Banana Fish is known as a shōjo manga. A shōjo manga is the term given to describe a manga that has been created for girls who are between thirteen and eighteen years of age. It was created by Akimi Yoshida and ran for a very long time, from 1985 until 1994. Three spin-offs were created from the original manga named Angel Eyes, The garden with Holy Light and Private Opinion. The popular series ran 19 volumes and is still known as one of the greatest, classic mangas to come out of Japan.
Banana fish starts set in the Vietnam War, in 1973. A group of American soldiers are taking some well-deserved relaxation time, when suddenly one of them, named Griffin Callenreese, jumps up and starts shooting down his fellow soldiers. Max Glenreed, another soldier, stops Griffin by shooting his legs out. Griffin manages to say “banana fish” before he passes out from loss of blood. Griffin then goes into what is known as a semi-vegetative state. He is able to speak briefly on occasion, but only says “banana fish”.
Fast forward 12 years. It is now 1985 and Ash, who is Griffin’s younger brother, is a gang leader in New York City. He has managed to gain a lot of respect and is backed up by a powerful Corsican mafia boss named Papa Dino Golzine. Meanwhile, there are dozens of strange suicides popping up all over New York City. Charles Dickinson and Antonio Jenkins are the cops assigned to figure out exactly what is going on with the suicides. They are also drafted to show two Japanese reporters how to get around New York City. Charlie goes to the airport and meets Shunichi Ibe, the reporter, and his assistant Eiji Okumura. They are investigating the syndicate that is underworld youth crime, and are focusing on the mob that is headed by Ash.
It turns out that Ash is a little too busy to handle an interview. A man, who is clearly dying, walks into his arms and whispers “go to banana fish” before he dies. He also gives Ash a glass vial that holds a strange substance. It is because of this vial that Ash becomes twisted up in a mystery that includes not only his mob, but the Corsican mafia, the Chinese mafia, and the military from more than one continent.