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Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Banana Fish


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KabaKabaFruit



Joined: 20 Sep 2007
Posts: 1286
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:12 pm Reply with quote
And all this time I thought the manga was about banana-shaped fishes. Sad
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musouka



Joined: 09 Sep 2003
Posts: 418

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:34 pm Reply with quote
I'm not good at making ordered lists, but I have no problem saying that Banana Fish is my number one all time favorite manga series. (My favorite character in the series is, perhaps surprisingly, Eiji.)

I own it several times over--the original Pulp editions, the later reprints, Japanese bunkobon, Japanese tankoubon (though admittedly, those bother me because the yellow color isn't uniform!). My copy of the last volume in Japanese still has my tear stains on it.

I also own the guidebook, which has some good information, like a timeline, and interesting trivia. (Like the fact that Blanca was originally supposed to be a woman.)

Banana Fish was the first series I ever bought doujinshi for, and the series I have the most doujinshi for. The first ones I bought had terrible art and were mostly silly gag stories, but I ate it right up because it was more Banana Fish. Another one dates itself by having cameos from the Samurai Troopers (better known here as Ronin Warriors)!

I don't think the series is perfect--it probably could have been a little shorter and tighter, for one--but I love everything about it and always will.
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classicalzawa
Space CowboySpace Cowboy


Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 4905

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:53 pm Reply with quote
Hooray! Banana Fish has been covered! Every time not Banana Fish was covered, I would somewhat complain "Not Banana Fish was covered", but here it is! Now, of my top 6, only Hikaru no Go has yet to be covered.

I find it so hard to say why I love Banana Fish because I tend to go all fangirl about it. I mean, do I gush about Ash and Eiji's relationship? The awesome fight scenes? The intriguing political drama? It's hard to pick where to start! For me, the manga is pretty damn near as perfect as it gets, it instantly cemented itself as my favorite manga of all time when I first read it (and for that matter, favorite even among anime and RPGs and stuff). I did manage to get the artbook, which kind of gave me a bit more of Ash and Eiji together, maybe yaoi at times, poses. Yes, I don't normally say this, but I totally wanted yaoi scenes between Ash and Eiji. I think it's because their relationship is established, and quite sexy in its own weird way, without any sex scenes at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Akimi Yoshida didn't litter her manga with it, because it would've been an inappropriate mood whiplash, but I totally need to get doujinshi of this. I am glad that at least one mangaka took clues from this, as a lot of Fumi Yoshinaga yaoi are just as sexy even if you were to cut the few and far between sex scenes.

But it was definitely the story that got to me. It just felt like one long epic from start to finish. I'm glad there weren't any chapter pages, although without them, I honestly have no idea where one ended and another began. It's simply that tight where chapter breaks feel nonexistent (even between volumes it's hard to tell). I don't feel like there was a single wasted scene at all. I also wasn't too distracted by the lack of backgrounds at times. There were always establishing shots, but even if it's just talking heads, the dialogue is riveting enough that you don't care that there's no background for panels at a time. But then, when you're having a fight in a subway, the backgrounds added so much to the fight and were awesome! That's another thing, I feel like the action panels are practically their own storyboards, which makes it even more surprising to me that it never got an anime or live action series. HBO really ought to consider picking this one up for a series (though underage rape, not sure how they'd do with that. Then again, it is HBO and no rape is shown onscreen, so....)

But yes, this is my favorite manga and I always recommend it to people! I've gotten at least 3 people to read it, only to have them all come back and say "wow, that was amazing, thanks for telling me to read it!" I also must admit that I cry manly tears at the end, even through re-reads now. I think "I know what's coming, I won't cry this time" but no. I still do. I'm also glad that I didn't first read this until I was maybe 19 or so, because I know my younger self wouldn't have appreciated it.
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sakuragtin



