Aslan Jade Callenreese, better known as "Ash Lynx", is the protagonist of Banana Fish. Ash is given a sample of an unknown drug by a dying man and is targeted by Dino Golzine for what he is suspected to have. He is aided by Japanese journalist Eiji Okumura and his friend Shorter Wong in discovering the true nature of the mysterious substance.
Ash is a tall and slender young man standing at 5’11. He has blonde hair, green eyes, pale skin and is extremely beautiful in appearance, as remarked on by numerous characters in the series. His normal attire consists of a white, loose T-shirt, blue jeans, brown belt, and red sneakers. He is shown wearing glasses when reading, suggesting that he's far-sighted. He is sometimes associated with a green earring that was given to him by Dino Golzine to match the color of his eyes and serve as a reminder of his ownership over Ash. Later, Ash dismisses the earring as an unimportant "gift" when Eiji Okumura asks about it and then trades it for guns and ammo.
Although Ash is highly aware of his attractiveness and has learned to weaponize it, his beauty often works against him, making him a target of unwanted sexual advances and harassment from older men and women alike. He is also a target of mockery in regards to his appearance and is often underestimated because of his beauty, which he uses to his advantage.
Ash has the personality, charisma, and skill to gather large groups of individuals together under his influence. Not only is he excellent in combat and an incredible marksman, but he is also highly intelligent, with an IQ of 200. His intelligence lends itself well to solving the mystery of 'Banana Fish' and he has also been stated to be quite well-read, knowing his way around the newspaper's daily columns and political novels- unusual for someone who did not finish middle school.
Along with his remarkable intelligence, Ash's good looks and charisma allow him to sway the will of people to his benefit in dire situations, and he's well aware of it. Despite the influence he holds over others, however, Ash is mistrustful and holds most people at arms-length except for a few select friends in his inner circle, including his long-time best friend Shorter, and later Eiji Okumura. He is not afraid of death not because of courage, as he calls himself a coward, but because of his disillusionment with his own life.
Ash's character is mostly defined by his constant struggle for freedom against his oppressors, his fight to overcome his trauma over sexual abuse, and most importantly, to find his real place in the world.
Ash grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. His mother left him as a young baby at the care of his father. His father relinquishes Ash's care to Griffin, his older brother, who raises him. When Ash is six years old, Griffin is called to serve in the army and is sent to Iraq (Vietnam in the manga). When Ash is seven years old he is raped by his Little League coach. When his father went to report the sexual assault, the police believed his rapist to be not guilty, as he was a 'big shot'. His father told Ash that next time he should let the assault happen but then ask to be paid. After Ash is abused several more times by the same man, he grabs his father's gun without his knowledge and kills his rapist, at the age of 8. The police found bones of children in his basement, and the case causes notoriety. Ash's aggressor becomes known as the Blue Beard of Cape Cod. Ash was found not guilty in the eyes of the law but becomes the talk of the small town. Ash's father decides to send him away to his aunt, but before he is able, Ash runs away from home.
As a destitute child, he is captured by men who traffic with children for prostitution. Ash is sent to work at Club Cod, a child sex trafficking establishment operating under the guise of a restaurant owned by Mafia Don Dino Golzine. At Club Cod, he learned how to entice customers using his charisma, and he would in due time catch the personal eye of Golzine himself, who opted to keep Ash as a personal "pet" or sex slave. Under Golzine he is "cultured" and trained as a member of the upper class: made to taste various kinds of wine, learn proper table manners, and receive an outstanding education. This education includes instruction in hand and fire combat from the world's most recognized teachers, one of which was Blanca.
At fourteen Ash falls in love with a girl, but she is killed before anything develops when she is thought to be his girlfriend. At age fifteen Ash is sent to juvenile detention for killing three people. This is where he meets Shorter Wong, who would become his close friend and help him unify the gang territories of lower Manhattan.
Around the age of fifteen or sixteen, Ash finds his brother, Griffin Callenreese, in a run-down hospital for veterans from Iraq, and decides to take care of him. At age seventeen, Ash has grown to unite a great number of gangs under his command and becomes both a feared and admired leader in Manhattan, compelling fierce loyalty.
Main Article: Ash Lynx/Synopsis
Ash Lynx is walking through an alley of New York where he comes across a dying man. He is given a vial of an unknown substance and to his shock, he hears the stranger utter a familiar term: "Banana Fish." Crossing paths with Marvin before confronting Golzine over the incident Ash keeps what he was given to himself.
