“Will you give it your best shot?”
“Yeah…if I’m in the mood.”
These words end a short, but important exchange in episode five of Touch, the long-running anime adaptation of the hit manga series by Mitsuru Adachi. Recently, I revisited Cross Game anime and read the lastest Viz Media release of that series, which led me to take on the challenge of the 100+ episode Touch series created by the same mangaka. Challenge might be too heavy of a word, though, since I love Cross Game and enjoyed pulling different ideas from it. Touch, I knew, had major similarities, but so far (note: I wrote this post six episodes into the series. I’ve now finished the first season.) the show is more different than I thought it’d be.
For one, Tatsuya is presented as much more of a slacker than Ko is (perhaps this is because Ko takes on a role that might be a melding of Kazuya and Takuya), as expressed in the exchange with his twin brother given above. And though the relay race they’re discussing doesn’t go totally according to plan, Tatsuya still shows his inner ability and talent. He doesn’t get the glory, but he still lives out a pretty extraordinary existence – athletically gifted and with beautiful girls having some (maybe great) interest in him.
It’s a normal life that isn’t.
Let me explain – I’m reminded of my own self in school. I’ve always thought of myself as a fast runner, but really, I think this is pride and imagination at work. I always ran well, but good enough to be a champion? Or even a track athlete? Maybe not. But like Tatsuya, I would’ve loved to surprise everyone with innate ability, while the most popular girls paid attention to me, even if I wasn’t the supreme object of their affection. A very minor dream, to be sure, but one that wasn’t entirely realistic.
Not all of us (and maybe otaku more than others) can achieve the heights of athleticism or popularity that we might wish for. And as school passes us by, an extraordinary life might seem even further out of reach, as goals and ambitions grow, sometimes also growing further away as well. Becoming a stud athlete becomes want for a perfect spouse, house, and kids, and the latter dream may be harder to achieve than the first.
But we can live an extraordinary life.
How? Through our legacy.
I’m not talking about leaving money to causes (though that’s wonderful). Our legacy is born through how we affect others. Our relationships reveal what’s really meaningful about it. They are also, in essence, what Jesus says life comes down to. He stated the most important commandment is to love God; second is to love others. Both ideas have to do with relationships, further establishing the idea that the Christian God is a relational One.
An extraordinary life develops as we nurture relationships. It’s in the steps we take to help others and to love those in need. And in a most normal way, we can become extraordinary people who leave a mark by helping others persevere, grow, conquer, survive, hold on, transform, and love.
And I have a feeling that although Takuya will reveal an amazing physical talent, this series will revolve around that most extraordinary of things – interaction and bonds between those that love and those that need it. As Cross Game (and most other sports series for that matter) demonstrate, the glory of athletic championships and other self-serving dreams always take second place behind the real prize – loving those around us.