Banana Fish has gathered a passionate fandom, despite its gritty and tragic themes.
What makes this series so beloved is that its protagonist gives voice to the ways that sexual assault affects people.
Ash’s characterization and Eiji’s unyielding support tugs on the audience’s heartstrings and converts them into ardent viewers.
This anime is my top go-to recommendation, and perhaps it might be a little sadistic of me, but it is always a delight to see the series affecting others the same way.
Banana Fish’s unfair gritty realism that resulted in its tragic ending brings unwelcome amounts of angst and haunts its audience to this day.
What little consolation the fans have is the recent change on Banana Fish’s website. On the site, while every dead character was grayscaled, including Ash, the latter’s status was recently marked unknown.
This brings us to the question, is Ash truly dead? Is there any chance that the boy will get his happy ending, and finally soothe the pain in our hearts? Let’s find out!
1. Does Ash Die in Banana Fish?
The last episode of Banana Fish ties all the loose ends. The hostages are rescued, Foxx and Golzine are killed, and all evidence of the Banana Fish project is destroyed.
Furthermore, Sing decides not to fight Ash and convinces Yut-Lung to end his pursuit of them.
As Eiji leaves for Japan, and Ash walks towards the library while reading the letter the former left him, everything is seemingly going well, i.e., until Ash gets stabbed.
In the manga, after being stabbed, Ash goes to the library to continue reading Eiji’s letter and dies by bleeding out there.
In the anime, his status is known, and the ending is left open, as proven by MAPPA. However, according to the source material, it is assumed that he has indeed died.
2. Who Killed Him?
While Ash and Sing were supposed to fight to the death, in the end, they decided not to.
However, it turned out that Lao was not aware of the truce between them. In order to protect Sing, he stabbed Ash, who was distracted by Eiji’s letter.
After getting stabbed, Ash shoots Lao and goes to the library to continue to read Eiji’s letter.
After a while, he rests his head on it, and the series concludes. While the ending is left open, it is assumed that Ash died.
3. Why Didn’t Ash Seek Help?
Ash died after he finished Eiji’s letter. This means that was quite some time when he could have sought help, and thus possibly prevented his death. The question then is, why did he not do so?
In volume 12 of the manga, Ash said these few lines that perfectly provide the answer to this question.
“Just leave me alone, I’m happy. There’s at least one person in this world who cares about me, who doesn’t want anything from me. Do you have any idea what that’s like? I never did. Not once in my entire life until now. And that’s worth more to me than anything else. It is better to be destroyed than living a life on a stage set and pretending its real.”Ash Lynx
Ash was willing to let himself be destroyed for the sake of his and Eiji’s happiness.
Letting Eiji go was the hardest thing Ash ever had to do, it took all of his restraint not to run after him to the airport and look how easily that changed after reading his letter.
While we all, and Ash himself, thought that everything was over and that he could leave for a new life with Eiji in Japan, it proved to be nothing but a simple fleeting moment of innocence and hope.
Despite being forced into this violent life, Ash was a part of it, and tragedy would always find him.
The reason why Ash did not seek help and chose his death was that no matter how much he and Eiji tried to be happy together, something or the other would always come to threaten it.
After having a taste of what true happiness felt like, Ash did not want to lose it. He did not want to go through the pain of having it snatched from him again.
Due to this, Ash died thinking of Eiji and knowing that the latter’s soul would always be with him.
In his final moments, he knew that the man he loved was safe, and that was all Ash wanted; this was his happiness.
4. Why Did Ash Have to Die in the End?
In an interview with Yoshida, the creator of Banana Fish, she laid out her reasons for why Ash was always meant to die in the end.
She said that even though her protagonists are forced into a way of life, and they kill because otherwise they’d be killed, in the end, they’re still murderers.
People who take another person’s life need to make up for it with their own life. Due to this, in the end, Ash had to die.
Yoshida further said that her original theme for Banana Fish was that there’s something tragic about people who die young, like how Ash lived his full life in 17 years rather than the 70 years.
He suffered, loved, and experienced more than what a normal person would in their entire time span. He lived his life, and it only made sense for it to end at some point.
5. About Banana Fish
Banana Fish follows Ash Lynx, a 17-year-old boy who comes across a man who has been murdered.
The last words uttered by that man, “Banana Fish,” hurls Ash across an exciting, tragic, and destined journey towards finding out its meaning.
With Eiji Okamura -a pure-hearted young photographer from Japan, to keep him company, hideous secrets will be revealed as Ash will forsake the kingdom held out by the devil-like human who raised him.