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Score: 7.35/10

Mix

Alt Title : Mix: Meisei Story

JP Title : MIX(ミックス)

Year : 2019

Genre : Drama, Romance, School, Shounen, Sports

Season : Spring 2019

Status : Complete

Rating : PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

Episodes : 24/24

Duration : 23 min. per ep.

Studios : OLM

Synopsis

Because of the legend left by Tatsuya Uesugi, Meisei Academy High School was well-known for their strong baseball team. But 26 years after their glory, the team has not been able to keep their record and has since lost their fame. Two stepbrothers, Souichirou and Touma Tachibana, aim to revive of the once-strong Meisei Academy baseball team and enter the National High School Baseball Championship. Souichirou and Touma are second years in Meisei Academy Middle School. Both boys are talented baseball players. Souichirou has shown excellent skill as a catcher and batter. Though having an extraordinary skill as a pitcher, Touma no longer pitches due to a certain reason. Once the two enter high school, they pair as a battery and aim to enter the National High School Baseball Championship! (Source: YTV, edited)

I am not generally a fan of sports anime, but the one major exception is Cross Game, a story about love, loss, and baseball which I would call one of the greatest anime of the 2000s, with the most emotionally potent first episode (and one of the strongest finales) I’ve ever seen in anime. That’s highly relevant because Cross Game, like Mix, is based on a manga by Mitsuru Adachi, which should be immediately obvious to anyone who has seen both series. Indeed, the character designs between the two titles are so similar that it almost looks like the cast of Cross Game was just ported over and reskinned to populate the cast of this one. (It’s also worth noting that Mix is a spinoff of Adachi’s even earlier baseball manga Touch, which portrays the 1986 trip to Koshien described in the narration and flashbacks; Adachi borrowed heavily from it for Cross Game as well.)

The inescapable comparison to Cross Game doesn’t do Mix’s first episode any favors. It definitely does not start out like the powerhouse that was Cross Game, although admittedly that’s a high bar for comparison. Instead, this is generally a more lighthearted introduction that focuses on establishing the the setting and premise. Two step-brothers on a middle school baseball team have the talent to form an excellent battery, but their pitcher is being overlooked in favor of the scion of a wealthy family. The implication is that the coach may be beholden to higher powers on this one, as he also ignores an incoming first-year who has considerable talent as a pitcher, and baseball isn’t being taken seriously enough at their school for the team to return to Koshien after a 30-year absence. Hence there’s a fair amount of potential for drama going forward. The first episode also remains dodgy about the relationship of the Tachibana brothers; they’re indicated to have been born at different hospitals but only a few minutes apart, which suggests that either one is adopted or they are stepbrothers who came to live together when one’s father married the other one’s mother. (The other option – that the father almost simultaneously impregnated two women – seems unlikely.)

There’s also at least some potential for romance. The hotshot newcomer has an interest in the brother’s younger sister, and she seems to have a passion for watching the brothers play baseball. She’s also designated as one of the protagonists, so we’ll have to see how that shakes out. The technical details on the baseball pitching are expected for a series like this, though the animation as a whole isn’t anything spectacular. Overall, the first episode isn’t bad by any means, it has some interesting gimmicks like being framed as a video that is occasionally fast-forwarded, and it certainly establishes its premise well, so it’s off to a relatively solid start. It’s just not on the level of its predecessor yet. You can also free Mix anime watch online and free anime download.

For someone whose all-time favourite anime is Touch, there's a strange feeling to be had watching a quasi-sequel an entire thirty plus years after Touch originally aired. A mixture of nostalgia and of heavy emotions, of how things were and how they are, of how we have changed but not changed much at all. But throughout it all, the one emotion that lingered strongest was: "I wish I was watching Touch instead." It's a story that has been done thrice before, with Mix now being Adachi Mitsuru's fourth at-bat with coming-of-age baseball dramas. The biggest difference here is that Mix isn't so much a personal story in the way that Touch and Cross Game were, but is an entirely sports-focused series in a similar vein to H2, albeit with heavy themes of family and nostalgia. Touch in particular was focused on themes of trauma, guilt, angst, loss, and love, of trying to prove yourself and trying to be someone who you are not. There are none of these things in Mix— not even a touch of romance— which makes the entire experience pretty mild unless an already prodigy-level pitcher aiming for first place at the Koushien is all you ever needed. The matches are engaging in typical Adachi Mitsuru fashion, as they can be over in a split-second from the tiniest of mistakes, making it impossible to reliably predict who will win and who will lose. No team is invincible, and no player is infallible. The epic music crescendos with Touma's masterful pitches, each landing with a loud thud as the innings rack up and the stakes increase. One mistake, one poor pitch and Meisei could be immediately sent home with nothing but regret and a years-long wait until next summer's tournament. While the first half of Mix is largely slice-of-life and an introduction to the characters, the second half is extremely tense and devoted to Meisei's run at the summer tournament. As a sports anime, Mix is great. But with only twenty-four episodes devoted to a still-ongoing manga, with enough chapters to already cover several seasons worth of similarly paced content, to have things end as prematurely as they do makes the anime feel like lost potential. "Really... that's it? No sequel announcement? This is how we're ending?", I thought, as my video player reached the end of the final episode's credits. Adachi Mitsuru's anime adaptations— namely Touch and Cross Game— are notable in how they actually portrayed the entire story despite the length of their manga source material. Touch told a full story, from beginning to end. So did Cross Game. But Mix, unless things are to change, has only told about 10% of the entire story, hoping anime viewers will be OK with an ending that doesn't conclude anything or make the viewer feel at all happy with where things are leaving off. It's like a manga that was gutted and canceled with two week's notice— it simply isn't an ending. But I guess that is the fate of anime produced in 2019. The days of fifty, a hundred episodes airing weekly is behind us, with three different seasons produced over an entire decade being the best one could hope for. Most of the time anime adaptations will simply end after the thirteen episodes and remain incomplete stories. It's a shame Mix was produced in 2019 instead of a decade ago when longer stories still had a fighting chance. Because, you know, Touch never even showed its true colors until twenty-five episodes had passed. Maybe there is more here as the story progresses, and maybe, just maybe, had it been a full adaptation, it could have had the potential to match or even surpass Touch. I enjoyed Mix. I enjoyed returning to a peaceful setting painted by Adachi Mitsuru, and hearing all the silly fourth-wall-breaking gags the characters prod the viewer with. The summer tournament in the latter half was climactic and exciting. But every time the show would reference Touch, with Touma pitching next to Tatsuya - his splitting image - I would feel a desire to simply return to Touch instead, much, I suppose, as Touma's coach is haunted by nostalgia, unable to let go of his memories at Meisei thirty years past. So I write this review, six years after I wrote my Touch review, with manga volumes of Touch and Cross Game still standing next to my computer desk. Obviously I haven't let go just yet, but that doesn't mean I didn't give Mix a fair shot, either. I just don't think it did it best.

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