“To My Signs”
The first volume of Adachi Mitsuru’s Mix hit the stores last week, and sold 135,000 copies – enough to rank #2 for the week and tops among new releases. There’s no question that Adachi is still a force in Japan – he’s a part of pop culture here in a real and profound way – when he finds the right vehicle.
Mix, being set in the Touch universe as it is, is certainly the right vehicle. But it also raises the issue of whether Adachi can continue to be a force with a monthly series in the same way he was with a weekly. My guess is that he can’t – Mix will certainly outperform his last few works but I doubt it will make the impact his weeklies did. Mix is a very strong manga so far, but Adachi’s style – relaxed, real-time storytelling with a focus on very subtle human interaction – doesn’t especially lend itself well to one-month gaps between chapters. Shounen in theme but seinen in style, I think he needs to be a constant presence in the consciousness the way a weekly manga (or anime) is to have his full impact.
With that said, I remain very interested in the story and the characters, and things continue to develop in intriguing directions at Adachi’s usual glacial pace. We find out this time that nationally famous high school coaches are after the Tachibana brothers, and their corrupt coach is apparently keeping that information from them. There’s a very interesting game of catch between Sou and his step-father, interesting both for the reveal that Sou always wanted (and probably still does) want to be a pitcher, and resents Touma for being more talented. And perhaps even more for his stepfather’s reaction when Sou mentioned how his father never played catch with him, and always said he was no good at baseball. That’s a major foreshadowing if I’ve ever seen one.
I think my favorite moment, though, is (as usual with Adachi) one so subtle it seems almost trivial. When Touma sees Sou answering a bunch of texts he makes a snarky comment, to which his brother asks why he doesn’t get a phone himself and Touma replies “It sounds like a pain in the ass.” Sou and Otomi then proceed to tell him that they’re constantly being asked for Touma’s email address, and Touma seems almost wounded – “What would you want me to do about it?” It reflects that peculiar quality that Adachi’s male leads usually have – self-deprecation in the true sense, not false modesty or self-pity, but a genuine belief that their main responsibility is to be true to themselves. That explains it badly because it’s very hard to put into words, very like one of those Japanese expressions that can’t be properly translated into English – but if you love Adachi as I do, I think you’ll understand what I’m getting at.