This is my first time reading a Mitsuru Adachi story, even though the direct prequel of this manga (Touch) is considered a classic in the sports genre.
That said, im a very big fan of sports manga, and baseball manga specifically, and this one does not dissapoint. I do not know how well it holds up against its predecessor but this is a very solid baseball manga. There are some references made here and there about the events that happened in Touch, but honestly not having read it myself, i dont feel like im lost or cant follow the story without it, so feel free to read (and watch the anime when it comes out) to your hearts content!
A story about two step-brothers forming the perfect battery, with the added premise that both of them wanted to be the pitcher... just hearing that made me think about all the possibilities of conflict that could come from a setting such as this.
This manga does NOT dilly dally at all. The games dont go over too long and it doesnt go into it too deep (inning by inning.) It focuses more on climatic events, like if someone stole a base or if anyone got a hit.
The amount of named characters is short, compared to an usual sports manga (where you have to keep track of every player of every major team). Pitcher, Cleanup Hitter, Coaches and (in the very rare case of one of our protagonists, Sōichirō) Catcher. Thats all you need to know.
These last two points can be good or bad things depending on what you want when you read sports manga (personally im here for the characters relationship, i mean a brother battery? This is definitely the focus.)
For example, the fact that the focus is on pitcher-cleanup and pitcher-pitcher showdowns makes for pretty repetitive games. Rarely there are exciting events such as double plays or base stealing, as the manga definitely doesnt care about fielders or bases. But when it happens it sure is exciting, however not as exciting as some scenes you might find in Diamond no Ace or Oofuri. Still really gets your blood pumping for a moment.
Another gripe i have about this is the focus of the story when it comes to the protagonists personal character arcs. There are 3 protagonists in this story and I will break them down next.
First you got Tachibana Touma, the “youngest” of the two brothers (by 10 minutes) and the Pitcher. Hes your usual baseball-manga-protagonist. Hes a genius level Pitcher whos sure of his abilities and wants to go all the way to Koshien. Hes here to play baseball and throw the ball, everything else is just being a normal highschool kid. Everyone knows hes a genius and everyone says it at least once.
Second you got Tachibana Sōichirō, who is beyond a genius somehow. Hes just naturally good at baseball. In his team hes the best catcher, best hitter and he used to be an incredible pitcher. But, he suffers a bit in Adachi senseis formula, he doesnt get nearly as much screentime or focus as his brother Touma and youd think being relagated to being catcher doesnt bother him. Thankfully that changes a bit further down the line where we get to see more of him outside of his “cool” presence. Hes my favorite.
The Tachibana bros are great as brothers as battery and as characters. Theyre almost always together and they play well off eachother, its good content.
But theres more.
See, theres a third protagonist. Tachibana Otomi, their younger sister (related only to Sōichirō by blood). And, yall. I have to say it. Adding a girl character for the purpose of fanservice is rotten and unnecessary. I know her role is to create conflict between Touma and Sōichirō, but theres so many things about her being here that bother me so much. Gratuitous fanservice is one. Another is that Touma, whos been her brother since they were 5, who SEES her as a sister, sometimes thinks about her as something... more. Which is BAD. I know theyre not related by blood but they see eachother as siblings so theres a problem there. And third and just a pet peeve, she has nothing to do with baseball. All we see of her is going to the pool or swim class and being chased by other players. Its not great.
But I was able to get past these, because the story is just so good. And dont get me started on the art! The art is incredibly charming, full of motion and it really just makes you feel like youre watching anime from back when it was good. Honestly I cant get enough of it, so im off to check out Touch next while i wait for the next issue of Mix!