OK, I’m hooked.
Simply put, this was a much more engaging chapter than the first – hardly surprising, really, given the weight of exposition in the first chapter. Adachi-sama doesn’t milk the suspense for too long, giving us answers to most of the riddles of the first chapter, and in the process delivers a chapter full of wit and foreshadowing in vintage fashion.
To get it out of the way, Touma and Souchirou are stepbrothers, and Otomi is Souchirou’s sister. Touma’s mother and Souchirou and Otomi’s father both passed away (this is Adachi, after all) and the surviving spouses remarried when the boys were six, and Otomi five. I’m starting to wonder if Adachi is ever going to run out of ways to tweak the traditional family unit, but be that as it may, that’s what we have here. Touma’s stepmother calls him “Touma-chan”, which he hates, and Souchirou lords it over him that he was born ten minutes earlier (according to separate hospital records, anyway). But apart from that, the family seems to be close-knit and happy.
Now does this mean our eventual romance pairing in Mix – and this being Adachi, we have to have one – will be Touma and Otomi? Even step-incest is a bit edgy for Adachi-sensei, but these are the 2010’s, so I guess anything’s possible. Natsuno-kun would certainly like to intrude on that, I suspect. As for the baseball side of the equation, this actually feels more like a Cross Game than Touch scenario so far. We have injustice in the school baseball club, with the boys effectively doing their own thing when the coach’s back is turned. The cause is that the team is effectively sponsored by local businessman Nikaidou-san, old friends with the coach, and it’s his son who’s the only pitcher despite not being very good. And the son seems to especially dislike Touma, too.
What really made this chapter snap was the trademark Adachi self-referential humor and a twinge of “Touch” wistfulness. For example, the Nomo sweatshirt the grade-schooler Souchirou wears (in flashback). And my favorite, Otomi saying she named her puppy “Punch” because a “weird guy” appeared to her in a dream – and we see the man, wearing a G-pen strapped to his back like a samurai sword and holding a giant sign saying “NAME HIM PUNCH”. The thing with Adachi is he makes his readers feel like they’re in a private club – constantly winking at them and poking fun at himself in the process. I’ve yet to see a mangaka use self-referential humor – which can be wearisome in the wrong hands – as well as Adachi does.
When the “real” practice begins after the coach and Nikaidou-kun go home and Natsuno-kun notices the music “from that baseball anime that used to air on TV – they play it at Koshien!” emanating from Otomi’s classroom, you get the sense that Mix has officially started. “Will Otomi ever get to play “that” at the Summer Koshien again?” Will she indeed, Adachi-sensei – I’m certainly keen to find out. The magic of Adachi is that he can keep returning to the same themes over and over, yet continue to make them feel fresh. Despite my worries, I suppose if there was ever a mangaka I’d trust to do a sequel right, he’d be the one.