people (by the way, I don't have anything against this kind of art) that it's shocking to see something different. This manga is from the '80s, you can't expect the art to be the same of what's fashionable today. Just have some time to get used to it, and believe me, you will.
And why? Well, not only because the art is good, but also because the story is just wonderful. All of the characters are well developed, so well that you feel for them and actually want them to be happy. At least I did. Especially with Ash and Eiji. Their friendship is so, so, so inspiring. As a reader, you really get to understand their relationship. Ash is trapped in his hellish life and the only way he can feel free is by being friends with Eiji, who has no relation to that kind of life. Eiji, for his part, knows that he doesn't really understand everything in Ash's life but he still wants to be there for him. The way this manga shows how they influence each other is just beautiful.
As some people already stated, this is not a shounen-ai. And I also want to add something else: Even though it deals with pretty heavy stuff (pedophilia, rape, drug-dealing, and so on) you'll never see shocking or disgusting scenes. Being really sensitive to images, this is something I'm really thankful for. You know that horrible stuff happened, but you will never see it and you don't need to. The reactions of the characters are enough for you to know just how much they were affected by it, and there's nothing else you need.
I think this manga is so good that it goes beyond being a shoujo. Everyone should read it. And about the ending, don't worry - it's perfect. At least, I'm satisfied with it, even though I cried for several days because of it.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Everyone told Ash that his friendship with Eiji couldn't possibly work, and they were right. They came from different worlds that could not be combined, but still they defied fate. And eventually won against it, for with Ash death their friendship will stay uncorrupted forever. I sincerely think that Ash accepted his death with peace and didn't fight against it because he understood this. And so, he died with a smile on his face. He was finally free.
If you haven't read this, do yourself a favor and read it. You will suffer. But it will be worth it.
My kind of Classic...I will never forget it.
I've heard of this title before, way back when I first started reading seinen and josei, and I straight out ignored it simply because of the ridiculous title. But then..man was I smacked in the face when I decided to read it years later. BF got me hooked in the later chapters when I realized that this is no mere manga about NY inner-cities gang conflicts. It's about sacrifice, relationships, love, danger, dignity, shame, and so much more that this 19 volume series contains. Other being super violent and action packed, it's also about the impenetrable bond between two boys who are polar opposites of each other.
However, it really isn't for every body. If you are looking for a steamy yaoi smut, or any kind of shonen-ai action, THIS IS NOT IT. The relationship between the two main protagonists is up to the reader to decide because the author has made it so. Also, don't be too turned off by the art at first if you really do want to give it a try. I wasn't too put off by it..and it gets better later.
Overall, I seriously love this manga to death. I finished the ending a few days ago and I still can't stop thinking about it. It will always be in my heart. Yoshida Akimi is brilliant and the translations for the English publications is astounding. I almost forgot it was a Japanese author that wrote it. Wow. Thanks for reading this long ass review.
19 volumes 1 weekend...
I just finished Banana Fish...and i'm still crying...at first i was wary due to the Shounen-Ai (i mean come on all or nothing)...but Eiji and Ash's relationship was more than that...Ash was a product of circumstance...and Eiji was like a fresh breeze...he swept Ash up and just gave him a purpose...their friendship (and i use friendship...but it was more than that...) was not a weakness, well maybe at times it was, but a redeeming quality for everyone...
At times i found myself laughing at Eiji's broken english....and Max and Jennifer...i especially felt close to Sing...but that is another story all together...ha ha ha...but that end!!! i could not stop crying...i just...that was, just too much...i mean it hit me but i couldn't absorb it until i read the last bit with Akira and Eiji and Sing...then the tears hit me and i couldn't stop...
And as for the Art...YOU GET USED TO IT...my God why put off a good story because of art...in my opinion it was perfect...after you get used to it...and if you don't want to get used to it then you are missing out on a Great series...
The Plot...i read 5 volumes after class...and had to FORCE myself to stop....at 3 AM...ha ha ha but i mean you lose track of time....you get so caught up that you forget it is just a manga...I'm from NY and i couldn't help but remember all the places there and the people...
the author painted a beautiful work that i may never read again, not because it was bad, NO, but because it was on of those things that when you know the end it is hard to go back to the beginning and get that same feel, quite frankly i think knowing what i know now....i would read it and stop halfway...i don't think i can handle that end twice....
I wish i could vote it higher than 10/10...I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS MANGA!!!
Stayed up all night reading it <3
I ignored this manga for the longest time. The summary has always sort of radiated two-bit yaoi to me, and I strongly suspected that I would thoroughly dislike Eiji Okamura, pure-hearted young photographer. But after reading through the sparkling comments and categories, I convinced myself to give it a try.
