BANANA FISH Cafe and Bar – New York Night in Tokyo – Event and Merchandise Review – Ash Lynx and Eiji Okumura Acrylic Figure Stands and Drinking Glasses

How’s it going with your 2022 New Year’s Resolution(s)?

Me? Terribly. My main resolution was to blog three times a week, but obviously I haven’t been able to do so, to my shame and consternation. Judging from my pattern of behaviour, I break all my resolutions a few weeks into the new year. 

I’m looking for something or someone to blame other than my laziness and lack of motivation, and came up with:

Instagram. 

For the past few months I’ve been posting there every day (give or take a few missed days due to work commitments), yet it’s made me quite dejected. Dejected because, looking back, posting daily gave me a false sense of personal accomplishment. “Oh, I posted a pic, hooray, my day is done!” 

Instant Gratification

Instead of spending the short time I have after work and before bed to concentrate on my writing/blogging, I spent those precious minutes taking pics, editing, captioning, posting, returning likes… The dopamine hits from likes made me feel as if I did my ‘job’ as a creative, and I could rest on those virtual laurels and call it a day. 

Omotesando Hills shopping complex in Shibuya, Tokyo

But what I really want to do is write. Fooling myself into believing that as long as I wrangle a couple of sentences under my Insta post then I was practising my writing, was a great disservice to my desire to improve as a writer of long-form. In the end, I was just as unproductive and unhappy as ever. 

Instead of writing outlines for a new story or devising clever turns of phrase and thinking of less-cliched versions of, say, “they rode off into the sunset” amongst other idioms and figures of speech, I was spending what was left of my barely functioning brain cells thinking “What will I post on Instagram tonight?” 

Perhaps the source of my Insta-unhappiness is the fact that I only have a handful of followers and am lucky to get more than a dozen likes per post. But then I’ve come upon so many “Why I Left Instagram” essays from disillusioned former influencers, who made me see that having a bazillion followers and sponsors and likes can still leave you feeling empty and utterly miserable. 

Blog of My Own

When I left tumblr a while back, I swore to myself I’d only use social media to post links to my blog. I have this blog now, a real one where I get to write as much as I like about whatever I like, with no censors and word limit. I get to post as many pics as I want in any aspect ratio, and determine whether or not to run ads about what and for how long. 

Entrance of Omotesando Hills

It’s *my* blog, a slice of internet space generously given to me for free by a dear friend and senpai. Yet I spend most of my time ignoring it and instead opting to make Mark Zuckerberg even more of a billionaire by uploading fresh content daily on his platform.

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So I’ve decided not to ‘dramatically’ leave Instagram but only upload pics there when I have a blog article to promote. As in, post a couple of pics on Insta and add a ‘More on my blog, link in bio!” line. If people bite, great! If not, well, I shrug my shoulders and get on with my life. 

It’s what I do on twitter, and what I used to do on Instagram until the cunningly conditioned emotional hunger for likes made me post daily (in fear the algorithm wouldn’t show my posts if I did so irregularly), even when I didn’t feel like posting at all. 

Insta-seesaw

This self-imposed limitation will also prevent me from posting just to get likes. I hate the way I’ve allowed external validation from strangers on social media determine my mood at the end of the day. Bunch of likes? Overjoyed! No likes? Devastated!

It’s pretty asinine, this seesaw of emotions caused by a platform that generates less than 1% of my blog traffic. 

Holiday sale banner

Those who post random, spontaneous content on Instagram must be thinking, “What’s the fuss? It only takes seconds to snap a pic and upload it on Insta.” 

No, it doesn’t. Not for me, at least. Buying merch, setting up, posing, photographing, selecting, editing, watermarking, captioning, tagging, posting, the whole shebang takes chunks of precious time out of an already busy day. 

All that for a few likes? Not worth it. Timing and angling to get likes? Ugh, what could be more pathetic than that? Again, simply not worthwhile. I’m sure any self-respecting Cost-Benefit Analysis will reach the same conclusion.

