Banana Fish, a shoujo manga series that ran from 1985 to 1994 in the magazine Bessatsu Shoujo Comic, is widely credited as "revolutionizing" the shoujo genre to include more mature, adult themes, and to win a large male crossover audience. Banana Fish certainly was not the first manga to include the genre stereotypes of handsome, angsty bishounen and steamy boy-on-boy sexuality that we still see in more adult-oriented shoujo titles today. But it was among the first to marry pretty-boy bishounen with a simple, action-oriented style of artwork and a hard-boiled, violence-filled plot. This series is a classic of the genre, and its appeal still remains today, as evidenced by the continuing success of the English translated version published by Viz LLC.
Banana Fish opens in 1973, during the Vietnam War. In Dong Tham, a group of American soldiers are relaxing during a moment of relative peace . . . Until one of them suddenly goes crazy and starts gunning down his comrades. One of the soldiers, Max Glenreed, manages to stop the killer by riddling his legs with bullets. The doomed soldier, named Griffin Callenreese, collapses to the ground, and gasps out the words "Banana Fish."
Griffin survives in a nearly vegetative state for many years afterwards, and the only words he ever utters are "Banana Fish."
Ironically, the term might have something to do with J.D. Salinger's short story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," in which the "Bananafish" (a species of fish) is known as the "fish of death."
Fast forward to New York City, 1985. Griffin's younger brother, Ash, is a revered and respected gang leader on the meanest streets of the city. His power is backed by Papa Dino Golzine, a Corsican mafia boss who doubles as Ash's personal tutor, and sexual tormentor, in his free time.
A rash of inexplicable "suicides" is sweeping the city, and the NYPD's finest, Charles Dickinson and Antonio Jenkins, are on the case. But both cops have another problem to worry about - a pair of Japanese reporters are coming to town and need someone to guide them around the streets. This duty was supposed to fall to Charlie's friend, Max Lobo - only Max is, at the moment, in jail. Thus, Charlie meets the reporters, Shunichi Ibé and his young assistant Eiji Okumura, and promises to lead them, for the purposes of their investigative journalism, into the underworld of the youth crime syndicate led by Ash.
The problem is that Ash doesn't exactly have time to entertain his foreign guests. A dying man crawls into his arms and whispers the words, "Go to Banana Fish," depositing a glass vial into Ash's hands. With this small sample of a mysterious substance, Ash is about to become entangled in a mystery that involves every person close to him, the entire Corsican mafia, the Chinese mafia, the US military, and a conspiracy of a truly global scale.
This is only the beginning of an epic crime saga that spans ten years of serialized manga. Banana Fish is an adult story saturated with violence, sex, drugs, and foul language. Basically, it's not for kids. ^^ But the backbone of the story is really the same basic themes that can be found in any shoujo series - friendship, loyalty, trust, sacrifice, believing in yourself, and facing your fears. And yes, there's even romantic love. Most important of all is the achingly sweet love that grows with an almost agonizing slowness between Ash and Eiji.
The purpose of this site is to not only serve as an resource for Banana Fish information, but also to hopefully introduce more interested readers to this incredible, addictive, amazing story.