Touch DVD-Box - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Toho
  • MSRP: �88,000
  • Running time: 2500
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Touch

Touch DVD-Box

    February 10, 2005
Release Date: November 26, 2004


Touch DVD-Box
© Toho


What They Say
The well beloved 101-episode TV series, "Touch", based on the original work of Adachi Mitsuru serialised in the "Shounen Sunday" magazine, is now finally available on DVD. The video is remastered for release in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the TV broadcast.


The Review!
Based on the best-selling original manga of the same title by Adachi Mitsuru, the "Touch" TV series runs for a total of 101 episodes and is one of the most beloved anime series in Japan. During the broadcast on Japanese TV in the mid-1980s, this series at one stage consistently rated 30+ percentage points.

Audio:
The review is based on the Japanese track as it's the only track available. Although only available in mono, the dialog and music comes across clearly. Did not notice any drop-outs during the course of watching the series.

Video:
The series was first broadcast on TV in March 1985, i.e. nearly 20 years back. The whole series was previously released on LaserDisc in the early 1990s. Toho Video, together with Super Vision, has remastered the video for the DVD release. A source who owns the LaserDisc boxset has confirmed that the video quality of the DVDs surpasses that of the LaserDiscs. The remastering of the video has eliminated nearly all blemishes and it looks pristine and fairly vibrant for such an old series.

Packaging:
The DVD boxset comes packaged in a fairly stiff cardboard box. The cover of the box encompasses the top and all four sides which you lift off to gain accees to the discs. This allows the art on all five sides of the box cover to be uninterrupted with art by the mangaka, Adachi Mitsuru. This is my favourite kind of DVD box. The only downside I find is that it may not be easy to lift the whole box unless you apply some pressure to the lower half of the box to ensure you do not only lift the box cover but the rest of the box as well or you slide the box to the edge of the surface and lift from the bottom.

The box holds 18 DVDs in 9 digipaks, a colour booklet, a small box containing the custom photo table stand to hold the included postcard-size original picture art, and a CD containing 21 tracks.

The 9 digipaks are single fold and holds 2 DVDs per digipak. The 9th digipak holds the last (17th) disc of the series and the extra disc of interviews. The front and back of each digipak has colour art by the mangaka and this is replicated on the discs held within. The back of the digipak provides a listing of the episodes contained in the 2 discs contained in the respective digipaks. Each of the 17 discs contains 6 episodes except for the 17th disc which contains the last 5 episodes.

Menu:
The menu is simple, elegant and straightforward with the direct selection of episodes and chapters available from the menu screen. At each side of the menu screen are 3 episodes each with the chapter stops for the selected episode presented in the centre of the screen. There are no other options in the menu.

Extras:
The full colour booklet of 60 pages contains character information, episode summaries, pictures from the series, chapter listing of the extra DVD, list of songs with their basic credits, and production staff. The booklet is slightly smaller than A5-size and printed on glossy good quality paper stock.

The extra disc (18th DVD) in the package contains 90 minutes of interviews with the 2 main voice actors, Hidaka Noriko (Asakura Minami) and Mitsuya Yuji (Uesugi Tatsuya), as they reminisce on the TV series and provide some behind the scenes views of during the production of the TV series.

The CD included has 21 tracks with the voice actors of Asakura Minami and Uesugi Tatsuya performing cover versions of the songs in the series along with the performance of a few additional songs by Iwasaki Yoshimi, the main singer of most of the songs in the TV series. Personally I would have preferred if the complete soundtrack music box of 4 CDs that was released separately be included but hey, that's just me being greedy.

The photo table stand is made of two clear acrylic plastic plates and are held together by screws and nuts with the 2 longer screws doubling as the stand. The postcard-size Adachi Mitsuru art provided is to be sandwiched between the two plates and the plates secured by the screws for display.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Touch TV series has always been at the back of my mind since I managed to watch a few episodes on VHS tapes a long time back. With the release of this DVD boxset, my wish to watch the whole series has come true.

As a guide to those unfamiliar with this series, "Touch" is a sports anime on high school baseball with shounen drama and romance from the mid-1980s. The art style is reminiscent of its contemporaries, Maison Ikkoku and Kimagure Orange Road.

"Touch" revolves around the relationship of the Uesugi twins, Uesugi Tatsuya and Uesugi Kazuya, with their next door neighbour, Asakura Minami, and the sport of Japanese high school baseball. Tatsuya (Tacchan) is the elder of the twins and is the proverbial and consummate slacker and lecher. The younger twin, Kazuya (Kacchan), is the opposite, an honours student, top athlete and the ace baseball pitcher. Minami is the girl next door who is the same age, has grown up together with the twins, and knows them best. What develops from them is a love triangle.

Their situation is best narrated by Tacchan in the first episode:

Our family, the Uesugi's, and the family next door, the Asakura's, had three children born in the same year. We've always been friends and have been very active. One day, our parents decided that they cannot handle us and they pitched in to construct a playhouse in between our houses for us. At first, it was a place for us to play. A few years later, it became known as the study room. We then noticed that one of the three of us was a girl. It was at around that time...

