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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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Loved it and hated it
It's great, it's awesome. Entertaining, funny, action packed, heart wrenching and even a little sweet. Several problems though- the author stretched the story and it shows. That's all well and good. If a story is being well received that gives the author incentive to go wild, make it longer, maybe even include some plot ideas she planned to cut. The problem is, it shows.
The story just kept dragging and dragging until I just couldn't enjoy it anymore. Which was really surprising considering how strong the beginning is. I saw the rave reviews so even though it was a tragedy, I thought that if the story is half as good as everyone is claiming it to be it might be worth it. And it would've been, if the story was just a couple of volumes shorter.
Here's the problem of having a tragic ending in a long running series. You have to keep your main characters alive to get to the end right? So that means you have to keep throwing crap at them that might kill them, but doesn't, making them seem invincible and determined to survive after being constantly beaten down. So when you just make them give up at the end- especially when they've faced worse situations- it doesn't leave a very good impression. Whether or not the ending is a sad one or a happy one, it's supposed to feel like it fits or else it's just a slap in the face to the readers. This one is an example of a slap in the face. There just wasn't enough highs to counteract all the lows the characters went through. If you keep beating all the characters down and never bring them up, it's just torture porn. Maybe that was the mangaka's original ending from the start. Maybe it would've worked in a shorter or less intense story where you don't have as much time to get attached to the characters. But for this kind of long and tough to read story, having such an unsatisfying ending just made it not worth it. I dislike tragic endings in general, but if it fits with the story and feels right I'll gladly praise it. But I won't praise a story JUST because it had the balls to have a sad ending. I won't be hurt by it, I'll just feel pissed off that the author ruined a good story and wasted my time.
You might feel different. Maybe to you it won't feel so out of place. You might even wonder why I am focusing so much on the ending, what about the rest of the story, the characters, art etc. The story itself is great and unique and I'll gladly recommend it. The characters are very well written and it's easy to connect with them. The art is old but very classy. However, there's a reason I'm not focusing on all of that. I am, and you might be, the type of reader who will dislike the entire story if the ending doesn't feel right. I'm just giving you fair warning that, to me at least, it doesn't. The longer I read on while knowing how it ends the more fatigue I felt. Eventually, around vol 14, I asked myself "What's the point of reading this?" That's definitely not the type of feeling you want to have while reading something.
tldr; Read it. You might like it or you might not because of the ending. Figure it out as you go along.
... Last updated on March 26th, 2016, 12:09am
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
one of a kind
Really, there isnt anything else quite like it. I wont say much more about the plot and characters, because all those reviewers have sung them high praises. But the art... It's beautiful in its own simple, sincere way. It's an achievement for such scratchy lines to invoke such strong feelings (look at the vol 19's cover). Basically, it's perfect. There's no reason not to read it.
Heartbreaking but Beautiful
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
I really loved the Ash and Eiji and so for me the story ends with Ash getting the letter.(before he's stabbed) I just can't accept such a sad ending even though I knew it probably wouldn't end very happily. I mean the violent act at the end wasn't necessary at all. I know Ash died happily, but Eiji's life is terrible in the flash forward we see. So for me the story ends with him getting the letter. And in my mind Ash goes to Japan and experiences Japanese life with Eiji... I know that's wishy washy or whatever but I wanted things to end happily for them so badly... I don't think it was necessary to kill him =(
... Last updated on October 10th, 2013, 8:21pm
This manga was good, but being the fujoshi I am, I wish there was more interaction between ash and Eiji. Either way it was interesting. Ash was a cool character. Like c'mon he has an iq of 200 o.o but I wouldn't give this story a 10 cause it was slow and sometimes repetitive, with the old guy and ash, but it was a good read still. Disliked the ending cause it was tragic of course but wanted to see more of Eiji and the Chinese guy
One of a kind
Once you've overcome prejudice against sketchy art, you will begin to realize what a masterpiece this is. And no, it's not a masterpiece just because of the story or the setting. The reason this manga truly shines is 'cause of Ash's character. The circumstances that he goes through, his hatred and loneliness, all endow a certain humanity that no other character in this manga has.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Personally, I hated Eiji's role in the story. It was as if his sole purpose was to simply point out the stark difference between a normal person, and Ash. I believe Ash desired a better ending, rather than the cheap Poetic End that was conferred to him by the sadistic author. Ash was a survivor. His end was completely uncharacteristic imho.
In any case, There is a dearth of manga that accord such depth to the Protagonist's personality. Highly recommended for those who are sick of shallow plotless manga, that have been plaguing the scene lately.
PS: Those who have ditched this manga 'cause of the art are brainless twits who can't comprehend the sheer beauty of well-written plots.
... Last updated on September 23rd, 2013, 2:00pm
It's not easy to keep up the pace in a manga but the author managed. Expect some exaggerated bits, some badly solved conflicts, and unnecessary dialogue that left me asking why the author did it. Still, the weaknesses of this story are small in comparison to it's strengths and she wrapped up the story in a way that left me missing the characters. The story is gripping mainly because of the characters themselves and their interactions with each other. It's not necessarily the plot that makes this story worthwhile.
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...
... Last updated on July 5th, 2013, 3:14pm
It hurts like hell
I had read New York New York of Ragawa Marimo, Let Dai of Woon Soo-yeon, 1999 Shanghai of Mizushiro Setona and they are at the level of wonders. I would commend the same for this great piece of work. Being able to enjoy those are worth living.
This is what people are talking about, relationship that does not need to be named. They are two different young men and they get along so well, so fast.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
They form their link and fate is so brutal as it separates them through the black wall of death.
The story end in a teary way; just before we, readers, can see a happy ending, we have to witness the invisible knife that pulls right into our heart (the reason many bad mouth about the author). Brace yourself, it hurts like hell that will make you smile with tears on your cheek.
... Last updated on August 10th, 2013, 9:20am
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.