Joined: 18 Nov 2008
Posts: 201

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:50 pm Reply with quote
Oh man, this is one of those series I loathe my youthful self for the fact I didn't go ahead and pick it up then and now some of the volumes are nearly breaking a hundred bucks used! I didn't get it cause the yellow side-covers and the artwork. Damn myself, I knew it was a good story but I didn't. Now I'm going to be paying out the nose to get it some of those OOP volumes. Definitely a title I wish Viz would have a reprint but I don't even know if Viz has the rights to it anymore. I don't think it's on their site either.
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Twage



Joined: 29 Jul 2003
Posts: 271
Location: Astoria, NY

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 2:34 pm Reply with quote
Wow, this is the third consecutive week Jason has covered a manga that I love but that sank into the mists of time. Maybe he should rename this column: "Amazing Manga That You Didn't Buy: Seriously Why Didn't You Buy These Books Idiots Do You Realize How Different The Market Would Be If You Had."

Maybe that's a bit too wordy.

EDIT: Sakuragtin -- Wow, this was not directed at you specifically. I didn't read your comment before writing this. Sorry.
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sakuragtin



Joined: 18 Nov 2008
Posts: 201

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:05 pm Reply with quote
^ No, I was an idiot for not buying that series. But at the time I was only collecting a handful of series like Dragon Knights and Kodocha (it's yellow side cover was not as garish) and it was struggle to do just that (my sister's and mine allowance was the lunch money we didn't use by splitting one lunch between us plus b-day money, so very limited income!) So being young and naïve, we had opted for the shiny sparkly series with pretty people instead of a grittier story and not so pretty artwork (though now it's looks pretty to me -how time changes us). I just sigh with regret and wistfully hope there will be a reprint but know in my heart the cold truth that there's not going to be....maybe I can find it in German.....
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classicalzawa
Space CowboySpace Cowboy


Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 4905

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:36 pm Reply with quote
Twage wrote:
Maybe he should rename this column: "Amazing Manga That You Didn't Buy: Seriously Why Didn't You Buy These Books Idiots Do You Realize How Different The Market Would Be If You Had."

Wordy, yes, but man would the US manga landscape be different if things like this and Basara had sold well. I'm sure we'd have Naruto either way, but we might've had 7Seeds and stuff!

I was a teen during the manga boom years of the early-mid 00s (and got into anime/manga around year 2001-2. Embarrassingly enough, the first manga I bought, and now no longer own, was Tokyo Mew Mew. My how my tastes have changed!), Honestly, I don't recall Borders ever carrying Basara or Banana Fish (and that's kind of where I got all my manga). They did carry Please Save My Earth, but my younger teen self was stupid and assumed Peach Girl was "all shojo". I'd love to send her a list of "get these, not those" manga (and anime, and a note to not get a 360 ever), see how my collection would change in the present time. Still, Borders didn't carry Banana Fish or Basara or Firefighter Daigo, and the internet was still so-so on information hunting (and my connection was slow), I didn't have any good ways of finding out about these series. Meanwhile, Tokyopop had ads for Princess Ai all over the place, what's a stupid teenager to do?

But yeah, my teen self wouldn't have appreciated Banana Fish anyway, so in some ways, I'm glad I waited. But now, I see Viz making a major effort to appeal to now older readers with the Sig line and stuff, and it makes me question why things like Banana Fish or Sanctuary aren't being reprinted for the Sig line. If Banana Fish got an omnibus, I'd have to buy those too, even if I already own the series (and adore it, but how could I resist? Seriously!) I've actually had a marvelous dream where Viz did put out omnibuses for Banana Fish and I eagerly braved to the store to get them! I was quite upset to wake up that morning....
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vashfanatic



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 3309
Location: Back stateside

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:57 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
"Two not-so-nice-people indulge in nonstop violence and misogyny, then the reader realizes that this author previously wrote Lone Wolf and Cub and begins drinking away his sorrow."

