It’s that time of year again. Karleen and Malia have rounded up their favorite (not necessarily the best) media of the year enough times now it officially has its own tag: Favorites of the Year.
Banana Fish by Akimi Yoshida, at the time of serialization, was once a contemporary story. It began in 1985 and ended in 1994, while the timeline of the main plot spanned from 1985 to 1987. So in a way, modernizing the anime adaptation of Banana Fish to be set in 2018 is appropriate. Rather than a near complete replication of a story set in the 1980s, there can be a parallel story that integrates the ideas and themes to be timely like the original was.
However, updating Banana Fish raises some clear issues. The original manga is deeply 1980s, from its aesthetics to its politics, and if handled without care, you wind up with a story that’s already dated from the very start. It’s one thing for a story to be old; we still have centuries old classics. Plus, our suspension of disbelief can be higher when we know a story was from a different time. However, with an adaptation you’re already setting up a compare and contrast situation, to mix in modernization too, it’s key to think through what needs to be changed, why it needs to be changed, and how that affects the original story. This is different for all kinds of adaptations and renditions, but ultimately it can be done in a lot of fun, unique, creative ways. In the case of Banana Fish though, it’s all about the lack of change. Though the style and technology is there, the story ultimately feels like a rerun in different clothes. This especially feels like a missed opportunity with the legacy that Banana Fish has as a classic manga that tackles heavy social issues.
This isn’t to disparage the work put into the anime or to imply it’s a complete waste. Translating a story to a new medium is difficult work and there are plenty of parts I enjoyed. It’s at least introduced the story to new audiences, including me, and opened up new avenues to discuss it. In this spirit, I want to talk about some of the missed opportunities that the anime passed over when modernizing the manga in the context of the social themes Yoshida touches on. There are some issues that are thoughtfully examined in the manga but would be reflected differently in a modern setting, and other issues that weren’t examined as deeply as they could have been in an adaptation.
Spoiler warning for the end of Banana Fish, including the side story Garden of Light.
Content warning for discussions of police brutality and sexual trauma (including child sex abuse).
Before the manga Banana Fish by Akimi Yoshida, there was her short story “Fly Boy in the Sky.” It marked the first appearance of Banana Fish characters, published a year before Banana Fish entered serialization. In the one shot, 25 year old Ibe comes across a televised high school pole vault competition and decides to track down and photograph teenage Eiji. Ibe’s photography captures Eiji in a moment of grace he doesn’t know he’s capable of. “Garden of Light,” the final Banana Fish short story by Yoshida, shows how Eiji captured Ash with his own camera in turn.
This post contains spoilers for Banana Fish and discussion of child pornography.
Digimon has approached grief throughout its life as a franchise, despite how the eponymous digital monsters are inorganic and may be revived when they die. Digimon Adventure Tri, the second sequel series to the original Digimon Adventure, tried its hand at grief over lost memories.
In Confession, the only chance to save the world from destruction is to perform a “reboot” of the Digital World. It will leave the digimon uninfected by darkness, but without memories from before the reboot. In a series where digimon exist to unconditionally love and support their partners for a lifetime, the loss is immeasurable.
This post contains spoilers for Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure 02, Digimon Adventure Tri and A, A’ by Moto Hagio.
As of today, the anime adaptation of Banana Fish has come to an end. For those looking for a movie to watch or a manga to read to fill the void, look no further.
This post contains spoilers for Banana Fish and discussion of rape, abuse, incest, and suicide.
In Pride Month (June) of this year, Seven Seas announced their license of Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare by Yuhki Kamatani. I’ve followed Shimanami Tasogare, a manga by openly x-gender and asexual mangaka Kamatani about a gay teenager who joins a small community of LGBTQ people, since its first chapter and have looked at it many times on this blog, and its popularity in English-speaking spheres has only increased over time. I regularly look up discussion of it across the Internet to this day.
In the time more people have become aware of Yuhki Kamatani as a creator and Shimanami Tasogare, the English conversation around them has slightly changed. When people rightfully promote Shimanami Tasogare as a story with LGBTQ characters authored by someone LGBTQ, Kamatani’s nonbinary gender is often mentioned… but not their asexuality. When the identities of the cast are listed, the asexual character Anonymous (asexual and aromantic in English terminology) is omitted despite being central to the story. Not only does this leave potential readers uninformed about Kamatani as a person and the content of the manga, but it misses the point of Shimanami Tasogare.
In honor of the publication of the final volume in Japan and the English license from Seven Seas Entertainment, it’s finally time for an in-depth look at Yuhki Kamatani‘s Shimanami Tasogare. The manga follows Tasuku, a teenage boy coming to terms with being gay after a failed suicide attempt. In his hometown of Onomichi, he discovers an LGBTQ-friendly lounge through its aloof owner known only as “Dareka-san” (Anonymous). Over the course of a year, Tasuku comes to know the community of the lounge and their housing renovation organization Cat Clowder.
In Kamatani’s Onomichi, the characters’ surroundings often mirror their states of mind: freedom, confusion, joy, frustration, fear, redemption, and more. As the characters express more of themselves, and to acquaintances, they don’t necessarily come to a better understanding of themself or others. Still, their journeys and relationships to identity reveal many facets of LGBTQ life. Together, they build and maintain community in the face of oppression.
This post contains spoilers for all of Shimanami Tasogare. Do not read it if you wish to remain unspoiled for the English edition coming in May of 2019.
Last year we held a panel at Sakura-con called Beyond Yuri on Ice: LGBTQ Anime and Manga, which was about introducing people to the history of LGBTQ content in anime and more modern series with LGBTQ themes. It’s a lengthy panel and we’ve held it twice now, so we decided to retire it and create a new panel looking to the future for Sakura-con 2018 called Rainbow Releases: LGBTQ Anime and Manga of 2018.
We’re here to tell you all about anime and manga coming out in the US officially to look forward to, because it’s a good year to be an LGBTQ fan. It truly is 20gayteen. Our title in the programming was formally LGBTQ Anime and Manga of 2018, but it’s really more like LGBTQ and Adjacent. There may be an advent of realistic or otherwise specifically LGBTQ work right now, but that would still leave us with only so many to talk about. Please understand that we’ll be including some titles that aren’t as straightforward as My Brother’s Husband, but we think will interest you and bring something new to the table. Sometimes you just have to take what you can get to feel represented or just to feel good, you know?
In my Intro to Devilman, a Demonic Manga Masterwork I said Go Nagai wrote one of the best love stories of all time, and in honor of Valentine’s Day I’d like to explain why. In every iteration of the Devilman franchise, teenage Akira Fudo becomes possessed by a demon. Akira’s heart overcomes the demon and he retains consciousness only in versions where his friend Ryo Asuka exists to guide him, otherwise the demon takes control. By transforming his body to gain strength and save the world from demonic invasion, he’s made “a deal with the Devil” that sacrifices his humanity. Devilman stands apart from the Christian legend of Faust in how it imagines a deal with the Devil as a tragic, horrifying, and enduring romance.
Of course, this post contains spoilers for the original Devilman manga, Devilman Lady, and Devilman Crybaby.