For a teenager of his age, Ash is a true force to be reckoned with. Not only is he a capable brawler who can fend off multiple assailants at once with little effort even when unarmed, but he is also an expert in close-quarter combat and an even more deadly marksman. His shooting ability is so precise that he can perfectly shoot nearly any target he wishes, even when visually impaired, and can do so with frightening speed that can result in the death of multiple hostiles before they can even react or realize what is happening, or even take the adequate defensive measures.
Being taught personally by Blanca, he is an expert in the art of assassination and claims to know multiple forms of torture that will not kill its victim. His skill is more than demonstrated during the museum battle where he displayed a great ability in moving in the dark, swiftly killing several assassins, all of them equipped with firearms and doing so while only carrying a knife in his mouth despite not being at the peak of his physical condition. Ash's battle experience and knowledge gives him great situation assessment abilities, allowing him to react quickly and effectively to events that may prove heavily disadvantageous.
Ash's abilities along with his personality, have put him in a constant state of alert, making ambushes on him nigh impossible to succeed, and has in fact prevented many attempts on his life because of this. His awareness of surroundings along with his incredible sense of direction and memory, allow him to easily discern where he is geographically positioned, despite being kidnapped while blindfolded.
He is also an experienced and hardened gang leader who can guide and order his men with great effectiveness with none of them ever questioning him for his orders are precise, his plans thoroughly thought and his determination strong. His education in several fields including biochemistry, politics, literature, amongst other areas has proven useful when having to put a plan in action or otherwise determine key elements like Banana Fish's purpose, or Golzine's main plot.
Having repeatedly experienced sexual abuse during his life, Ash is well aware of his attractive looks and has weaponized them several times to gain an advantage, and knows exactly the buttons to press to make his victims fall, making him a skilled manipulator and a devious tactician.
Because of these traits, Ash is often likened with a wild beast, who grows all the more vicious when angered or when cornered. When Ash is under a severe rage fit, his deadliness skyrockets.
A nineteen-year-old Japanese college student. He comes to New York as Ibe's assistant to finish a report on street gangs. From their first encounter at the bar where Ash's gang usually hangs out, Ash was unusually lenient with Eiji, going as far as letting Eiji hold his gun when Eiji asked mannerly for Ash's permission to do so. As Skip explained to Eiji later on, Ash has never let anybody touch his gun before, one man had attempted to do so without Ash's permission and got his fingers blown off.
When Ash, Eiji, and Skip were captured by Arthur's gang and Dino's man, Eiji earned Ash's respect when he attempted to rescue Ash and Skipper by selflessly putting himself in danger. As Ash mentioned later on in episode 7 while encouraging Eiji to return to Japan, that usually people do not help Ash without asking for anything in return.
As Eiji insists on aiding Ash in the case of Banana Fish, they grow close as they travel the country together and Ash saves Eiji's life countless times. Their friendship deepens so much that either would be willing to die without hesitation instead of letting the other get hurt. After the deaths of multiple loved ones and his best friend, Ash gives up on attempting to force Eiji to return to Japan where he is safe, admitting to his need of Eiji by his side. As several people point out, Eiji's refreshing innocence and honesty has a calming effect on those around him, especially to Ash who was able to find joy in his grief as Eiji loved him unconditionally. They have several intimate moments and share a deep and unique connection, which is often interpreted as romantic.
In Volume 8, Ash confesses to Eiji Okumura that when he was fourteen, he thought he was in love with a girl before she was murdered by Glozine's men who assumed they were together, explaining his caution with Eiji as well as previous romantic interests. In the short story of Garden of Light in Vol. 19, Sing Soo-Ling stated that their relationship may not have been sexual but that they truly loved each other and were soul mates.
Ash's best friend and partner. Shorter and Ash met each other when they were in juvenile prison, explained in the side story, "Angel Eyes", where it is shown that he found Ash beautiful, describing his face as "so beautiful it was scary." He later revealed to Ash that he reminded him of an angel on a Christmas card Nadia had sent him, and described Ash's laugh as "child like and totally angelic". Ash describes Shorter as having "always regarded me as a human being with a real heart, not some sort of tool."
In the main story, though associated with the Chinese mafia, Shorter and Ash have unified territories in Volume 1 and often operate as a team, with both gangs sharing a single bar. Shorter is shown to be very protective and concerned about Ash's relationship with Marvin Crosby. In Volumes 1 and 2, he is the first to know of and warn Ash of Arthur's attack, and leads Ash's gang in the rescue operation to recover Ash. When Ash discovers the drug later known as Banana Fish, Ash requests through Eiji that Shorter move "the thing I gave to Dr. Meredith," which Shorter is shown to have prior knowledge of throughout Volume 2.
