I’m not an expert on his works, but I would call myself an Adachi admirer. And so after episodes one and two of Mix: Meisei Story, I supposed that I generally knew where the story was going, and specifically where the first arc would go. But episode three reminded me that Adachi isn’t only a master of tone and art, but an excellent writer as well. He may take us ultimately to the place we expect, but the route could be anything but.
Episode three quickly brings us through three games—a practice one and two tournament matches, both won by Meisei Junior High when the school hadn’t made it past round one in two decades. In these games, we see Nikaido pitch in live game action for the very first time. He doesn’t give up many runs, but the weaknesses are what we thought they would be—his pitches are nothing special and his stamina is weak. But what is surprising is that Nikaido has positive attributes. He wants to win. He displays emotion. He listens to Sou’s leading from the catcher position. And he displays a fiery attitude when needed.
Besides all that, Imawaka, the team captain, speaks plainly and rudely to Nikaido, who doesn’t fight back. Could it be that Nikaido isn’t as bad as Sou and Tou picture him to be, and that his father is the one and only enemy here? Could the manager be supporting Nikaido knowing that his dad is the difficult one?
Also unexpected—though probably only for me—is that the series is moving closer and closer to pushing Tou and Otomi as a couple. Although he loudly denies it and she seems clueless to the possibility, their intimacy with one another and, in fact, those very actions by the two seem to indicate that they’ll end up together. It’s not a coupling I would expect from this series, and one I hope doesn’t develop, since Adachi’s work carries an innocence that sets it at some higher standard, at least in my mind. That all makes me wonder if something will occur that will make it okay for us as an audience to accept this coupling.
Unfortunately, that “okay event” turns my mind immediately to death.
The latter half of this episode brings in the most unexpected details of all, and these connect to and perhaps even foreshadow death. When Tou and Otomi go to the vet, Eisuke plays catch with his adoptive son, who tells him that he never did so with his biological father, who merely watched him play and claimed that he himself was not a very good player. Eisuke’s reaction to that story, as well as his own admission that he isn’t a very good pitcher, leads us to believe that Sou’s dad was an excellent ballplayer and probably a pitcher as well (The number one jersey discussed in the previous episode perhaps belongs to Sou and Otomi’s biological father?).
That scene, combined with Sou’s seeming desire, somewhere deep inside, to be a pitcher, just blew this series open for me. Does Sou end up being the pitcher instead of Tou? Do they end up having a deep rivalry at pitcher? And does this series go the direction of Touch, it’s predecessor, by killing off one of the pitching brothers? It would seem exceedingly unfair if either Tou of Sou died, the earlier because he has a very obvious arc to complete, one that will help him, I think, understand the nature of love, while killing off Sou would just feel so wrong—he’s the imperfect guy that’s easy to root for. It would be like killing off Kou from Cross Game, or for those unfamiliar, Ichigo from Bleach.
So…does that mean Otomi dies? Or another to-be introduced character (the other girl figuring in the OP perhaps)? Or no one one at all?
The importance that death has on the series and how viewers approach it, whether it actually happens or not, goes to show that Adachi himself has become a plot element. Our knowledge of how he tells stories contributes to what we expect from this one, and he’s using it to his advantage (or the director is) by creating tension here. Where is this story going? We all think we know, but as Adachi has shown in the past, and is doing again now—we should expect the unexpected.
MIX: Meisei Story can be streamed through Funimation.