Binge or Purge?: Bananya
We take a look at another saccharin sweet, slightly silly show out of Japan. Bananya is less fun than I would have wanted, but I feel that I’m not the target audience… by about 37 years.
When Japanese anime isn’t shocking you with ultraviolence or titillating with tit..illations, it’s usually trying to put you into a diabetic coma with adorable creations. We’ve covered historical lessons presented by cats, hard rocking office-pandas, and delinquent hamsters. Following this pedigree is Bananya, a half banana, half cat creation that lives with its friends in a random Japanese kitchen.
Bananya is indeed adorable, but it doesn’t quite satisfy. It’s very short, but it doesn’t pack quite enough funny into that amount of time (like Delinquent Hamsters did). The plots are very simple, and generally follow the same schtick: Bananya has an interaction with something in the kitchen, and one of his friends shows up to provide the punchline. It’s not all that deep.
But then again, I don’t think it wants to be. After watching 5 episodes I’m fairly certain that this show is for very young Japanese children. It’s cute, colorful and safe. The narrator speaks slowly, often repeating certain phrases during an episode. This show is probably introductory Japanese for children just beginning to babble, disguised as eye candy. If you have a tike that you want to make multilingual, Bananya might be a nice tool in your kit. Everyone else might want to check out a different kitchen.
Bananya is a half banana, half cat living with his friends. A narrator follows the adventures of these strange creatures as they live, love, and play around in their kitchen home.
Episode 1: The Kitty Who Lives in a Banana
Our narrator, after years of searching, has found his illusive quarry: the Bananya. This cat living in a banana peel only comes out to play when the residents of a house are asleep. From here on out, it will be his job to document the day to day life of this crazy cat.
The first episode is a simple introduction. It’s quick and not all that funny. The only recurring jokes is that Bananya dreams of becoming a chocolate dipped banana and every time the narrator tries to give Bananya his name the cat interrupts him with a “nya” (what the Japanese think a cat’s mew sounds like). You could skip this episode and pretty much lose nothing.
Episode 3: Bananya Watches TV, Nya
Our part-fruit pussycat is fascinated by the kitchen TV, but Baby Bananya’s fascination with the TV remote derails his viewing.
This is the first episode that begins the standard format of the series: Bananya interacts with something while one of the other cats messes with him. This one is cute, as we see him try and chase birds in a documentary, get rattled by Godzilla, and try to comfort an infomercial woman with a toothache. Still not all that funny, but this episode is super sweet.
Episode 4: Bananya and the Mouse, Nya
Our aspiring chocolate dipped feline happens upon a mouse. The mouse finds the fastest way to a cat’s heart is… cookies.
This episode is the closest to genuinely being funny so far. Seeing the mouse bribe Bananya into being best friends is cute… and the punchline of Tora Bananya reminding Bananya of his catly duties was nice. It’s still not Delinquent Hamsters, but it’s finding it’s footing.
Binge or Purge?
This one is a half-hearted purge. It’s so short that if you find the premise cute, you could watch the entire season in half an hour. It seems to find its footing towards the middle of the season, but it’s just too sweet to commit to anything more than “cats behaving like cats are inherently funny”. If each banana-cat had more personality, they could skewer Anime archetypes as well as cat behavior, and that might elevate the series, but from my viewing Bananya is too one-note.
If you have a young kid that you’d like to introduce to basic Japanese, this series might be a nice thing to plug between episodes of longer, more scholarly shows. As far as personal viewing goes, however, this show isn’t quite catnip.