This’ll be the last time I put Touch on here, if only because I’m done with it and it was awesome and any further thoughts will be coming in a full review up sometime next week. But before I lock the stadium up, I just want to geek out about one more thing. As before, major spoilers for a 20+ year old manga are coming up.
The title of this chapter alludes to the fact that it concludes a subplot between leading lady Minami and one of her admirers. This process includes a very touching scene of Nishimura, a sympathetic gag character, going full swirly on a couple of asshole guys who mocked his childhood friend. Which is all well and good, but that has next-to-nothing to do with why this chapter’s on here. It’s on here for one face, one which perfectly demonstrates the fiercely expressive power of Adachi Mitsuru’s character designs.
Recently, I’ve been taking on a major item that’s been on my checklist of must-read manga, Adachi Mitsuru’s Touch.* Though it’s not as popular in the States, it’s widely regarded as a classic in Japan. As usual, the conventional wisdom was dead-on and this classic has been a joy to read, bursting with old-timey summer atmosphere, gradually-blooming romance, and dust-covered baseball. I also noticed that several newer works I’ve read before this draw heavy inspiration from it.** Picking just one chapter from the thirty I’ve blazed through so far was difficult. I ultimately settled on this one because, among other things, it rolls out a musical montage to no music.
I’ve talked about Ace of the Diamond before. It’s my second-favorite baseball manga of all time*, and it is so because it a) is not about a team of scrappy underdogs, which allows for b) one of the most interesting dynamics in any sports manga – 4 highly skilled pitchers with alpha dog personalities competing for one starting spot on an elite baseball team. When that dynamic gets folded into competitive baseball matches, the result is a fantastic two-level narrative. This week, we were reminded who was alpha dog prime, and why. Before I go any further into how amazingly unique Tanba is as a character, here’s his “I logged a K against the other team’s ace with the tying run on third and two outs” face.**
Which might as well be the rest of my column, but I like to write
There are few things I treasure more in manga than the ability to surprise me on a page-by-page basis. I love Yuuji Terajima’s Ace of the Diamond, and this chapter did a pretty good job reminding me why, building tension around a straightforward confrontation using clever Eyeshield 21-style visual feints.