Banana Fish Ep. 5: Ill-advised

Um, phrasing. 

— With some help, Ash is able to secure bail. In hindsight, however, I don’t think the good guys really thought this out. Sure, if they leave Ash in prison, Golzine’s men might eventually kill him. Maybe. But at the same time, he just learned that Golzine was responsible for his brother’s death, so what do you think he’s going to do when he gets out? Send his old man a postcard? Yeah, I don’t think so.

— Shunichi doesn’t want to risk Eiji’s life any further, so he goes, “After we take Ash to the captain, we’re heading straight to the airport.” It’s perfectly reasonable for him to want to protect the kid. I just don’t understand why he even has to help take Ash to the captain in the first place. Dude, they’re supposed to be professionals. You’re just a photojournalist. Walk away.

— Side note: this building doesn’t really look like a prison, does it? Still, I’m going to give the show a benefit of the doubt; the building is probably based on a real place. It just not what I think of when I picture a modern prison.

— Max also wants to go after Golzine, but he wants to the circuitous route: find out all that he can about Banana Fish and expose the kingpin that way. Ash just smirks and tells Max that the latter doesn’t chance against Golzine. But he can? As talented as he is, am I supposed to believe that a 17-year-old kid — blinded by rage, I must add — can take down a mafia boss?

— Aw, the prisoners are gonna miss him dearly.

— After Ash leaves, Max finally puts two and two together and realizes that the kid is going to try and assassinate Golzine. A bit slow on the uptake there, bro. But more importantly, some of the scenes in this week episode don’t quite hit the right tone in my opinion. These moments feel too comedic — too light-hearted.

— In the car, Ash fakes being sick so that Charlie pulls over. When the guy tries to check on our hero, he manages to swipe the detective’s gun. Welp, that’s a big fuck up on his part.

Both Charlie and Shunichi try to restrain Ash when Eiji suddenly gets into the driver’s seat and floors it. I feel like he doesn’t really quite understand the situation. He just feels so guilty about his fuck-ups that he wants to help Ash at any cost.

— At first, Ash doesn’t want to get Eiji involved. He never really does. But Eiji is so stubborn about lending a hand that the blond kid just eventually rolls with it.

— What an eager beaver.

— Elsewhere, Shunichi can’t believe that Eiji would pull such a stupid stunt: “He’s usually gentle and shy.” And maybe that’s why he’s so naive. You’re up against a mafia boss with connections to corrupt government officials. I know this is anime, but the power of friendship isn’t going to prevail. The forces of good don’t always win. What the hell is he thinking? He’s a Japanese kid just a couple years removed from high school. He’s in a foreign country, dealing with foreign people, and getting involved in their foreign affairs. He knows nothing about gangs. How on earth does Eiji possibly expect to help Ash?

— Elsewhere, Golzine clarifies that Banana Fish is the drug, not the human. I figured, but whatever.

— Meanwhile, Ash finally meets up with Shorter as Eiji tags along. Even Shorter thinks our hero’s plan is foolish.

This lady is apparently Shorter’s big sister. I almost feel like this is the first time I’ve heard a female character utter a single word in this entire anime.

— Eiji confesses that he’ll probably just get in Ash’s way. At the same time, however, he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if he doesn’t see this through to the end. After all, his fuck up may have indirectly led to Griffin’s death. So… isn’t he just being selfish? He knows he’s no good in a fight. Maybe he can be one day, but definitely not now. I bet you he can’t even stare at a dead body without trembling. I don’t blame him either. Most of us can’t. That’s why most of us don’t try to pick a fight with the mafia. I dunno, something just bugs me about Eiji in this week’s episode. He even acknowledges that he might be a detriment to Ash. It’s like he’s motivated by his pure childishness. And sure, this very quality is probably what endears him to Ash in the first place — what manages to earn the blond kid’s trust — but as a grown adult watching this anime, I can’t help but shake my head.

— Eiji opens up about he used to be a competitive pole vaulter (is there any other kind), but an unfortunate injury sapped him of his confidence. He began to hesitate, and athletes can rarely ever afford to do so. As a result, his career in pole vaulting came to an end.

— So maybe this explains his current streak of reckless behavior. Maybe he wants to stop hesitating and throw caution to the wind. But y’know what? If you fail to clear the bar, there’s at least some soft cushion to catch you. He has no clue what he’s getting into.

— The next morning, Ash hands Eiji a handgun for protection. I half-expected him to teach the Japanese kid how to use the weapon, because I doubt Eiji has ever held a gun much less fired one. But nope.

— Meanwhile, Ash picks up a Smith & Wesson revolver for the job. I dunno, I feel like there are better tools for this. But hey, what do I know? I’ve never been in a gang before! Also, I’ve never touched a gun nor have I felt compelled to.

— Ash also gets some help but a shady banker by the name of Lee. Basically, he can’t trust the guy, but Golzine has a lot of enemies. Enemies that are more than willing to assist in any number of hare-brained assassination attempts.

— So how do you assassinate someone as important as Golzine? Why, you just have to stake out his favorite seafood joint? By the way, the seafood joint also doubles as a underground sex trafficking ring for minors (kinda like that mythical pizza place people keep ranting about). Hundreds and hundreds of wayward kids have been victimized. Ash is just one of them. Still wanna tag along, Eiji?

— Golzine has so much influence, because our government officials are a bunch of pedophiles.

— Elsewhere, Charlie tells Shunichi to get some sleep. But again, I have to quibble with the anime’s tone. The scene just feels way too light-hearted. Eiji just helped Ash escape from police custody so that the latter can try and kill a mafia boss in broad daylight. How can you guys act so blase right now?

— As soon as Charlie leaves, Max storms into the same apartment. He knows where Golzine will be, and that means he also knows where Ash will be.

— We suddenly cut straight to the assassination attempt. Earlier, Ash had requested a truck from Lee. I had wondered what he would need a truck for. Apparently, he intends to stand on top of a moving truck as he tries to gun Golzine down with his revolver. Sigh…

— Unfortunately, Ash doesn’t manage to get off a clean shot for a lot of reasons, but the story is going to blame it on Arthur and his men. Arthur not only knew that our hero was coming, but also how.

— Golzine takes a hit to the shoulder. In fiction, that pretty much guarantees his survival. Enraged by the attack, he now wants Ash captured alive at all costs.

— And as expected, Eiji is unable to pull the trigger on his handgun. Shorter ends up having to lend a hand. Sure, at some point, Eiji’s going to toughen up. He’s going to learn how to fight back. But is that what Ash really wants?

— In the end, Ash and his friends are forced to escape by jumping into the water. Luckily, Max’s hideout just happens to be nearby. How very fortuitous. Ash still wants to take Golzine out, but after suffering a gunshot wound, his chances of success seem even more minuscule than before. As a result, Max finally has to act like a big brother and knock Ash out for his own good.

— As for the bad guys, Golzine reiterates that he wants Ash alive at all costs. He looks deranged hereLooks. Unfortunately, the voice acting performance fails to live up to the visuals. I feel let down.

— Max tries to curtail Ash’s hunger for revenge by announcing his plans to revisit Cape Cod, which is supposedly the place where the kid and Griffin grew up. It’s a different strategy — the strategy that Max wanted to explore in the first place. Let’s not go against Golzine with guns blazing. Let’s try to understand why Banana Fish is so goddamn important in the first place.

— As if there weren’t already enough skeletons in Ash’s closet, the thought of his hometown simply brings him to tears as he sits before the setting sun. There are moments in this week’s episode that are emotionally resonant. But unfortunately, there are also a lot of tonally dissonant moments as well. Basically, I don’t feel as though the anime did so hot this week.

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