OP: 「Starting Over」 by (sumika)
「よろしく頼むわ」 (Yoroshiku Tanomuwa)
“Looking Forward to Working With You”
Throwing the opening pitch for the Spring 2023 season, we have MIX. Overall, it was a pretty introductory episode (cue the periodic on screen name cards) to get us up to speed with the continuation of the previous season.
In the aftermath of Meisei’s showdown against Toushu, Tachibanas Tou (Kaji Yuuki) and Sou (Uchida Yuuma) move on, though the clown of the town, Nishimura Takumi (Nara Tooru) hasn’t, treating them to a “morning” (noon) gripe session on Seinan’s score. Like usual, Takumi grates on me with his Otomi obsession (much as his father’s Minami obsession did). Whenever his face appears, an outdated, untasteful joke is bound to follow (and it did, with Tou’s ensuing warning “Otomi lock your room”). Why the Nishimura father and son pair are one of the few direct callbacks to Touch, I’ll never know-there were so many other characters to choose from.
Front and center are the sibling relationships-the Sou and Tou battery and love triangle with Haruka. Sou’s got the hots for Haruka, scrambling out the door to meet her on the field, as Otomi (Uchida Maaya ) wryly notes, though this doesn’t seem to bother Tou, who is more concerned with step-sister Otomi. I find their nicknames interesting-a possible baseball pun. Sou is the catcher and “Soukyuu” means “throwing a ball” while Tou is the pitcher and “Toushu” is the Japanese word for pitcher. Of course, that could just be reading too much into things. The thing that half bothers me about Mix is that the character relationships (even down to the “twin” brother dynamics and childhood friend love triangle) and so on are highly reminiscent of Touch, yet it isn’t Touch. It’s like that bizarre ramen Napolitan-it resembles the original enough to almost fool you, until you bite into it-but like the Mesei boys, you have to take what you can get.
In contrast to the friendly rivalry and solid partnership between the Tachibana brothers, we have the rift between the Akai brothers, a contrast I found interesting in S1. Not only are the Akai brothers at different schools in different sports (Ryou soccer, Tomohito baseball), they are at clear odds with each other, in contrast to the Tachibana brothers. Tomohito (Suzuki Tatsuhisa) openly berates Ryou (Nishiyama Koutarou) for losing the soccer game, in front of Ryou fangirl, Arisa. Pretty shameful move, really-it’s precisely at those times when you need support and solidarity. I get the sense that this rift might grow even wider in S2. It makes me wonder if after facing soccer disappointment and family scorn (even his mother gets in a gentle “You lost again” dig), if it’ll push Ryou to enter the Mesei baseball club. There are certainly enough open spaces with the seniors graduating, and not enough quality applicants (mostly fame and female seekers).
One eye-catching applicant (at least to Tou), was Nishiki Kenji (Fukunishi Masaya)-an ex-baseball member turned (supposed) hooligan. While Tou sees promise in him, the captain does not, red-flagging Nishiki’s violent streak. Certainly, our first time seeing him, beaten and bruised in the hospital (he supposedly “fell down” the shrine steps) gives that impression, followed by the captain’s comment that he saw Nishiki beating up a baseball club member. My thought is-no-one asks why he got in those fights. Maybe he had his reasons (not that you should ever punch anyone for any reason). It seems unfair to reject him solely on that basis without getting the full story-we don’t know if Nishiki was egged on or attacked first. It’s kind of suspicious that the baseball member involved told Imagawa to stay quiet-if he wasn’t a guilty party, he would have no reason to shush the witnesses. Something tells me this won’t be the last we see of Nishiki, especially not if Tou, who’s taken an interest in him, has anything to do with it.
All in all, this was a typical episode for Mix and sets the field up nicely for S2, gearing up for the Spring qualifiers, breaking in new team mates, and revisiting the familiar dynamics between friends and family. While it’s not in the league of Touch or Cross Game, I’m still glad to have a continuing adaptation of an Adachi series.
ED: 「ハルノオト」 (Haru no Oto) by (miwa)