We begin with Ash and friends still in Los Angeles at the home of Dr. Alexis Dawson, one of the creators of Banana Fish. When Ash and Max are drawn away by a threat against Max’s family, Chinese mafia member Yut-Lung exorcises his influence over Ash’s friend, Shorter, and kidnaps Eiji, taking him back to New York to become Papa Golzine’s new plaything. Of course, the beautiful Yut-Lung is immediately turned into a tool by his own brother, who sends him as a gift for Golzine with the expectation that he’ll also act as spy.
Ash is captured soon thereafter—though not before Alexis Dawson can conveniently return and explain all about the origins of Banana Fish—and everyone reunites at Golzine’s mansion, where the true capabilities of the drug are demonstrated when Shorter, under the influence of Banana Fish, is compelled to attack Eiji, which in turn causes Ash to kill one friend to save another. Yut-Lung, once he sees how horrible Banana Fish truly is, helps Ash escape, leading to an incredibly awesome sequence where Ash raids the armory, gets Eiji and the others to safety, then returns for Shorter’s body and vengeance upon Dr. Abraham Dawson.
There’s really a ton of plot in these two volumes but what stands out to me the most are some amazing scenes involving Ash. I love, for example, how he cries over Shorter’s fate and in sympathy for what’s happening (or going to happen) to those he cares about. It really shows that, though he’s tough and brilliant, and has suffered and been mistreated, he’s not too damaged to love others. I love that so much of what he feels for Eiji is conveyed in simple looks, because there’s not enough time for words. I love that he looks a little confused that Eiji values him so much. And I love how he ignores the pleading of Abraham Dawson and simply empties his gun into the man who is, in a way, ultimately responsible for much of the misery that is Ash’s life.
It’s pretty impressive that Yoshida is not only able to show more facets of her lead character, but also move the plot along significantly, resolving the mystery of Banana Fish, setting up some of its possible ramifications, and blowing wide the scope of the story by showing that the White House and the US military are in cahoots with Papa Golzine.
It seems that the story is going to get a lot bigger than I was expecting—Ash versus the government?—but like his gang, with whom he’s finally reunited, I have faith that he’s going to survive, one way or another.