OMG, the author of Lone Wolf and Cub wrote something full of violence and misogyny? HOW SHOCKING!! /sarcasm mode

This has long been on my "need to read list," thanks for pushing it back up to the top again.
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Alan45
Village ElderVillage Elder


Joined: 25 Aug 2010
Posts: 3439
Location: Virginia

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:15 pm Reply with quote
I read Banana Fish while I was still buying Pulp magazine. I couldn't get into it and didn't bother to buy the trades when they came out. I still don't see the appeal. Not for me I guess.

I eventually quit buying Pulp a while before it closed as I realized that I really didn't like anything in the magazine and a couple of series really bothered me.
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Nadare Xizos



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
Posts: 59
Location: The Heero Hole

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:14 pm Reply with quote
Great article and manga. It's one of my favorite titles. It's quite telling that while the gang-related story is a big part of the manga, people remember the platonic romance between Ash and Eiji the most.
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rheiders



Joined: 05 Jul 2011
Posts: 1004
Location: Colorful Colorado :)

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:36 pm Reply with quote
I don't like crime stories very much (there are exceptions, but it's really not my genre), so I always avoided this one. This review has convinced me I should give it a shot! Time to go start collecting the...oh.

Btw, this is perhaps a bit (incredibly) cliche, but "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" is one of my favorite short stories. I reread that collection all the time. :3
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katscradle



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 124

PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:07 pm Reply with quote
Alan45 wrote:
I read Banana Fish while I was still buying Pulp magazine. I couldn't get into it and didn't bother to buy the trades when they came out. I still don't see the appeal. Not for me I guess.

I eventually quit buying Pulp a while before it closed as I realized that I really didn't like anything in the magazine and a couple of series really bothered me.


Gee, I feel glad to see someone else who feels less than enthusiastic about Banana Fish. Something about it turned me off and I've never figured out exactly what. (The 80s to early 90s is the period of Japanese comics that I seem to have a soft spot for.) With the incredible praise and even lengthy critical analysis for Banana Fish coming from nearly all corners I've considered trying to start over again. But, the last time I went against my intuition to revisit another popular and praised series I severely regretted it.


Quote:

Which will be the next dream manga to be translated: Milk Morizono's sex stories? Murasaki Yamada's classic shojo manga? Or Seiki Tsuchida's Henshû-ô, "King of Editors"? Like Akimi Yoshida, I know Fred Schodt wouldn't steer me wrong.


Oh, how I wish Milk Morizono could be published more outside Japan! It's so sad. I think there has only been one of her titles released in English and being digital a lot of people probably wouldn't pay attention to it.
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sunflower



Joined: 04 Sep 2005
Posts: 552

PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:02 pm Reply with quote
I don't really agree with people who think that less romance and more subtlety makes everything more romantic. Lots of folks seem to think that overt romanticism is an inferior depiction of love and romance, but to me it just seems that those are people who have been indoctrinated into the ideals of the writers of the 1920's and 30's who suddenly decided that this (what they considered to be "female" approaches to fictional stories) were naturally inferior. It's a theme that's lasted even until today, where literature isn't allowed to express vivid emotions, especially positive ones, without taking critical hits for it. I always see it as a sexist idea coming from very sexist roots.

That's not to say this isn't a great manga. I just don't think that the way the author depicted their relationship is necessarily great for any story but this one. Every story has a best way to show things, and Banana Fish found it for what the author was portraying.
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Graceful Nanami



Joined: 24 Aug 2011
Posts: 197
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 5:59 am Reply with quote
Banana Fish.

It's really difficult to convey in words how amazing this manga is. There are things wrong with it and odd things that don't seem to fit but it doesn't matter. It's beautiful and ugly and hit you like a boulder powerful and so unique.

The epilogue is one of the most emotionally wonderful things I've ever read in realistic fiction, I think. I will forever be grateful to Viz for translating this. I wish I could read Private Opinion... These 19 books will never leave my shelves.
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Ingraman



Joined: 07 Feb 2005
Posts: 927

PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:53 pm Reply with quote
Graceful Nanami wrote:
These 19 books will never leave my shelves.

That would be an awkward reading position, wouldn't it?
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