Even if he has to risk his life for someone he met very recently, Eiji will see things through to the end.
I’m not sure where I fall with regard to the lede sentence. On the one hand, it’s very admirable that Eiji will 1) help Ash get away from the authorities 2) get himself armed for a hit job on a mob boss and 3) actually participate in the hit job on a mob boss, all for someone he met a few days (maybe a couple of weeks?) beforehand.
On the other hand, seriously?
We’re obviously dealing with a fictional story, whose characters are at the whim of whatever the author decided (way back in 1985-1994), but even then there’s a small leap of faith that the audience has to take to get on board with the character motivations and behaviors. Eiji just met Ash in episode 1, and while the sense of time isn’t pinned down, that much time couldn’t have passed between then and now. Yes, Eiji had great chemistry with Ash from the get-go, and as the show continued it was evident there was a strong sense of trust between the two male leads, but was it enough trust that Eiji would actually go through the actions he did in this episode?
The more I think about it, yeah, I guess I do believe in Eiji’s actions, or at the very least, I want to believe.
Eiji gets a bit more back story revealed in the episode, telling Ash and Shorter that he used to be a pole jumper but ceased doing so when he sustained an injury to his ankle. Even after healing up, he didn’t pursue pole jumping again, so Ibe takes Eiji along to the States. I can definitely see where Eiji is coming from in wanting to help his peer. For one thing, Eiji did get tailed and the subsequent gun fight cost Ash his brother, so there’s definitely guilt there (as Ash points out), but there’s also the idea that Eiji can actually do something meaningful to help someone accomplish their goal, even if that goal is to kill Papa Dino. Eiji got wrapped up into the Ash-Dino war when he got kidnapped at the end of episode 1, and understandably wants to see things through to the end. I think that’s a very reasonable, very relatable characteristic (wanting to follow through and see something to the end, not getting kidnapped). As a result, everything in the episode does click into place once you get on board with Eiji being a stand up guy and wanting to see the end.
Speaking of clicking into place, wow did this episode have a lot of moving parts, and no where was it more evident than in the opening sequence where it jumps from Ash getting his bail, and Eiji/Dino both getting the news that Ash is coming out. Normally, having a few separate character groups follow their own plot can severely slow things down, but thankfully in this narrative all the groups were headed toward a single point: the restaurant that serves as a cover for Dino Golzine’s human trafficking schemes. As a result, everything flowed quite smoothly into the episode’s big gun fight and by the end of it, the “good guys” regrouped to plan their next steps while the Golzine double downs on capturing Ash (with a creepy look on his face that even scared Arthur).
The episode also gives another hint to what Banana Fish is; obviously we (the audience) knew it was a drug of some kind, but Dino says it’ll change the world? That’s a bit worrisome.
Artistry-wise, the episode had a low point for me at the start, where Max explains to his lawyer buddy about letting it slip that Griff, Ash’s brother, is dead. His movements felt stiff and it looked like the sequence was missing a few frames. On the other hand, Eiji stealing the car? Great sequence.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the end shot at all, with Ash on the rooftop mourning his brother’s death. We saw him shed a few tears last episode in jail, and he even stated that he knew his brother was gone, but now it really hit him that he’s going to be facing a new day without his brother’s presence anymore. It was quiet, somber, and just plain sad. Like I said last time, sometimes sad sequences can be very melodramatic, with big musical numbers to hammer the feeling home, but sometimes the best sad sequences just let the characters quietly mourn in their own way.
Thankfully, Ash isn’t alone in his fight against Golzine. He’s got Eiji, Shorter and Max with him, and while Shorter is doing it out of loyalty, while Max is investigating Banana Fish out of his duty to Griff (and journalism), Ash has a new friend that’ll see things through all the way to the end, even if it might kill him.
Banana Fish is currently airing on Amazon Prime.
Missed last week’s review? Check it out below.