Despite Ash's wish that Shorter stay behind upon learning the Corsicans vested interest in the drug, Shorter demanded to help Ash in his attempt to kill Dino and find out what Banana Fish was. He traveled with Ash to Cape Cod and LA. When Shorter was injected with Banana Fish by Abraham Dawson at the request of Dino Golzine, he became deeply fearful of Eiji and attempted to kill him at the urging of his captors. Upon hearing Ash's voice and seeing an angel statue in the execution room, Shorter was able to temporarily break free of the Banana Fish hallucinations. Shorter begged Ash to free him from the pain he was feeling because of Banana Fish. Ash did so, with great pain in his heart, begging to be killed along with Shorter moments later. Upon escaping the execution room, Ash discovered Shorter's body and took revenge on Dawson for his part in the death. Ash burned Shorter's body down with Golzine's mansion to prevent further experimentation. After this tragic event, we can see that Ash is wearing Shorter's sunglasses, which were now the only remaining material memory of his best friend.
Ash's older half- brother. He served in the military alongside Max Lobo, until he went insane due to the effects of the Banana Fish drug and massacred his fellow teammates. It lead to the decision of Max Lobo to shoot Griffin in the legs and make him drop his weapon. Griffin was sent home after the incident. Seeing his brother lying lifelessly on the hospital bed, Ash decided to bring Griffin home and took care of him in the following years. As the only word that Griffin keeps mumbling is "Banana Fish", Ash decides to investigate about Banana Fish and find out who is responsible for putting his brother in this situation.
Young informant (thought to be about 12) and member of Ash's gang. As in episode 1, it showed that Skip also takes care of Griffin, Ash's half brother, while Ash is away from home. Skip protected Eiji during a bar fight between Arthur's gang and Ash's gang. Skip was shot and killed by Marvin Crosby in his attempt to stop him from shooting Ash.
After agreeing to let Ibe interview and photograph him, Ash later gets the initial impression that Ibe would not approve of him teaching Eiji how to use guns, one time stating rather sadly that they would just be two boys playing if it wan't for the guns. Ash appears to view Ibe as an overprotective parent of sorts.
Ash and Max Lobo first meet in jail, where Ash discovers that Max is Griffin's friend. After finding out that he was responsible for shooting Griffin in the leg and paralyzing him for life, Ash vows to kill Max. But as the series progresses, the two develop a deep respect for each other. Max even admits that Ash is like a son to him.
Ash initially seems unsure whether Yut is a friend or foe, but after Eiji tells Ash of his intentions to be his formal enemy, he distrusts and strongly dislikes Yut-Lung for all of his actions, especially for putting Eiji in danger.
Ash, at first, seemed to see Sing as a nuisance more than anything else, but eventually regards him as a trustworthy ally. He asks him to protect his friends on numerous occasions and believes in him to follow through.
Ash's enemy. Previously Downtown's gang leader at Manhattan. A cruel ex-member of Ash's gang.
After Ash won a knife fight against Arthur in the agreement that Arthur would either submit his territory or leave, Arthur drew a gun from his lieutenant and attempted to kill Ash. He failed, however, and Ash punished Arthur by ruining his fingers, rendering him unable to pull a gun's trigger. The constant hatred Arthur felt towards Ash strengthened his need to get revenge. Arthur later allies himself with Golzine in order to do so.
Dino is the man who made Ash to be a cold-blooded killer, sexually abused Ash as a child, and kept him as his own personal "pet". He is obsessed with hunting Ash down and killing him and is the ultimate threat in the series.
While Ash respects and cares for him, he's absolutely terrified when finding out that Blanca is in the picture as he is the one who trained him. He is one of the few people of whom Ash doubts his own abilities to fight.
Ash’s second in command who is tasked with defending Eiji. When leaving to finalize the deal with Yut and Golzine, he leaves everything in Alex's hands.
Cain Blood cooperates with Ash against Golzine and Foxx.
One of the most difficult enemies Ash is confronted with. Foxx also rapes him after capturing him.
Ash's real name, Aslan, means "day-break" in Hebrew, as he was born at dawn; it also translates to "lion" in Turkish. His middle name is "Jade" named after the gemstone.
