The final scene is likely to be hard to digest, and that’s why I’m sharing some of my thoughts on the story.
There’s no “right” method to view it, however, it’s significantly more nuanced than what it appears since it’s the result of the entirety of the events of the entire series.
Did Ash die at the end of Banana Fish?
Ash is said to die after Lao stabbed him in the manga. In the anime, Ash gets stabbed and falls “asleep” in the library.
The banana fish website colors the character’s pictures black and white when a character dies, and Ash’s character still seems to have color.
The creators suggested that it’s an open ending story, meaning it’s up to the viewer to decide whether Ash is alive or dead.
Many fans including myself, would hope he is alive safe, and sound in Japan with Eiji.
Ash’s decision to die could appear to be contrary to his statement in episode 13 in which Ash states,
“I’ve never been afraid of the death of my loved ones, however, I’ve also never dreamed of it.”
There were occasions when a portion of Ash thought that death was the better option and, like what Ash said, he has did not actively seek death.
However, it was demonstrated, as in episode 18 that he’d decide to commit suicide in a flash to protect Eiji and the end isn’t any more different.
This interpretation is based on the story “A perfect day for a banana fish” written by J.D. Salinger. The story’s name is the inspiration for the series, as well as the novel “In the Catcher’s Rye” as well as the final episode’s name and reference for the final visuals of the whole second season.
The main theme in “A perfect day for the Banana fish” is the fact that Seymour, the principal character is a martyr so that an innocent child, Sybil, can lead an entire life without him.
“The Catcher in the Rye” is notable for its themes of sacrifice and safeguarding of innocence.
After Ash is stabbed with a knife by Lao, Ash realizes that there are still enemies to him and that should Eiji was to return to America to search for his attacker, Eiji would be in danger once more.
One way of completely ensuring the safety of Eiji is to ensure that the target of people’s hatred is gone so that nobody would have any reason to attack Eiji once more.
Thus, Ash sacrifices himself so that Eiji is never wounded ever again.
Ash also requested God in the last episode to save Eiji’s life to his, and an alternative interpretation could as Ash acknowledging God responding to his prayers and accepting the cost that must be paid to make Eiji recover.
Fate and Ash’s Character
A more popular, superficial view of the conclusion could be that Ash realizes that he will never escape his fate, so the man gives up to seek peace. I disagree strongly with this view.
Destiny is a notion that this show explores through the characters who have been victims of Ash.
The reason that abuse and destiny are interspersed in the story of Banana Fish is that sexual assault in this show is often portrayed as the result of someone abusing their power, which leads to the victim not having control over their circumstances similar to the idea that individuals have no control over their fate.
The characters who metaphorically symbolized destiny throughout the story included Dino and others who were part of the Corsican Mafia-like Kippard as well as Foxx.
The characters who were abusive to Ash and imposed their own will on him at various times in the story; where both the past and the future Ash wanted to get away from.
But none of them gave the “fatal” punch to Ash. The dead are all gone.
Ash changed his life and liberated himself from the chains of his violent history. He was not afraid of the end of his journey.
It is also important to note that the fact Ash was not wounded in the vitals is also a sign that Ash was in control of his fate. What then is the reason Ash choose to die?
To solve this issue we must examine how Banana Fish mirrors the story Ash told Eiji about before his final battle against Arthur: “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.”
This short story functions as an analogy for Ash’s path towards freedom because every step he takes to beat Dino will lead him to climb higher to the top of the hill.
After he has reached his goal and has a consequence for his actions which prevent him from going down. An odd interpretation, however, asks: Is Ash either a leopard or human?
As viewers, we’re in the position of deciding whether Ash truly is a leopard or a human. I believe that the majority of us agree with Eiji’s viewpoint that Ash was a victim and a human being who deserves an opportunity to get a second chance.
However, in the eyes of Ash, the world was a beast and leopard who didn’t merit redemption. In many works from American writing which Banana Fish references, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is the only one that Ash can talk about because it’s how he thinks about his life.
The distorted view Ash believes he has about himself is one reason why it’s a good ending in the terms of Ash’s character.
The death of Ash, while not specifically stated, could be seen as suicide. This is further begging questions like “How did it all come from this?” or “Why did this take place?” The primary cause to the cause is “Words.”
Words can be devastating and impact people in ways that we aren’t willing to admit. The death of Ash could’ve been avoided however, words caused irreparable harm.
If Yut-Lung hadn’t been able to blackmail Lao and his gang members and if Sing had been a more effective leader and solved the conflict between Lao and Sing fairly, Lao did not have called Ash an abomination, even if Blanca was not accusing Ash of dragging Eiji in the loop, things could have gone differently.
Cain as well as Jessica’s innocent remark that Ash could be fine in the future stop him from getting the assistance he required.
None of the characters are in any way responsible for the incident and should not be blamed for having fallen victim to this tragedy, however, every single interaction could have made a difference.
The cracks in Ash’s mindset began to manifest when he renounced all of his efforts for the safety of Eiji and suffered a breakdown of his mind at the Golzine mansion during episode 19.
In the aftermath, no matter as he tried to not reveal it, and no matter how hard Eiji tried to recover from it his state of mind spiraled downward until it reached the lowest point of his life when Eiji was shot.
Ash does not fully recover from the incident due to the consequences and he walks the edge until Lao ends the last straw by adding guilt. The conclusion is the culmination of the little pieces that eventually landed on Ash.
Ash is robust and resilient. However, even the most powerful of us will falter and fall – nobody is perfect.
Lao as the person who will stab Ash is crucial to the plot of Banana Fish. In the bigger picture of the narrative, Lao is not connected with Dino and the Corsican Mafia and, therefore, is not tied to the story’s notion of destiny.
