Eiji Okumura is the deuteragonist of the Banana Fish series. Arriving in New York, he gets caught up in ongoing events and helps Ash Lynx as he uncovers the mystery surrounding banana fish, refusing to head back to the safety of his home country of Japan.
Eiji is a slim Japanese youth with black hair and large dark brown eyes. Despite being an adult at the age of 19, he is often mistaken for a child, even in Japan. He is seen in a variety of clothing choices throughout the series, often with Ash's clothing.
His personal style seems to consist of neat clothing such as collared shirts and sweaters, a pink unbuttoned shirt over his shoulders, sweater vests and such. This proves to be a contrast against the denim jackets, varsity jackets, hoodies and other items of clothing belonging to Ash that he wears later on in the series.
In Garden of Light, Eiji's hair has grown longer and we see it sported in a ponytail; he has also adopted the use of glasses.
Akimi Yoshida, the mangaka, based Eiji's likeness off of Hironobu Nomura.
Eiji has a very kind, selfless personality. He is also inquisitive about things unfamiliar to him such as Ash's gun. As the series progresses, he starts depending on Ash. Eiji has, on more than one occasion, been described as innocent, but brave. He can be quite naive about the world of gangs, and even American customs at times. He is quite perceptive and very aware of his surroundings one situation being when Eiji knew instantly when Ash was lying to him, because of his terrifying calmness. Usually, he is an understanding, reasonable person, but can have unwavering stubbornness and can even be moderately rude when prompted.
Eiji was an accomplished pole vaulter before an injury interfered with that. It was part of the reason Ibe decided to bring him to New York with him. Not much is known about his personal life, or other personal interests besides pole-vaulting, and that he was offered multiple scholarships for it, and later on, photography which he continued to pursue. However, it is assumed he has led a normal life until the events of Banana Fish.
Main Article: Eiji Okumura/Synopsis
Arriving in New York, Eiji along with Ibe meets Skip who introduces them to Ash for their report on street gangs. A rival gang kidnaps Eiji and tracking them Ash surrenders his gun to guarantee his safety. Escaping their warehouse confinement, Eiji uses a rusty pole to vault over a wall (in the process cutting his arm) and alerts the police.
He goes to Ash in the hospital with police such as Charlie thinking correctly that Ash has something on Golzine and so his life is at risk. Eiji cannot talk Ash out of it, empathizing with him. He visits Ash in prison when he was framed for Marvin's murder where Ash shares a message in a capsule delivered by a kiss to Eiji.
As he delivers the message to Shorter Wong he is followed and captured by Arthur who set a trap for him.
He was adept enough to take part in pole vaulting, he used this to clear a wall and alert law enforcement to the location where he alongside Ash and Skip were captured. At first, although Eiji cannot shoot and fight using any weapon, he practices and comes to be able to fire a gun.
Eiji can calm some dangerous people with his kindness and innocence, such as Ash to other gang members he is not as close to such as befriending Shorter, Sing, and Cain.
After getting into a slump because of an injury which halted his competitive pole-vaulting efforts, Ibe takes notice and takes Eiji along with him to America as his assistant. He affectionately refers to him as "Ei-Chan." Ibe acts as Eiji's guardian while in America.
Along with Shunichi Ibe, Eiji first meets Ash Lynx when interviewing him at a bar about gang life. During their first encounter, Eiji asks to touch Ash's gun. Ash, although known to be distrustful to people and had never let anyone touch his gun prior to that moment, allows Eiji to hold his gun. This initial meeting already lays the foundation for the amount of trust they put in each other later on in the story and sets apart how Ash treats Eiji in contrast to other people. Despite having known each other for a considerably short time, Eiji forms a close bond with Ash throughout the perilous situations both of them become involved in. Ash protects Eiji as much as possible and even teaches him how to use a gun. Eiji becomes very dependent on Ash due to this. Later, they have been shown to have romantic feelings for each other, although they never truly act on them. In the manga, Sing claims that they are bonded by soul thus meaning they are soulmates (in account).
Eiji met Skip at a bar where Ash would hang out. Eiji and Skip both got kidnapped along with Ash trying to rescue them. Sadly while Eiji was out to get help from the police, Skip was shot in the chest by Marvin in order to protect Ash from being shot. After Eiji heard the news he started to blame himself for Skip's death but was reassured by Ash that it wasn't his fault.
Eiji became very close friends with Shorter in the anime, and even began shedding tears because of the Banana Fish's effect on his brain that makes him afraid of Eiji. Shorter is also seen to be very protective of Eiji after being forced to hand Eiji over to Golzine. He threatens that if anyone tries to touch Eiji or bring harm to him then he would personally kill Eiji himself to save him from the torture before they can get to him and even promises Eiji that he will follow right behind him by ending his life straight after killing him.