- Episode 01 A Perfect Day for Bananafish
- Episode 02 In Another Country
- Episode 03 Across the River and into the Trees
- Episode 04 This Side of Paradise
- Episode 05 From Death to Morning
- Episode 06 My Lost City
- Episode 07 The Rich Boy
- Episode 08 Banal Story
- Episode 09 Save Me The Waltz
- Episode 10 Babylon Revisited
- Episode 11 The Beautiful and Damned
- Episode 12 To Have and Have Not
- Episode 13 The Snows of Kilamanjaro
- Episode 14 Tender is the Night
- Episode 15 The Garden of Eden
- Episode 16 Lo, The Poor Peacock
- Episode 17 The Killers
- Episode 18 Islands in the Stream
- Episode 19 Ice Palace
- Episode 20 The Unvanquished
- Episode 21 The Undefeated
- Episode 22 As I Lay Dying
- Episode 23 For Whom the Bell Tolls
- Episode 24 The Catcher in the Rye
- (To Charlie) "How are you going to indict Dino? Even if I did know something, what good would it do? he’s got a team of bigshot lawyers on his side. that’s his "right" according to you guys. Even If you bust him, he’ll bail himself out in half an hour. Even a stupid street punk like me knows that!"
- (To Eiji) "I envy you... being able to jump like that..."
- (About solitary) "What could be more relaxing than three days away from these guys?"
- (To Max) "I wish I could hate you. I need someone to hate. My brother raised me. If it wasn’t for him I would’ve starved to death. But when I found him in that filthy loony bin... he couldn’t even go to the bathroom by himself..."
- (To Jim) "Griffin is dead. Not that you’d give a damn one way or the other."
- (To Ibe, about Eiji) "You pamper him too much. I don’t know what the problem is... but treating him like you’re giving the pope a bath isn’t going to help. That’s why he can’t even look after himself at his age."
- (To Max) "Aren’t there any decent parents in this world? It’s not like kids get to choose them at birth, you know. And they can’t exchange them if they turn out to be losers."
- (About Shorter) "That guy always regarded me as a human being with a real heart, not some sort of tool."
- (To Yut Lung) "This little act of charity, you’re going to regret this, man... because I will kill you."
- "I tried to forget. Tough guy, boy prostitute, stone killer look at what I’ve done..."
- (To Eiji) "Stay with me... I won’t ask "forever." Just for now, Eiji."
- (To Dino) "Well, I already know you’re a sick man. Hope the plane doesn’t crash... with you on board, it’ll go straight to hell. Not fair to the other passengers."
- "Ready to lose your life over a pizza? Don’t be such a greedy bastard Max, how about exercising a little caution?"
- (To Ibe) "Those pictures you said you took of Eiji— wish I could’ve seen them."
- "My name... has become the signal for a massacre. What on earth... Have I become?"
- "What do you think I am...? I’m a murderer... okay? I’m not the student body president or a summer camp counselor. I told you before. I kill people. This... is my life! Those guys sold out their friends to save themselves. Anyone who does that once will do it again, and again, and again— they paid the price for their decisions— that’s all."
- (To Eiji) "Give me a goddamned break! What the hell are you anyway?! My goddamn mother?! You can cram that lecture, okay?! What do you want me to do— let those double-crossers go, and get myself killed?! No way! Logic’s got nothing to do with it! Strength is all that counts!! That’s how it works on the street! What the hell do you know?!"
- "Let‘s say I am...‘exceptional,’ right... the problem is, I never, ever, my whole life wanted to be!"
- "That’s right, death. You said I am not like ordinary people. If there was just one thing I’d say that was true about. It is—I’m not afraid of death. People are funny because of course, they don’t know anything about death.They never experienced it and knew it was something to fear, but they fear it instinctively. There’ve been countless times in my life when I thought I’d be better off dead. That nothing could be worse than what was happening to me right then. At times like that...death looks sweet and peaceful, and unbearably enticing."
- "‘Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. I’s western summit is called by the Masai ‘Ngaje Ngai’, the ‘House of God’. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.’ That is from Hemingway’s The snows of Kilimanjaro. When I think of my own death—I try to picture that leopard’s carcass. Why did he come to those heights—for what? Did he lose his way chasing some prey, and wander into some spot he couldn’t escape from? Or was he looking for something else, climbing higher and higher until he used up all his strength and collapsed? I think about which way the carcass was facing... was he trying to get back down—or trying to climb higher? Either way, that leopard knew... that he would never be going back."
- (To Cain) "Stick around for another drink, Cain. It’s almost curtain call. And I dropped that heap of crap excuse for a rolls dino tried to pawn off on me. Want a ride in my new Phantom V?”
- “War is always good business for those in power."
- (To Max) "Sorry to destroy your youthful innocence but I have intimate knowledge of what kind of sick perverts are running this country. Those senators and congressmen you see kissing babies at election time... some of them are regulars at Golzine’s fleshpot restaurant— like that Kippard, for instance. You have any idea what those guys made us do? we were young enough to be their sons and grandsons. If I went into detail, you’d get it into your head what kind of "fathers" they are. Not the founding kind, that’s for sure.”
