H2 article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 4, No. 9, August 2001
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.
Anyone who's experienced the classic Touch (see Animerica Extra 3.12) can understand how fans might have questioned Mitsuru Adachi's ability to develop a second baseball epic of equal quality. After over half a decade of other stories, Adachi finally returned to baseball with H2 and proved without a doubt he could still create a uniquely engaging cast and story using the familiar plot thread of Japan's best loved sport.
Ninth inning.* Two outs. One more and it's a perfect game! The pitcher winds up. He pitches! ...and shatters his elbow. Hiro's introduced with this dream of the end of his baseball career. Later, Hiro's mom asks what he's burning in the yard; it's his baseball glove. "My youth," is his sardonic reply. Mom would rather he burn all those girly magazines beneath his bed. "Those are my life."
This about sums up Hiro's situation. After blowing out his elbow, Hiro was told it would be completely destroyed if he kept playing. So he gave up his aspirations of Koshien (long o) (Japan's high school national baseball championships) and pro ball to embrace the shallow thrill of lechery. Hiro contemplates his fate and baseball's decline in popularity at the local book store where tennis and soccer challenge baseball for shelf space in the sports section. "I have the book you're looking for." The proprietress offers an adult magazine which Hiro initially accepts then rejects in annoyance. The shopkeep is Hikari, a long time friend and sometime love interest who's devoted to Hideo, a fantastic batter and old teammate of Hiro's who has entered a high school with Koshien (long o) potential. Hikari's about to go to the movies with Hideo, and Hiro impotently expresses his disapproval by suggesting her skirt's too short. Hiro's life stinks.
While catching a snack before the movie, Hikari mentions Hiro was perusing the sports shelves. Hideo's glad. Hiro'd be good at most sports, and without baseball, he's just a pervert. Hideo's still disappointed Hiro went so far as to choose a high school with no baseball. Schools everywhere had vied for both of them, and Hiro's elbow wasn't completely ruined. Hikari thinks Hiro's a fool, but Hideo defends him -if not for Hiro he wouldn't be going out with Hikari.
At Senkawa High, a pair of girls gym shorts fall on Hiro's head, then some notebooks, followed by a book bag. Thus is the second heroine, Haruka, introduced. A terrible klutz, Haruka is extremely polite and loves baseball. Hiro decides she's cute. At soccer practice, while getting a time out for being too fit, a baseball lands near Hiro. In annoyance, the soccer captain kicks the ball back to a pair of uniformed players. Hiro'd thought there was no baseball team. "Not a team, a fan club," corrects the captain, "They do little more than play catch." It turns out Haruka is the club's manager and determined to make the club into a team. She's also the daughter of the president of the company where Hiro's Dad works, and wouldn't it be great for Dad if Hiro'd be friends with her...
Adachi further draws the reader in using a challenge game, between the arrogant soccer team and the baseball club, interspersed with glimpses of the characters' pasts. By the end, you WANT the baseball club to succeed. So the stage is set for a story full of humor, romance and baseball. Although the TV series ran short at only 39 episodes, the manga reached a healthy 34 volumes, Adachi's longest series to date. More light-hearted and sports-oriented than its predecessor, H2 offers readers a subtle, entertaining engagement with Hiro and his friends.
*That it's the ninth inning of a potentially perfect game tells the reader immediately that it's a pro game; normally high school games only last seven innings. Feel free to use this info as an insert, if you think it'd be good for one.