Breaking Down Banana Fish, vols 11-13

February 17, 2011

I’ve been quite ill this week, so unfortunately I’m late in posting the newest Banana Fish roundtable where Melinda, Michelle, Eva, Khursten, Robin, and I discuss the series further and look at Yut-Lung, the new hitman/mentor Blanca, Ash, and, of course, Ash and Eiji. Check it out over at the Manga Bookshelf.

2 Responses to “Breaking Down Banana Fish, vols 11-13”

  1. P-chan Says:

    Although this “Breaking Down” is rather old (which is why i’m commenting here?), I’ve actually been keeping up with this due to my seeming unablility to stay away from anything about Banana Fish, and I thought it was really interesting. I don’t happen to have volumes 11 and 12 on me, but Eiji “winning” against Yut-lung was the moment that made him my favorite character.

    I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I really think there’s something there behind the antagonism between Yut-lung and Eiji, because the author remarks on the very strong physical resemblence between the characters at least twice (and it becomes very clear in the 10 years later epilogue). I get the suspician that the are intended to be foils, but I’m not sure what for.

    On the subject of the BL label, you can go back and forth on it for ages, but there are some people who will always stubbornly see it one way or another. I personally think it is. (To be fair, it’s probably only because I’ve been reading [the fantastic] Wild Adapter which has a (mostly likely, maybe, somewhat) romantic(?) relationship that is clearly not sexual in any way (but to be fair, Minekura is rather famous for writing her male characters as married couples and removing the romantic angle), so I see no problem with a permanently celebate romance in mangaland.

    I think it’s BL because it’s an overpowering, story-and-character-driving relationship between two unattached male characters (you can say what you will about the power of the bond between cop partners and brothers in arms, but I’m telling you those men probably have wives that they love in addition to their platonic loves, somethiing I see as near impossible for A&E) who will probably never love another person as much as they do each other. Even if they can never be called a gay couple, I think they’re something so intimate and so part of who they are in their relationship that to call it anything other than true love would be a vast understatment. Everything after that falls into what IS “romance”? What IS “true love”?

    As for what makes me think so in regards to scenes in the actual comic, it was the conversations between Blanca and Ash about love and life in the later volumes. Like I said, I don’t have some of the later volumes on me, so I don’t know where they are and my memory of them is somewhat hazy in the long time since I read it, but that was the impression I got. For some reason, I remember drawing Natasha/Eiji comparisons in regards to their value to Blanca and Ash.

    Alright, now I’m embarassed about rambling on like this in a comment. Banana Fish seems to do this to me.

  2. Connie Says:

    No, thanks for commenting! I love reading both sides of the BL issue for Banana Fish, because it’s one of the few series that I truly think straddles the line perfectly and there are valid arguments in either direction. What you say about Ash and Eiji being unattached male characters is true, and I do feel that all the signs are there that make it a BL series, short of the two coming right out and declaring their love. That it’s never spoken makes it all the more touching for me, especially since neither Ash nor Eiji seems like the type that would come right out and say it, or appreciate the other saying it to them.

    Honestly, thinking about it more, I half-wonder if the ambiguity was intentional on the part of Yoshida, similar to the way some shoujo series end without the heroine choosing one potential partner over another in order to keep all the readers happy. Betsucomi doesn’t seem to frequently have gay couples in its shoujo series, and I half-wonder if maybe there was some editorial pressure to never be outright romantic, or maybe there really was a divided readership that preferred the two stay friends. I hope that wasn’t the case.

    Thanks for your thoughts, though. I always appreciate an in-depth analysis for a series that’s worth discussing like Banana Fish.

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