Banana Fish centers on Ash Lynx, a young 17-year-old gang leader in New York who finds himself in the center of a mob war and a conspiracy to create a mind control drug. With that premise, we can expect that the story won't be filled with happiness and laughs. But amidst the tragedy that surrounds Ash, there are five scenes that go beyond to completely break everyone's hearts.
Given the nature of the list, there will be spoilers, so consider this your warning.
5. Ash Being Interrogated About Marvin’s Death.
Ash getting framed for Detective Marvin’s death was bad enough, but the interrogation scene takes the bad situation and turns it up to eleven. First, we get to see first hand how the cops don't really care for the investigation, as they have decided that Ash is guilty. Sure, they found him with the dead body, but at least they could have pretended to try to listen to Ash's side. We only get police brutality and disregard for Ash's rights. But then things get worse as the detective comments on Ash's past as a child prostitute and porn star, and how Marvin knew and harassed Ash… and forces Ash to watch one of the videos where he starred. It's a shocking scene that makes everyone want to hug Ash when understandably he doesn't want anyone touching him ever again.
4. Ash’s Reunion With His Father.
If you're wondering how the series could make something even more heartbreaking than the reveal of Ash's past work before he became a gang member, there's the reunion with his father, Jimmy. The viewers get some time to prepare and know something bad is coming because when the group decides they need to go to Cape Cod to search Griffin's belongings, Ash clearly doesn't want to go, but even that doesn't prepare us for the horror. Jimmy hates his son and doesn't even want to see him. To make things even worse, we find out that it was because a man who, despite being beloved by everyone in town, had raped and killed many kids before, raped Ash when he was 7 years old. And Ash's father told him to just grin, bear it, and charge the man because it would be too much trouble to try to get the cops to do something. And once again, we all just want to hug Ash and get him away from all the horrible people.
3. Griffin and Skipper’s Deaths.
We're putting this in just one entry because they happen quite close to each other so the effects of their deaths just pile up for the characters in the story and the viewers. First comes Skipper, the youngest member of Ash’s gang, who gets shot after being kidnapped in order to make Ash obey Golzine again. His death at Marvin's hands is brutal and the reason the cops have a motive to pin it on Ash so it affects the story for a long time, and it reminds us that no one, not even kids, are safe from violence.
Griffin's death is a different matter. We know that Griffin's life wasn't easy either and that even if he hadn't ended up crazy and catatonic, he’d have suffered some serious PTSD upon returning from Iran. But taking care of Griffin was a big part of Ash’s identity so the fact that he is killed mercilessly while Ash is in jail and can’t defend his big brother is shocking and the moment everyone realizes that there was no way the story would end happily for all the characters.
2. Ash’s Final Moments.
Against all odds, the last half of Banana Fish’s last episode seems to contradict our previous sentence. The gang war is over, the research on Banana Fish is destroyed, and Eiji is returning to Japan. He sends a letter to Ash with a ticket so he can join him at the airport and they can live happily ever after together. Ash smiles as he reads the letter, gets up from the bench where he was sitting, starts running towards the street… and promptly gets stabbed by a furious Lao who even echoes the feelings of the audience asking "Why did you let your guard down now?" We see Ash's final moments as he goes into the NY Library and writes a goodbye letter to Eiji intertwined with Eiji’s happy farewell and promise to come back to Ash in a scene that guarantees there will be no dry eyes among the audience.
1. Shorter Wong’s Death
What could top Ash’s death? Shorter Wong’s execution, and not just because it’s the first domino of the cascade that will end up in Ash’s tragic death. Shorter, who could have been protected by his gang's connections to the Banana Fish's creators, instead chooses to side with his friend and try to help him. And then gets captured with Eiji, strapped into a lab chair and used as a guinea pig. Shorter’s mind starts frying and creating horrible hallucinations, making him believe he is in pain, while his torturer convinces him that the only way to stop the pain is to kill Eiji. Shorter, to his credit, tries to resist and for a small moment, it seems as he could do it. But he knows it won’t be long before he tries again, so he begs Ash to kill him to stop the torture and set him free. Ash obliges and thus, the tragedy is set in stone.
In a story where every character has a tragic past, and the villains basically weaponize their trauma to make their drug more effective, it can be hard to decide which are the most heart-wrenching scenes of the whole plot. Because of that, we want to know, which ones are your personal picks? Do you agree with us or do you have other candidates? Let us know in the comments below.