REVIEW: Banana Fish (Episode 16)

Episode 16: Lo, the Poor Peacock | 哀しみの孔雀

After a brief foray into science fiction, Banana Fish is back to what it’s best at: setting Ash loose in dungeons so he can kick ass, smash the patriarchy, and make everyone else look utterly incompetent in the process.

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That feeling when your friends claim “cool doctor” and “corpse-in-a-gurney” and so the only costume left is sexy nurse

Ash has escaped his cell, but still needs to navigate the labyrinthine basement science dungeon of the National Mental Health Institute. Don’t worry. He’s got a gun, so literally nothing in this world could possibly stop him. But he decides to take the stealth route instead of ambush, so shimmies his way through vents and elevator shafts. He picks up more loot along the way: old Professor Dawson, who’s been jacked up with Banana Fish 2.0 Chill Edition. Dawson may not be much of a scientist anymore, but will nonetheless provide crucial evidence for a staggering hypothesis: the White House fucked with the wrong teenager.

The demoted Dino Golzine watches the Great Escape from the bleachers, behind his mafia replacement Baron and “But I’m only a scientist” Dr. Mannerheim. Dino smirks as Dr. Mannerheim stammers orders to his security team to recapture Ash while Baron pretends to help. For a change, it’s not Dino on the receiving end of Ash’s antics, and he’s pleased as punch to watch Ash bulldoze through their state-of-the-art security, dropping bodies left and right as he does. As he does, Baron’s tone changes from “dude, just capture the kid” to “Oh God, kill it with fire!” pretty quickly.

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Dino brags so much about how he maxed out Ash’s stats and secretly seems so delighted whenever Ash cracks skulls and destroys shit, I’m not convinced Dino actually wants Ash dead.

Conveniently, Max and Shunichi are also in the building on a special public tour and secret mission to save Ash. Or not conveniently, because everything they do after infiltrating the staff-only section manages to make things tougher for Ash – causing elevator-shaking fistfights while Ash is hiding in the shaft, knocking a guard down the garbage chute that Ash is trying to climb up from which knocks him and Dawson back down to the massive dump pile, and finally, getting their asses captured. Thanks, dudes.

After expending most of his energy points in upper body strength and lugging around a nearly vegetative Professor Dawson, Ash climbs to freedom and into the outside yard of the facility – only to see Max and Shunichi getting marched back in at gunpoint. Ash is pretty damn close to saying fuck it and letting them fend for themselves, but like a nasty parasite, that thing called a conscience eats away at his insides and he breaks back into the building for the rescue.

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Well, it’s the thought that counts.

Reunited, they need to escape again. This, naturally, involves Ash cross-dressing like a nurse. (I’m assuming “nurse” and not doctor, because even though this anime is allegedly set in the year 2018, all the women wear little white dresses with little white hats instead of, you know, scrubs.) And naturally, Ash instantly gets perved on by a doctor. They yoink an ambulance and finally escape, with Dawson in hand. It’s finally at this point that Ash realizes something is amiss: we haven’t seen Eiji all damn episode. Shunichi and Max admit he’s been missing and they haven’t seen him in awhile.

And even though he just escaped a top-secret facility that planned to lobotomize him, hasn’t slept and is still sporting a recent stab wound, he jumps out of the vehicle to go find Eiji. Because that’s love, ladies and gentlemen.

Meanwhile, Dino, after letting Baron flail around uselessly, decides now is probably the appropriate time to…

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…shoot his ass. Glorified extra, confirmed.

10/10, WOULD LOL AGAIN

This episode was comedy gold. Banana Fish is in its element when it’s fast-paced, and when its humor snaps along with its action scenes, the combo is deadly. From Max’s “They’re definitely not going to kill us or anything” line juxtaposed to Baron’s “Kill them“, to Ash falling down the garbage chute, or to Ash’s total infuriated exasperation about saving Max and Shunichi, Episode 16 was an absolute gem.

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A little uncharitable to include Eiji, but he does bring up a good point. In Banana Fish, there is a definite reverse correlation with age and capability. Ash is 18, Yut-Lung is presumably around 16, and that little street pirate Sing is only 14. You know what they say: the taller they get, the harder they fall!

Humor is tough to pull off in a serious story. When things get funny, the stakes generally drop. Once Ash was wearing fake DD boobs and a 1950’s nurse outfit, it was no longer really likely that Dino was going to swoop in and apprehend him. Surely no one’s life was in danger, beyond the extras. Furthermore, Ash’s escape veered toward cartoonish rather than intense, a stark shift from the portrayal of his escape from Dino’s mansion.

That being said, we’ve had a long run of serious episodes and dramatic interludes, which made this episode a delightful change of pace. The comedic tone is apropos with some of the earlier humor we’ve had, and Banana Fish does a pretty good job of shifting tonally as needed. At any rate, there is still plenty of time to get serious again, with Dino rising back to the top of his game and Yut-Lung positioning himself for the offense.

SPEAKING OF EIJI…

This episode has a disturbing lack of Best Boy. Eiji’s only cameo was in the credits. We almost went an excruciating entire episode without any gay, until Ash jumped ship with mere seconds to spare. Ash is planning another heroic rescue, but may be a little disappointed to learn that Eiji’s just kicking it with Sing right now.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This episode was a step up from the heavy exposition drop of last episode. Though we’ve seen it time and time again, Ash single-handedly crushing the odds never gets old. I had hoped that Eiji and Ash would be reunited again, but it seems we have to build their reconciliation up a little more – remembering, of course, that the last time Ash saw Eiji, it was right after he killed Arthur and tried (unsuccessfully) to deport Eiji back to Japan. Finally, with some of these boring extras like Baron out of the way, hopefully that opens the spotlight back up to Yut-Lung, who – actual tangible accomplishments aside – remains the most intriguing villain in the series.

WHERE TO WATCH IT (LEGALLY): Amazon Prime

Next: Episode 17
Previous: Episode 15

 

5 thoughts on “REVIEW: Banana Fish (Episode 16)”

  1. This was a delightful episode. I’m not entirely sure the incompetence of everyone in the facility is credible, but I definitely had a few good laughs this week and I absolutely loved Ash’s temper tantrum when he realised he’d have to break back into the facility he just escaped from in order to rescue Max and Shunichi.

    Liked by 1 person

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