TOUCH article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 3, No. 12, November 2000
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.
TOUCH guaranteed Mitsuru Adachi a place among the stars of manga, and it remains one of the most beloved sports series of all time. Revolving around three high school students raised together since birth, TOUCH runs its readers through the gambit of emotions, from laughter to tears, making the everyday life of its characters into a dramatic, touching story.
The comic begins with a bit of a puzzle. From the left, a girl walks into a one-room building, leaving with her school bag. From the right, a boy does the same. The two, Minami and Kazuya, meet on the street. It's been a while since they've walked to school together because Kazuya's devotion to baseball keeps him so busy. Belatedly, we see another boy, half-dressed, run into the little building for his bag. It's Tatsuya, Kazuya's older twin. Later, we learn the little building was built between their families' houses just for them, for they were very rambunctious children. Tatsuya catches up to them at school where the daily pile of love letters falls out of Kazuya's shoe locker. Tatsuya picks them up, copping one before handing them to his brother. Minami teases Tatsuya about not getting any letters, but both are surprised by the note atop Tatsuya's shoes. It's no love letter, but a challenge to a fight. After school, instead of watching baseball practice, Tatsuya meets with the girl from his brother's love letter. Since Tatsuya has combed his hair and taken on a serious air like his twin, the poor girl has no idea she's being duped until Minami happens by. Minami knows the twins too well to be fooled and rumples Tatsuya's hair back to normal, declaring, "Ta-chan is Ta-chan! Ka-chan is Ka-chan!" Tatsuya doesn't see why he can't have one of the many girls who pursue his brother. Turning to leave, he walks into a mountain of a student, the one who wrote the challenge. After a sound beating, Tatsuya is rescued by the challenger's sister. She explains the boy she likes said he likes someone else, so her brother shouldn't be mad. Besides, Tatsuya's not him; the boy she likes is much better looking. Such is the life of Tatsuya.
While Kazuya works hard to get his team to Nationals, the life of Tatsuya plays out as a constant reminder of his inferiority to his brother. Throughout the story, flashbacks offer glimpses into the history of the twins and Minami. Tatsuya did not always approach life with the half-hearted effort he does now, nor was Kazuya a great athlete. Actually, Tatsuya has a great deal of athletic talent, he's just never developed it because he didn't want to outdo his brother. Tatsuya's love for Kazuya and knowing Kazuya has had to struggle for his success keep the audience from disliking him for his relative perfection. Both have always cared for Minami, and always she has remained equally supportive, giving neither favor over the other. This love triangle is one of the most engaging you'll find, inside or out of the genre of sports manga.
Published in Shonen Sunday from 1981 to 1987, TOUCH ran 26 volumes, inspiring a 101 episode TV series and 3 movies. Extra readers who experienced Short Program can appreciate why Adachi is such a revered artist. With his subtle, masterful story telling and remarkable ability to portray sports in action, TOUCH is a story which can appeal to anyone, sports fan or no. Because of its careful pacing and slow build-up of drama and character development, TOUCH is best experienced from the beginning. So find yourself a copy of book one and see what you've been missing.