The Banana Sprout (芭蕉的芽)

Zuo Hsuan
Gaea Books
“Let's create our own magazine!” Experience the splendors of high school life in 1930s Taipei–freedom, independence, and unruly creativity!


In the 1930s, a new student enters the Shichisei Dorm at Taiwan's most prestigious high school which flies the banner of freedom and independence. Yeh Hsing-Chiao successfully passes through the "narrowest of narrow gates" to get admitted into Taihoku High School. He muddles his way through life and moves to Taipei to fulfill his family's expectations of him to become a doctor.

His roommate Nanjō Yuntarō is widely known at the school to be a problem figure for his unruliness and love of reading, but he is in danger of being kicked out of school because he has skipped too many classes. These two young men with completely different personalities become good friends. In this cradle of freedom and intellectualism, they share the same feeling of youthful confusion and longing. One day, Nanjō Yuntarō suddenly says to Yeh Hsing-Chiao with great excitement, "The style of the Syohfu Magazine is so rigid, let's create our magazine!"

Comic artist Zuo Hsuan did a lot of research to vividly depict student life inside and outside the gates of Taiwan's most prestigious high school during the Japanese colonial period. This comic not only presents the unrestrained spirit of high school students, but also provides a detailed illustration of the history, architecture, and clothing of Taihoku High School. Through the adventure of these two young students, this work also reconstructs a charming and beautiful story about high school in the 1930s.

Role profile

  • Yeh Hsing-Chiao

    Yeh Hsing-Chiao

    A hard-working student who got admitted to Taihoku High School. He is practical and diligent, but he also loves writing. In high school, he finds life confusing and struggles to adapt. His family hopes he will become a medical student at one of the Imperial Universities, but he has other ideas.

  • Untaro Nanjyo

    Untaro Nanjyo

    Yeh Hsing-Chiao's roommate, with his scruffy uniform and free, unconventional language, symbolizes the unruly students at Taihoku High School. Even within the school, he is seen as a strange existence. He has a dream of making a school magazine that breaks free from all the restraints. He often skips classes, making him a hair's breadth away from being kicked out. He is widely read and although he is Japanese, he often uses Taiwanese slang.

About the Author

Zuo Hsuan

She is a comic artist and illustrator. She received a BFA from the Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University. In 2013, she independently published the picture book White of White Paper. In 2015, she published her first full-length comic The Summer Temple Fair, which won the Bronze Award at the Japan International Manga Award.

The copyright for translations of the book in Japanese, French, Italian, and Vietnamese has already been sold. The book has also been adapted into a TV series and was released in July 2021.

In 2017, she participated in the “Manga for Qseries” project and drew the comic version of What She Put On the Table. In 2022, she began to serialize her new work The Banana Sprout. She represented Taiwan at the 2017 Angoulême International Comics Festival in France, the Frankfurt Book Fair, the 2018 New York MOCCA Art Festival in the United States, and the 2022 Lucca Comics and Games in Italy.

《芭蕉的芽》© 左萱/蓋亞文化