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The romantic aspect of Touch: episodes 12-89

Of all the things that can be seen in Touch (there’s a lot, obviously, as it’s 101 episodes), it has been the relationship between Minami and Tatsuya that has affected me the most. Although the first few episodes have been red herrings with regard to the complex relationship among Kazuya, Tatsuya and Minami, I could never forget that even when Kazuya was still alive Minami was already partial towards Tatsuya: she rejected Kazuya’s advances and confessions, but kissed Tatsuya full on the lips after his loss from a boxing match. It was also obvious that Tatsuya was merely playing the clown so as not to overshadow his younger brother who has poured so much time and effort trying to be perfect.

Not many people saw it as such, however, with the majority (even Tatsuya’s parents) thinking of Tatsuya as a failure. It was only Minami who saw through the legerdemain and still thought highly of Tatsuya. Their history, after all, simply suggested that it was due to Tatsuya’s altruism that Kazuya was able to prosper and propel himself forward. If left to his own devices, Tatsuya’s past reflected someone who had more talent than Kazuya. Tatsuya just didn’t want to dampen his brother’s dreams, and welcomed the forging of a relationship between Kazuya and Minami.

Minami, however, wanted otherwise. It was quite obvious that she liked Tatsuya romantically after the kiss, and it’s kept on proving itself in the course of the series. In a much later episode (episode 89), their mother commented on the neediness of Kazuya, and she recognized, perhaps belatedly, that Tatsuya was just letting his brother flourish. My only problem was the lack of focus on the romantic development between Tatsuya and Minami, although I understand that it was for the sake of their own individual progress: the last scenes of them physically reaffirming their love for one another was in episode 44. Episode 46 was an episode full of subtle romantic banter, but there was nothing physical in their interactions.

For the next forty or so episodes, little focus was placed on the romance aspect between the protagonists: instead, Minami was slowly trying to excel as a gymnast, and Tatsuya was trying his best to be unbeatable as a pitcher and a baseball player in general. It was only with the mirror of the Kashiwaba brothers with one woman they both love that the rivalry between them as brothers and as lovers was tackled once more: in this case, the older brother also triumphed over the younger brother, with bitterness being the only passion fueling the younger brother’s life. The situation was very different, as both brothers were achievers, and the altruistic one was the younger instead of the elder. Still, one can’t help but wonder what would happen to Kazuya in the future had he lived, especially because even with his achievements Minami’s heart was always with Tatsuya, and Minami seems to be the one person Tatsuya will never give up to Kazuya despite his efforts.

I just wish there was something more visible between Minami and Tatsuya in those forty episodes. I’m not complaining, however: when an anime series forces me to stay awake until the wee hours of the morning, I really think it’s good. I still have about 11 episodes to go, but at this point I prefer Cross Game more because it was able to progress simultaneously the plot, Kou’s progress, and the subtle evolution of Aoba’s affections towards Kou. Tatsuya is a more likable character, however, and I can empathize with him more. Both series are great.