The series focuses on the trio's relationships with each other with a backdrop of baseball from the last year in junior high school and all the way through high school. Right from the start we are given hints as to how the relationship is shaping up and who Minami prefers. What follows is a development of the characters that give us a better understanding of who they are and what they are capable of.

Touch can be broken down into four parts - Part 1 runs from episode 1 to episode 27, Part 2 covers episodes 28 to 56, Part 3 from episodes 57 to 79, and Part 4 takes it to the finish line from episode 80 onwards. A brief rundown of the parts:

Part 1
Introduction to the characters and sets up the whole series. The three graduate from Meisei Junior High School to enter Meisei High School together. Covers their first year of high school.

Part 2
Tacchan gets traded from the boxing club to the baseball club in his second year of high school over an autographed card. He steps forward to prove himself.

Part 3
In the third year, the baseball coach's health problems results in him being sidelined. An interim baseball coach is appointed to temporarily replace him while he is incapacitated and the interim coach has an axe to grind. It is also Minami's time to achieve something for herself.

Part 4
The road to the Koshien.

"Touch" focuses a lot on character development and growth within the story throughout the course of the series. Tacchan is portrayed from the start as a slacker and yet we find out a bit more of his hidden qualities that he has suppressed to be in the shadows of his younger brother. His continued selflessness in letting his brother shine results in his severe lack of self-confidence. In turn, we learn that Kacchan is not as clear cut a prodigy as thought. He has worked hard and persistently applied himself to get where he is as a top student and an ace pitcher. He also suspects that his elder brother has been purposefully losing out to him whenever they compete. The contrast between the twins are played up and their passive competition for Minami's interest with Kacchan showing a greater interest and Tacchan stepping aside, although at times, he shows his deeply harboured interest.

The girl at the centre of it all, Minami, is a breath of fresh air as it's refreshing to see in an anime series where an ordinary girl is no pushover in studies, sports and, most notably, in relationships. She speaks her mind and freely at that too. Being close friends and a long time neighbour with the twins throughout their lives, she is the main person who sees the brothers as who they really are. While Kacchan is continuously praised and Tacchan is popularly referred to as the "baka aniki" (i.e. idiot brother") in school, Minami comes out advancing Tacchan's cause, like volunteering him for a mixed gender run. We slowly get to see what she knows, i.e. that he is no slouch when he seriously puts his efforts into it.

With so much focus on the main characters, the fair number of supporting characters in the series are not neglected and are given their due time in development. They start off looking like cookie cutter characters but they are developed with depth and often turn out differently from the expected cliches with a real world believability that is not commonly found in anime. The main supporting characters are Matsudaira Koutarou, the baseball catcher, who is Kacchan's baseball battery partner; Harada Shouhei, the big thug who is close to the three; and Nitta Akio, a baseball slugging ace who is a rival to the twins. As a rival, Nitta Akio is no caricature of a rival as his character would qualify as the classic hero type in any other show. He is smart, calm, confident, considerate and kind. During the series, Minami is tempted by what he offers as he presents her with a very compelling alternative.

The most interesting of all the supporting characters though is Harada Shouhei as the cliche of a clueless dumb big thug is really turned on its head in "Touch". Harada, who for all appearances of a big thug, has great perception and is real savvy. His trademark phrase of "Naruhodo" (i.e. "I see") is often a prompt to the viewers to take note and during the course of the whole series, he provides a lot of insight into the lead characters.

For a series as long as this, there is no real antagonist save one, the interim coach Kashiwaba who is introduced in the third part and comes into play right through to the end. And yet, he is not as bad as initially portrayed and regarded as the devil coach by the baseball club members.

Throughout "Touch", there are a fair number of games as the sport of baseball is fairly omnipresent as a backdrop to all the character drama. Most of the games are quite well scripted. Although the games may not be totally realistic but there is more than enough in there for viewers to get caught up in enjoying the games and the tension therein. There is a key event happening just before and during one of the baseball games that affects the entire series deeply in a very dramatic way. I dare say that this key event was pulled off with stunning effect.

For a series spanning 101 episodes, some are keen to know whether the series has a proper ending to make the journey worthwhile. Take heart that the series does have a highly satisfyng ending that realises a number of the situations with regards to the characters and their growth. The ending of the series also does in a way substantially tie in with how the manga series ended.

In summary:
After watching "Touch" in its entirety, I well and truly understand why this sports anime series is hailed as an anime classic by long time anime enthusiasts and I do wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. It is not just a sports anime but a character driven series that harks back to a wistful gentler time and a slower pace of life (and anime) with well-developed characters that grow and work their way into your heart. Just ordinary people in an ordinary world and yet so familiar that they become a part of your life. "Touch" has secured a permanent place in my heart as one of my all-time favourites.

Now that the DVD is out in Japan, I'm hoping that there is not long to wait before the license for this anime series gets picked up for release outside of Japan. This series deserves to be better known.


Features
Japanese language only, Full colour 60-page booklet, Extra DVD containing 90 minutes of interviews with the main voice actors, Special CD soundtrack of 21 songs, Photo table picture frame and stand with postcard-sized Adachi Mitsuru art

Review Equipment
Philips 29" TV, Panasonic DVD-RP82

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