Banana Fish Eye-Opener

You’re probably wondering what the above has to do with BANANA FISH. I watched the fantastic anime by MAPPA when it came out on Japanese TV in 2018, and was very much surprised to learn it was actually adapted from an old manga serialised in the mid 1980’s that went on for nearly a decade. 

BANANA FISH collab cafe inside Omotesando Hills

Last month a friend and I went to a BANANA FISH event in Omotesando Hills, Tokyo, which we both greatly enjoyed, but I never got around to writing about it because… there were other anime/manga that I deemed more trendy and ‘timely’ – 旬 ‘shun’ (in season) as we say in Japanese – and if I didn’t post about them on Insta at the very moment then I’d have missed my chance for relevance and more likes. So one shun thing came after the other and by the time a reader mentioned BANANA FISH on this blog, I was like, OMFG, I ‘forgot’ to post about that event!

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Collab cafe menu

Unforgettable

Nah, I didn’t really ‘forget.’ Who can forget anything BANANA FISH? The anime was a memorable piece of art in my eyes. Not only did it make me fall deeper in love with the BL genre of fanfiction, it also cemented my fandom of wonderful artists such as the bands Survive Said the Prophet and King Gnu, as well as the voice actor Yuma Uchida. 

Beautiful shop banner

The gripping story was cleverly adapted and perfectly cast, and while I feel it fell short in ‘modernising’ the old manga’s 80’s technological elements, all in all it was a beautifully put together anime. I enjoyed every episode, even the tragic final one which made me bawl my eyes out for weeks.

Inside the cafe. Managed to snap pics before everyone else was ushered in, hehe.

So what I’m getting at is: No blog? No Insta. Blog? Promote on Insta. Nothing more, nothing less. I want to become a better blogger-writer, not a better Zuckstagrammer. Sure, my account’s lack of fun (?) daily content will make me lose even more of my already meagre number of followers. But if that helps me write more consistently on this blog, then it’s a price worth paying.

Pretty wall art

Alright, now on to the event! 

New York Night at Shibuya

It’s called BANANA FISH cafe and bar, with the theme ‘New York Night.’ Located within the fashionable Omotesando Hills shopping complex in Shibuya (along with a twin event in Osaka), it was one of those numerous pop-up anime ‘collab’ cafes selling themed food and exclusive merchandise. 

Ash’s wall collage

Like most collaboration restaurants, the reservation-only event featured long queues, teeny-tiny tables, backless chairs, and to-die for illustrations of our beloved characters. 

Tiny tables and bulky winter coats

I was surprised to discover BANANA FISH’s long-running popularity from the amount of reservations. Running from November 25, 2021 to January 16, 2022, most of the days were full house. It was near impossible to reserve a seat on the weekends, and even during the weekdays only the morning and afternoon slots were available, with the after-work slots filling up almost immediately.

Cool neon sign logos for each major character

We somehow managed to get a weekend reservation, and I must say, despite my lack of fondness for packed collab cafes, I was delighted with this one. It’s been a while since we went to a BANANA FISH event, so my friend and I were ecstatic we could have a place and time to sit and reminisce.

Eiji’s wall collage

As you can see in the pictures, Brooklyn-style bricks, neon lights, and NYC street photography-inspired black and white photos lined the walls, along with illustrations especially made for the event. 

Chalk art-style drawings

My fav detail was the chalk art-style animal illustrations on the tables. How darling is the lynx? Oh, Ash! You’d like this lovely drawing, if only you were here! [insert weeping emoji]

Save Me the Waltz

From the themed menu, I ordered the tofu and salmon salad bowl, while my friend chose the roast beef with mashed potatoes. It’s supposed to be the dish featured in Episode 9 “Save Me the Waltz.”

