Modern Visual Culture

Recommended Works

Banana Fish


Mangaka: Akimi Yoshida 吉田 秋生
Born: 12th of Aug, 1956
Original Publisher: Shogakukan
English Language Publisher: Viz Media
Published: May 1985 to April 1994
Status: Finished
Number of Volumes: 19
Serialized: Betsucomi ベツコミ
Genre: Coming of Age, Crime
Demographic: shojo

Banana Fish ranks as one of the most popular shojo manga of all time, yet at first glance it doesn’t look like a shojo manga at all.

At the center of Bananfish is Ash Lynx, a runaway who was sexually abused by "Papa" Dino Golzine, a ruthless mafia leader. Now set to be the heir to Golzine’s mafia empire, the beautiful and rebellious 17-year old stumbles across a clue that might let him in on the hideous secret that drove his older brother insane in Vietnam. To discover the truth, Ash will have to struggle against a massive conspiracy stretching from the Mafia to the very heights of power.

A further complication is Eiji Okamura, a pure-hearted young Japanese photographer who dares to enter Ash’s dangerous world. As their relationship deepens, will Eiji be destroyed by the thrilling but dangerous Ash?

The manga paints a portrait of NYC in the height of the decadent 80s - a corrupt city full of drugs, violence, corruption, and material excess.

A hard crime pulp story full of violence and dominated by male characters seems hardly the stuff of shojo manga, but the subtle BL themes, particularly the relationship between Eiji and Ash, are shojo all the way.
Background & Impact
Banana Fish consistently ranks at the top of readers' polls for best shojo manga.

Several spin-off stories were later released.

The manga has yet to be adapted into an anime, although a drama CD was released.