- "If you ask me, the white house can go screw itself."
- (To Max) "Water-gate is history, Max. Don’t tell me you still believe the pen is mightier than the sword."
- "I wonder if I’m dying somewhere. I remember everything, but it’s peaceful. I see it again, but there isn’t any pain... Leave the weight of joy and sorrow alike down in that bed. That’s how death lifts away, doesn’t it?"
- "I wasn’t expecting the law to protect me. I’ve ignored it all my life... I sure as hell don’t plan on hiding behind it now."
- "What is this place— a massage parlor?! I’m tellin’ you, these nurses are all over me! I’m sick and tired of being fondled, okay? just keep them away from me— please!"
- “This town’s my backyard, remember?"
- "Look, sun’s setting. Sunrise and sunset are about the only times this junkyard of a city looks good."
- (To Eiji) "Even if I said no, you wouldn’t go back anyway. Plus I guess it’s better for me that way too. If you went home I’d probably worry if something happened to you. So it’s better you’re right here, where I can keep an eye on you."
- (To Kippard) "Some people never change. Still getting champagne and caviar delivered to your door. In the same apartment you rent as "James Abbot." Still getting your kicks every wednesday night... what was it you always said? "no such thing as a smart blond, they’re all dumb"? and then your wife and son turned out to be blonds, that was pretty funny. what’s the hurry? The dom perignon‘s nicely chilled. I think I’ll have a glass. You always got started right away, never let me have so much as a sip of this stuff. And the moment you were done you’d pack me off without even letting me take a shower. Well, I sure would’ve liked to have been offered some of this bubbly. I’d always think, man, not only is this guy a fat bastard, he’s a cheap bastard."
- (To Yut Lung) "Vulture got together with the viper. You make a great pair...!"
- (About Blanca) "Why now after all this time— does it have to be you, of all people...? goddammit... I don’t stand a chance. I’m dust against him."
- (To Eiji) "Modeling isn’t as easy at it looks. It’s not like posing for kiddie porn mags."
- (To Eiji) "Over my dead body. If anybody hurts you... It’ll be over my dead body— I don’t care who it is. I am not letting anybody hurt you, Eiji."
- (To Blanca) "Dont give me your stupid advice...! Just leave me alone... I’m happy, goddammit! I know there’s at least one person in this world who cares about me. Who doesn’t want anything from me. Do you have any idea what that’s like? I never did... not once in my entire life—until now. And that’s worth more to me than anything else."
- Ash is afraid of pumpkins.
- It takes Ash 0.03 seconds to pull the trigger of a gun after he has the target spotted.
- According to Eiji, his favorite food is shrimp and avocado salad.
- It is also mentioned by Eiji that he dislikes hamburgers.
- He is long-sighted.
- The NY public library is his favorite place.
- According to Eiji, when he’s lying he becomes quiet and stops joking around.
- Ash shares his birthday with the author of Banana Fish, Akimi Yoshida.
- He identifies as bisexual. In fact, Yoshida stated in an interview that Ash had sex with both men and women.
- In another interview, she referred to Ash as "onee", implying he prefers to be on the receiving end of sex.
- He appears in the Angel Eyes illustration book in sexually suggestive poses alongside Eiji and less frequently, Blanca.
- He wakes up cranky due to his low blood pressure.
- He has an IQ superior to 200.
- Despite never making it through elementary school due to his circumstances, his intelligence allowed him to pick up higher mathematics through books.
- In Private Opinion, Blanca points out that he has a faint Irish accent due to being third generation Irish.
- Ash appears in the audio drama of Angel Eyes, alongside Shorter.
- Ash, alongside Eiji, appears in one of Akimi Yoshida's other works, Lovers' Kiss.
- Ash was referenced in episode 10 of Gaikoysu Shotenin Honda-san.
- Ash's correlation chart with Eiji after episode 24 on the official site changed from 親友 (Shin'yū) meaning "best friend" to being no correlation status with a black thick line, implying that their relationship is so close that it can't be described only with words.
- In the manga, Ash was confirmed to be deceased (through the Garden of Light side story) but in the anime Ash's status still being unknown whereas he is still alive or dead, makes it as open ending.
- Ash's chart has been changed step by step from deceased (greyscale) to be colorful again although his name tag still grey, then changed again to be white, even finally Lao's arrow line toward Ash being disappeared, means they decided to make episode 24 to be open ending, whereas Ash is still alive or not left to the audience to decide.