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Roast beef with mashed potatoes

We tasted each other’s food and agreed they were both fine. I loved the powder sketch of Eiji on the edge of my plate! 

Tofu and salmon salad bowl

I also got Eiji’s drink, Blue Hawaii with yoghurt sauce, which came with his coaster. My friend ordered Ash’s Tea with strawberry sauce. All the drinks on the menu were non-alcoholic, which is mostly the case with collab cafes. I think it’s funny that they add the word ‘bar’ to the event title. 

Drinks with coasters

We didn’t order dessert, a tough decision to make! But it was a no-brainer as it was just after the end-of-year holidays and both of us had put on party fat, not to mention winter fat xD I’d have liked the Yut-Lung chocolate fondue, though 😀

Paper ornaments

Anyone who made a reservation got one random paper ornament. I thought they were too plain and not colourful enough to hang on a Christmas tree. Still, lovely script font!

Event-Exclusive Merch

Due to the pandemic and the cafe being super crowded, we didn’t get to linger as much as we liked at the store area. Instead, each table’s number was called and we were given around 15 minutes to look at the samples, fill our baskets and pay up. 

Merch corner

I chose Ash and Eiji’s acrylic figure stands, along with their branded glasses. If I had the dough I’d have bought Shorter’s stand as well, but then I already spent a relative fortune in a previous Jujutsu Kaisen New Year event and was short of funds. What I’d give to have a substantial trust fund to withdraw from, ahaha!

Couldn’t afford the acrylic board 🙁

Because of the tragic way the story ended, I think I’ll be pouring strong drinks into these tumblers while muttering about the hopelessness and despair of being human in a world where the good die young and unfairness is the only certainty in life.

Merch samples

Happily Ever After

Given how crammed the cafe was and the cacophony of voices in such a narrow space, we didn’t have much time to sit back and relax. We did, however, manage to do the “Do you remember when…?” and “Wasn’t it [insert adjective here] the way Ash/Eiji did such and such…?” By the end of our trip down memory lane, both of us were teary-eyed. 

Merch at home!

“What’s your fanfic version of their ending?” my friend asked as she dabbed the corner of her eye with a tissue. 

“Great question! One I have just the answer for!” was my enthusiastic reply, between sniffles. 

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In my mind, Ash made it out of that stupid library alive: an observant librarian found him and there happened to be an emergency medical doctor nearby who brought her kids in for toddler storytime. 

Unwrapping the beauties

These days, Ash is an ordinary man with white blond hair living a perfectly boring yet peaceful life with the now salt-and-pepper haired Eiji at Setagaya ward in Tokyo (Setagaya being one of only two wards here that recognises same-sex partnership, the other one being Shibuya). 

Oh, and they did have a wedding in NYC, a proper one with tux and champagne and doves and the works. In Tokyo, they run an exporting business together, and have two children, the younger one named Shorter and the older one Griffin. The kids are alright, thinking their parents are a pair of old farts yet loving and respecting them just the same.

Ash & Eiji forever!

Sometimes Ash and Eiji dine at Omotesando Hills, and if you’re lucky, every now and then you can see them strolling along the trendy shopping streets of Shibuya. They’re both safe and happy now, I swear! [insert weeping emoji]


Acknowledgement

Shout-out to Tal for giving me the nudge I needed to write up this review. I really appreciate it, Tal! If it weren’t for you it would have taken me a million years (if at all) to unwrap the merch and go through the event pics. Big thanks! xoxo – hana


Purchasing BANANA FISH cafe and bar Merchandise

Because I’m such a lazy-ass fucktard of a blogger, I missed writing about this event when it was still a ‘happening’. That means the cafe no longer exists and the online store closed for good. If you’re looking for merch, the only options left are the online flea markets:

Search keyphrase

BANANA FISH カフェ

Or

バナナフィッシュ カフェ

If you live overseas, one way to get a hold of these Japanese products is to use a proxy shopper that ships worldwide, such as From Japan. See my Shopper’s Guide for details.