And boy was I not disappointed... at least about the summary. (Unfortunately, I did end up thoroughly disliking Eiji Okamura, pure-hearted young photographer.) But the story is a tightly woven, violent, tragic piece that doesn't pull it's punches. Up until the first time someone was raped, I was almost expecting them a last-minute save, but oh God, no... the author went there. And it pulled the heck out of my heartstrings.
I was also amazed by how much research the author had done... kind of. I wouldn't know an authentic NY street-kid story from a steaming pile, but although the entire story was set in Manhattan, and it's probably rife with errors, not once did I ever notice. (And that's what matters, right? Right.) It read as though written by someone who had grown up right there in New York.
The only part I didn't like about Banana Fish was Eiji. I understand his role - he's there to bring a little goodness and love to what otherwise would have been an incredibly dark, almost unrealistically talented main cast. Most of the people who surround Ash are street-smart, tough, and at least competent... not so Eiji, and he stands out well among the group.
...but did he have to be so useless? Eiji toughens up a little bit toward the last few volumes, but not enough to save his reputation with me. He has more Damsel in Distress moments than you can shake a stick at. Ash is always saving and protecting him - often at great cost to himself - but I, like every other villain in the story, never really saw what was all that lovable about him. Despite being informed so numerous times, I never felt that having Eiji around put me at ease, and while I liked Eiji and Ash's easy banter and friendship, it was overwhelmed by all the moments of wanting to punch him in the face for getting caught/targeted/whatever, again (!!!).
Fortunately, it wasn't enough to ruin the otherwise overall awesomeness of Banana Fish. In summary... read it.
... Last updated on August 23rd, 2014, 2:52am
Not reading this manga would be a crime.
(Warning: Please excuse all my dramatic-ness.) Damn. I cried a river. That was...beautiful, ravishing, mind-blowing, gratifying, and also captivating. But none of those words are enough to express how I feel about this manga. It's the type of manga which gives you this terrible feeling of hate. You will despise it, yet you will love it. I can't even say what the best part about this was. The story was brilliant and the characters...Oh, God. I just...They were so...good. I just can't explain it. I could relate to them so much and it all felt so damn realistic.
Either way, this story was just too good. It made me question many things about myself and about life and even about friendship. It made me wonder if, in real life, could such a great bond of friendship even exist? Ash and Eiji's friendship, for example. How Ash, in the beginning, would sometimes act cold toward Eiji, but we all knew he really just cared about him and didn't want Eiji to get dragged into 'his world'. Despite this, Eiji would never give up. He kept trying to convince Ash, to persuade him, telling him that he could start a new life.
Anyway, I have this really good satisfying feeling in my stomach right now. To all of you who are wondering if you should read this or not, GO READ IT RIGHT NOW. Like Furan said, you will suffer if you read this manga. But trust me, it will be worth it. Also, if you're an emotion-masochist, then reading this will definitely be heaven for you. *winks*
I'm not sure what part of the manga's my favourite, but I swear
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
it was so heart-wrenching near the ending, when Ash came to see Eiji at the hospital and said: "Sayonara, Eiji." and Eiji's just thinking about how that was the one word he shouldn't have taught Ash. It was even worse when I read this in Eiji's letter: 'You are not alone, Ash. I am with you. My soul is always with you. Sayonara, America. Sayonara, New York...But I'm not saying "sayonara" to you...Ash. Because this isn't good-bye. I know we'll see each other again someday- You are my best friend, Ash.' And Ash dying in the library with that smile on his face...It made me feel like he was finally where he belonged...Perhaps in Heaven.
I've got just one more thing to say. Banana Fish is one of those mangas which should never be judged by its name or by its art. You'll learn soon enough that the art isn't what matters.
... Last updated on November 30th, 2013, 8:46am
No, I don't mean the art, though I give it an A++ for its realistic depiction of physical characteristics of the different races. The Caucasians don't look like the Asians don't look like the African-Americans.
The plot is very riveting, and the characters are all multi-faceted individuals with different motivations. Although I was hoping for more romance between the two main characters (this is the BL fan in me speaking), I wasn't dissatisfied with how the mangaka portrayed their unbreakable bond. After all, it would be unrealistic for the two to dive into a relationship what with all that was happening.
This manga will make you think, make you hold on to the edge of your seat, and make you realize that the world is full of grays. I seriously cried buckets at the ending; I cried at the mere mention of this manga's title DAYS after I finished it. I'm a sucker for happy-ever-afters, but I believe that the ending was the most realistic, the most logical and keeps with the manga's whole violence-begets-violence tone, and without it Banana Fish wouldn't be as memorable as it is. (PS: The epilogue will make you cry more.)
