Next up in the line of very long series that are very long: Touch, a baseball drama that clocks in at 101 episodes, and it was followed by three compilation movies and two more full-length TV-specials (not included for this review, though). The huge length is no reason to get scared off, though, because this movie is not only one of the finest examples of why anime of the eighties rocks, it also still stands rock-solid as one of the best high-school romances I’ve seen.
Because I must say, the creators made optimal use of the long length. The pacing for this show is very slow, but that did result into a cast of some of the most amazing characters. Especially Tatsuya and Minami receive nearly 100 episodes of pure development, that makes their characters SO believable. Each characters has his own strengths and weaknesses and grows in his or her own subtle way.
Which brings me to the second strength of Touch: absolutely nothing feels forced, and yet it’s full of unpredictable plot-twists. The creators have a knack for setting things up very naturally and yet get the best out of the characters while staying light-years away from melodrama. In fact, the big dramatic scenes are always handled with a wonderful sense of subtlety, rather than trying to squeeze as many tears out of the viewer.
But yeah, the downside of this is that this is one tough series to get through, considering the length. There are strings of tens of episodes without any sort of action and that are just focused on very slooowly fleshing out the characters. We get an outstanding view on their lives this way… but many people will find it boring, especially considering the huge length of this show. One of the challenges in storytelling is choosing a good combination between compactness and completeness, and this show might have gone on for a tad too long.
At times, I have been criticized at being a bit too harsh on anime from the seventies and eighties in my reviews, but my point is this: if those ages could produce shows that are as awesome as Touch, then why couldn’t the others have done the same? The only area at which old anime should be inferior to the newer ones is the animation quality (which by the way, for touch looks quite detailed, especially considering its length), but this series more than proves that the seventies and eighties knew more than enough about what it takes to creating an truly outstanding cast of characters.