Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baseball and Touch

It is without a doubt that Adachi Mitsuru is the ruler of romantic comedy and he also knows how to write a baseball manga. I will be the first to admit, I'm not usually one for baseball mangas unless it's Ookiku Furikabutte. I usually find the characters too one dimensional and all the "powering up" can get annoying after a while. 

Yet Touch doesn't get that way at all. It's a depiction of what baseball can bring out in people, but it's not an all encompassing theme; which I, as a reader, appreciate. 

This is not going to be a real essay, but just thoughts I had while reading. 

I should warn you, there are spoilers (as always) with this essay.

As most manga readers already know, baseball manga are a dime a dozen. The fact that baseball is the most popular sport in Japan is to blame for that. Most baseball manga follow the shounen formula of unusually strong character, first big defeat, series of chapters of him "leveling up", and then the final competition that, of course, leads to the winning of koshien.

Of course, this manga is a comedy and those light-hearted feelings are continued throughout the plot, but the added impact of the death of Kazuya changes the playing field. Instead of it only being a baseball and romantic comedy manga, it becomes a manga that tells of the story of one boys grief.

While it is true that Adachi follows part of, okay a lot of, this formula the tone of the manga changes how the formula is applied. The sibling relationship between Kazuya and Tatsuya and their almost love triangle with Minami draw more attention at the beginning of the manga. This creates the light-hearted romantic comedy and pushes the fact that Kazuya is such an amazing pitcher into second place. It is not until after Kazuya is hit by a car that baseball becomes the center stage.

Yet the reason why it becomes center stage is not to herald the game, but to crystalize the grieving all the characters feel after Kazuyas death. As twins, Tatsuya and Kazuya are characterized as being very close, yet different people. I was very intrigued by the fine line the manga walked between Tatsuya becoming a replacement for Kazuya on the baseball team and Tatsuya's dream to finish what Kazuya started. 

By adding this layer to the manga it allows it to move past the "romantic comedy" and "baseball" stereotypes and propels it forward. While, in Adachi Mitsuru's way, he is able to keep the manga light-hearted and the comedic timing and his breaking the third-wall run amuck he is able to change how the reader and the characters look at baseball. Of course, that is accomplished by the death of Kazuya, but it is more the attachment that Kazuya had to baseball and Tatsuya's feelings about Kazuya that make this change possible.

I have yet to read H2, which I've heard from many Adachi fans in the better manga. When I do get to reading it, I will be doing a comparison.

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