Lao belongs to the Chinese group and is a part of an organization called the Chinese syndicate.
The characters associated with the Chinese Mafia focus on the theme of love, and the darker side that goes with it.
The most prominent example of this is Yut-Lung who is without love, Lao, who only has a love for his brother, and Sing who is a lover of all equally.
Lao’s initial resentment towards Ash stemmed from his affection for Sing and his inability to allow the control of his older brother by someone else.
However, his dislike grew into hatred after Ash was planning to kill Sing during his rampage after Eiji was killed. To make matters even more difficult, Ash wounded Lao when Lao tried to defend Sing.
At the end of the day, Lao’s animosity and violent actions toward Ash resulted from his affection for Sing.
In the words, Lao stated, in an excerpt from his manga “I could not let you murder Sing.” The dark aspect of love, specifically the cost of protecting someone you love has played a part in the death of Ash, not destiny or the consequences.
But, Ash saw it as the result of karma. The reality that Ash passed away in the library, which is described as the place he visits “when he desires to be in a quiet place,” is symbolic.
Lao’s actions caused Ash to feel lonely and on in the end the fact that it shattered his self-esteem and self-worth to the level of the weight of a boulder.
The self-loathing and shame Ash had was all echoed when he was brutally wounded by someone he injured.
Furthermore, Eiji had just recently had a gunshot, and in his heart, he was resentful of Shorter’s death not only for firing the gun and letting it go but also for giving in and accepting Shorter to be involved in the whole ordeal.
Ash was adamant about the whole thing. He believed that he was due death, and believed that death is “karma” for all of the “mistakes” that he committed. He’s the leopard at the top of that mountain, and a creature who isn’t worthy of redemption.
Banana Fish is a tale of two half. The story of Aslan And Ash and the relationship the two souls had. Aslan was the part Eiji has worked to bring to life – the child who gradually let himself be content despite the weight of the past that weighed him down.
Ash is the person that we most saw as the mature person who slowly dissolved from the guilt that he carried. Aslan was exiled by Eiji’s note, only to be hit by Lao within a few minutes.
Throughout the entire story, Eiji was a tether that helped to keep Aslan from completely disappearing as Ash was nearing the edge of the ocean.
With Eiji with him this time around, Lao was the last test to determine whether Ash was able to hold on to Aslan on his own.
Can Ash truly be a man?
Banana Fish refers to the terrible loss that strikes people who believe they’re not worthy of love. It also draws focus to the significance of personal mental well-being.
Ash loved his loved ones so tenderly and deeply that he’d constantly blame himself in the process. Ash can smile because he’s content knowing that Eiji was and is protected.
And he does it without thinking about happiness on his own because Ash was unable to forgive himself for his “misdeeds;” he believed that he didn’t deserve a happy ending.
Ash was a victim to himself. the self-destructive and sacrificed mentality dictate his destiny but it wasn’t necessary to be this way if he could have overcome his shortcomings.
There are many different ways that Banana Fish is about love and those who have a dark side that harms people when we attempt to safeguard our loved ones.
It is also on the positive side which brings others joy and healing. It’s about people who didn’t know love, and also about people who discovered it. It’s also about self-love, and how to love ourselves, despite our flaws and flaws.
If only Ash had a sense of self-love and realized how important he was to himself and to be true to himself. If he had this, it would not have resulted in this manner.
In all likelihood I have provided two interpretations I have come up with and there are many more I haven’t even touched on.
I blend the two interpretations I offered as I believe the ending was the result of Ash’s sacrificed tendencies and self-loathing.
What do you think of the final scene?
The ending is just one of the many aspects of Banana Fish that is open to all interpretations.
According to the perception of each person, the message that it conveys could be positive or negative.
However, it is important to recognize that it is good and bad, it’s a dichotomy, similar to the dichotomy present throughout the story.
What would you change about the ending of Banana Fish?
Ash ought to have lived. I don’t mean to be negative, but the end was lovely, but it was most tragic. The story doesn’t make sense.
It seemed to me as if it was a force. The author herself stated that she viewed the characters in her novels as literary devices this is the reason she would kill them off.
Ash’s death is not in line with his persona. In the letter he received, Eiji told him that the individual could alter his destiny.
Why would he want to die “peacefully” when his “soulmate,” told him that to him?
Ash has also stated that If Eiji were still in Japan and he was sick, he would be concerned and would not have allowed himself to be killed for this reason too. Ash has also been in the worst conditions than a tiny cut.
You might think that it’s impossible to tell whether he’d be satisfied with the writer’s words, however, Ash was able to remind Eiji of his joy and the letter was certainly not an end-of-the-world letter. It was merely a reminder of the way he’ll remain with him “forever”.
Let me add that changing the ending could have extended the story, and also paved the way for a sequel.
which would be beneficial to the author as well as MAPPA studios since BF was a huge success both as an anime as well as manga. I hope they are right with the anime.
The show was said to be unique. The end of the series was unfinished with the animator dropping a lot of clues suggesting the possibility that Ash existed. It is completely plausible if he lived; Ash has been known to test the boundaries of what is thought to be humanly plausible.
There are plot holes that could be the reason for the mystery. I hope they alter the outcomes from Episode 24 to have enough material to create an additional season. It shouldn’t be a problem.
Animation studios are known for their hit show “Yuri On Ice” which is an original animated series that has no manga counterpart. They have the resources to present the viewers with a compelling narrative in BF Season 2.
The storyline is all about the right of permission because the creator stood by the ending. After all, the director and studio were not happy with the way it ended as does a significant portion of the BF fans.