Being the rival of Ash Lynx, and from the way, Arthur treats them both he is against Arthur. Eiji is first seen by Arthur when he is kidnapped alongside Skip. Arthur asks who he is before ordering Eiji to be shot before Ash surrenders his gun to save him. Arthur identifies Eiji as a weak point of Ash's after he witnesses his behaviour around him. Eiji is addressed as "a samurai boy" and referred to as a kitten to Ash's Lynx.
Yut-Lung, both in the manga and the anime, despises Eiji. This is because of his effortless penchant for comforting people despite his naivety and his plain personality. It is implied that this is also because Yut-Lung is jealous and resentful of Eiji's strong bond with Ash. Yut-Lung paralyzes Eiji while Shorter Wong helps for his friends to be safe. But as time goes on, he in secret helps Eiji and explaining certain things he may not understand. Eiji stages an escape and holds him hostage in order to do so.
After being saved by thugs, Eiji explained what happened to Shorter's death and why Ash had to kill him, Sing and Eiji become very close friends throughout the manga and anime.
He is unknowingly targeted by Blanca, and shot across the right arm from sniper fire from him as a warning to Ash. But in the end, Blanca feels sympathy for both Eiji and Ash, reminding him of how he felt after he lost his wife.
Dino captures him to make Ash come to New York and captures him too.
His given name (英二, Eiji) in Japanese means "great, second".
Episode Appearances Edit
- 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 Episode 10 Babylon Revisited
- Episode 11 The Beautiful and Damned
- Episode 12 To Have and Have Not
- Episode 13 The Snows of Kilimanjaro
- Episode 14 Tender is the Night
- Episode 15 The Garden of Eden
- Episode 16 Lo, the Poor Peacock (Not seen but shown and mentioned)
- 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 Ash) "Forever."
- (To Ash) "If I ever lose you too... I'll go crazy."
- Ash: "Do I scare you?" Eiji: "Never."
- (To Ash) "Come back safely. I'll be waiting for you, forever."
- (To Ash) "If you feel responsible, the same goes for me."
- (To Ash) "My words might not mean anything now, but just remember one thing. Even if the world turns on you, I'll always be on your side."
- (To Ash) "Humans can change their destiny. They have wisdom leopards don't. Besides, you're not a leopard."
- (To Skipper & Ash) "If I'm going to die anyways, at least I'll die trying!"
- (To Ibe) "Ash is strong."
- (To Ash) Don't apologize. That's something for us Japanese to do."
- (To Ash) "Listen to your big bro for once, okay?"
- (To Ash) I'd do anything for you.
- (To Ash) "Go!"
- (To Charlie) "Let him go!"
- (Letter to Ash) "I know we'll meet again, no matter how far apart we are. You're the greatest friend I'll ever have."
- (Letter to Ash) "You're not alone. I'm by your side. My soul is always with you."
- (Letter to Ash) "You asked me over and over if you scared me. But I never feared you. Not once."
- (Letter to Ash) "I'm really glad I came to America. I met lots of people. And more than anything, I met you."
- One of Eiji's favorite foods is natto, a fermented bean dish usually eaten during breakfast, which he has made Ash begrudgingly taste.
- In the epilogue, Eiji is revealed to have a dog named Buddy, whom he rescued from a trash dumpster.
- Eiji is afraid of mice.
- Eiji has been compared to multiple animals. Frederick Arthur refers to him as a Japanese bobtail and Blanca compares him to a rabbit. He also has some bird motifs due to Ash Lynx constantly mentioning him being able to fly. His sweater from the first episode and his phone case also have birds on them.
- Eiji grew up in Izumo, a small town in Japan.
- Eiji's father is revealed to be in the hospital due to liver problems in Fly Boy in the Sky. It is also implied that his mother is unfaithful.
- Eiji also is a pure character that will keep Ash safe from harm.
- Eiji is to Ash the only human worth protecting and is canonically confirmed to be his beloved.
- Eiji's correlation chart with Ash 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.
- Eiji is friends with the housewives in the apartment he lives in — Mrs. Owen and Mrs. Coleman
- Eiji’s first kiss might have been Ash according to Shunichi.
- According to an interview with the author, Yoshida Akimi, and Fujimoto, Eiji Okumura was originally intended to be made a female, but she says the plot would have been too predictable as it would just have ended in a normal romance, stating that "when you write about two girls or two boys, there is a bigger range of emotions to explore."
- His birth year in the manga, 1966, is listed in New York Sense.
- Eiji, alongside Ash, appears in Akimi Yoshida's other manga, Lovers' Kiss.