In short, this manga was just... just heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
oh my..I really really can't believe that I didn't read this manga long time ago. I judged it by it's cover and I missed out on the best manga I'll ever read. The plot, character, etc.. makes you feel like you really know them and your really there. The first volume is just so-so but by the second volume you just get hooked! i can't believe what I was missing ALL my life. once I started this I didn't sleep for 2 days straight so I could finish this manga). which is a really big thing for me since I absolutely would kill myself if I can't sleep. This manga is so beautiful, sad, and wonderfully portrayed. The mangaka makes you fall in love with the characters. I really really really recommend this but you have to read up to the 2nd or 3rd volume, that's when everything will pull you in. It has everything love, gangs, drama, etc.. I a 100% would read this a thousand times (if I did I would be dead from being sleep deprived) The art is not ugly or messy the cover may be a turn off to most people but this manga will forever be #1 in my manga list out of hundreds of thousands of millions of manga I ever read. Please try this up to volume 3 and see if it will take your heart. Volume one is just kinda boring and iffy and unlike most mangas it has some long dialogue (manga is about the plot not the art in my opinion). volume 2-3 will pull you in I mean it. please please try this lovely beautiful manga. Don't do what I did and skip it for years You will regret NOT reading this(for most). please try~! I've been repeating the same thing since I'm trying to tell people who used to be like me and judged my it's cover. just ONCE not to judge and read this manga. (i'll tell you it's not for everyone a lot of violence) but I know that this manga will FOREVER be in my heart and be the #1 manga I'll ever read...
... Last updated on October 10th, 2010, 4:36pm
10 doesn't do this justice
Quite simply one of the most amazing, elaborate, emotional and entertaining mangas I've ever read! An absolute must read for anyone. It has a great deal of action set agains the New York gang scene but the rivalries, power-plays and loyalties are well potrayed without any melodrama or shying away from the grizzly details which made the whole story seem very realistic.
It is Ash and his relationship with those around him that are the driving force in this manga. Most significat of these is with Eiji. The clash of two very different worlds and the struggle to form, and keep, the bond of friendship when it is Ash's mere existence which pulls them apart is touching and Eiji's presence allows Ash to show a deeper, more emotional side that would otherwise be hidden and supressed. It is not very often I get very emotional when reading but this one had me totally gripped and I ended up forming attachments to several characters and investing more than a few tears throughout the story.
Rather than dragging the 19 volumes seemed to fly by. The plot was elaborate yet at no point was it confusing despite all that was going on and the core element of gang warefare was never lost. This is a remarkable achievement in storytellingand one which deserves every credit.
The artwork is not great, especially to begin with, but it does improve and while Ash is supposed to be gorgeous he never achieves bishie standards. However this adds something to the realism of this manga I believe and one thing I can't fault is the sheer variety in terms of apperance. This manga drags you into it's whirlpool very easily and artwork, love it or hate it, no longer matters.
Despite the plot being mostly gritty action there is an awful lot of character development. As you learn about each character you can find yourself switching opinions and allegiances without even realising. This is a very serious manga tha deals with some very delicate and difficult issues but there is comic relief throughout in the interactions between the characters as good natured banter occurs alongside life-threatening gun fights. Which is another reason this manga is so realistic.
In conclusion this is one of the best manga I have ever had the delight of reading and anyone who doesn't will be missing out on a real gem.
... Last updated on December 19th, 2009, 12:40pm
One of the best series iv read.... but man did it take me a long time to get over the ending!!! It hurt soo much..... he deserved to be happy after all he went through. I bawled at the end. Still angry with the author for doing that
The allusion to my favourite short novel turned out to be my favourite manga.
It's so deep it'll pull you in and you won't notice until you finally start suffocating overwhelmed by the characters' feelings that you can no longer separate from your own.
As a mafia/gang manga, I'd argue this is even better than Sanctuary or Soul to Seoul because the character growth here is unlike in any manga I've read. None of them was overly-simplistic, generalized or over-exaggerated. They were so... human. Which is amazing, given that there are not that few characters in this manga.
The plot, the plot, the plot... Just read it for yourselves. It's so original and complicated, and detailed but I love how it never lost its purpose. Unlike many grand mangas, and even novels, none of the sub-plots, no single small action was left insignificant, without meaning and consequence in the later chapters. Every single thread is necessary in this giant cobweb, and you, unlucky fly, will not be able to escape it.
Overall, I'm in tears right now and my screen seems blurry as I am writing this review just to get it off my chest. I hope I don't misspell anything. This work has given me a lot. A lot to think about, a lot to remember, a lot to take into my heart...