Thank you so much for reading! Please take a moment to share a thought or two in the comment section below. Your comments give me life and are a real source of encouragement. xoxo – hana

Leaving a comment is the best way to help this blog grow. If you’d much rather tip than comment, please use the jar below. Any kind of support is very much appreciated!

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Tal

I have a friend who feels the same way as you when posting a content on instagram or tiktok. She take days thinking of a concept to post on her social medias and she also gets easily affected when her post don’t get much attention because of the time and effort she had put in her post. I also want to tell you this too, 1 like may seem small but it is worth 1 person who genuinely enjoyed your content and I think that’s already worth celebrating for 🙂

The cafe seemed so nice! I remember hearing about this event on twitter and I was sad because I couldn’t go like all the other events I wasn’t able to attend hahah. I love the cafe’s design and theme. I love the neon lights design of Ash and Eiji, I want them decorated on my room’s wall hahah. The food looks so great! I would’ve internally screamed from rush excitement and happiness if my food was served with a powder drawing of Eiji/Ash on the side and would shed a tear from love and adoration hahah.

The merch designs all look so pretty too, Ash’s and Eiji’s specifically 🤧💕 Both of them look so soft and loving and I am just so soft for them honestly 😭

I actually somehow, have no fanfic ending version of Banana Fish. I feel like I have accepted the tragic ending but I still cry over Ash from time to time as if he was a real person that I personally knew :”> His death really took a toll on me 😭 I remember painting Ash and Eiji as my act of moving on from the story after weeks (or was it months?) of being in a Banana Fish depression.

Your acknowledgement makes me so happy! I’m very glad to hear that my brief talk of Banana Fish from your last blog pushed you to write a blog about this event. That made me feel special in some way hahah.

Hope you’ll have a great week ahead! ☺️💕

Tal

My friend still have that sadness but I think she’s coping better now I guess? Because she now shares her posts on twitter because as per her words, “it didn’t get that much love on tiktok”. And we (her friends) give love to her posts on twitter hahah.

That’s great to hear that you have come upon a conclusion with great resolve in doing what makes you truly happy and enjoy 😊 I hope you’d spend more time with your friends and family without having to think about instagram and whatnot and just plainly enjoying the time with them 💕 After all, sharing a laugh or a smile with the people you love feels far more rewarding than gaining digital likes on the internet (well at least for me hahah).

Aaaa thank you also for your blogs. You have actually inspired me also because I was actually into writing when I was in highschool and was planning to take Journalism in college (I’m now taking IT course), but I got too insecure with my writing and english skills (my first language is Cebuano) that it held me back from pursuing Journalism. You inspire me to pick up my pen and write again. I really enjoy interacting with you 🥰

Tal

Oh myy that’s so scary. I would be scared too if I had the same case as yours. There are so many memories I definitely don’t want to forget and would love to reminisce once I get old and people that are close to me too. Hope it won’t reach you when you get old 🙏🏼

This is the same for me also at my University since I have to think logically most of the time in my course subjects. Every year I keep on telling myself that I want to write a story and actually finish it, but I always fail every year xD This has been going on for 4 years now and I kept failing in the past 4 years hahah. I probably should try to actually finish one this year but I lose motivation so easily TT. Hopefully some time this year I’d have the motivation that’ll last me long so I could write a complete story and finally check the goal that has never been checked since 4 years ago xD

Tal

My progress is very inconsistent hahah because I keep on writing new stories because I’d have a new story idea every year but none of those stories were ever finished xD The furthest I’ve gone with a story was 5 chapters which was the story I’ve worked on in 2017 and it is still far from being finished hahah. Whereas my other stories, I already have an outline on how the story would start and end, and have already listed down my characters’ personality but as for the story-telling part, I only have a paragraph for them xD

Hopefully both of us would show some progress soon with our stories hahqh.

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