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Literature / Touch

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A survival story.
James, our protagonist
Touch, by Rhythm, is a Web Serial Novel centered around James Toranaga, a young boy who, following an incident of sexual assault, develops the ability to fly.

The story follows James and a small group of those around him as they attempt to come to terms with the trials and tribulations of emotional recovery in a world where weirdness is hiding just behind the veil.

While technically an action story, the plot focuses heavily on themes of psychological harm and recovery, and the consensus of reviews received on the Web Fiction Guide seems to be that the true strength of the piece is in its realistic and compelling characters. That said, more recent chapters have been leaning a little more into the action side of things.

Trigger Warning: From chapter one, Touch deals with some pretty heavy themes, such as sexual assault and abuse, and a trigger warning is issued to any prospective readers. While it is generally regarded as handling the subjects responsibly, its degree of honesty means that it tends not to shy away from subjects that certain readers may find difficult.


This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Casper's father used to beat him and once shattered his arm.
  • Action Girl: Tasha, the main girl of the group, has super strength. Which she uses. A lot.
  • Adorkable: Both James and Casper are good for this, spending half their time arguing with each other about their respective preferences in anime.
  • Affably Evil: Father might be a delusional wizard with a personal cabal of brainwashed slaves, but he's also a gentlemanly, kind, and largely good humored individual.
  • Alternate Universe: It's heavily implied that this is where magical creatures and beings come from.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Goblins. Apparently even Casper isn't able to determine their genders.
  • Bad Liar: James, to an almost comical degree.
  • Battle Couple: Hideyoshi and Tsuru.
  • Big Applesauce: Near the entirety of the story thus far has taken place in and around Manhattan.
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  • Bland-Name Product: In the generic mecha anime category, we have "Spacefighter X" and Word of God has it that the card game James and Casper play is called "Gather: the Magicking."
  • Blatant Lies: James currently takes home the prize with "I'm not flying. I'm practicing a magic trick."
  • Body Horror: The unfortunate result of trying to fend off a cosmic horror singlehanded. Heck, at least that guy survived.
  • Break the Cutie: Touch seems to thrive off of defying this trope, both James and Casper serving as examples. Horrible things happen, but they keep not breaking.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Thus far, there have been two people who attempted to deal with extradimensional horrors in this story. One ended with them riding a nuke down its throat. The other one survived, but they're still waiting for his skin to grow back.
  • But Not Too Foreign: James and Bex; half Japanese, half Caucasian.
  • Cuddle Bug: Bex. Because she's adorable.
  • Character Development: This seems to be the main driving force of the story, with examples being too numerous to list. Virtually every character thus far shown has undergone at least some degree of ongoing character growth or progression.
  • Cooldown Hug: Frequently subverted. Turns out the best way to comfort a traumatized child is NOT to restrict his movement.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Defied. Every person who finds out about James' rape is justifiably horrified by it, and his family and friends go to lengths to ensure that he gets the treatment he needs as quickly and discretely as possible.
  • Distracted by My Own Sexy: Tasha, when she first notices her six-pack after her Training from Hell.
  • Driven to Villainy: Lewis, by his own admission.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Some of the monsters through the story fit into this category, along with some of the characters. Elves included.
  • Enhanced Punch: Tasha, for obvious super-strength related reasons. Also Hobgoblins, the elf and at least one high level mage.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Peter might be a high level mage, but he's not afraid to whip out his knuckle dusters at a moment's notice.
  • Flight: James, and he loves it.
  • Freak Out!: James, whenever he takes a moment to remember just how much insane stuff he's done in the last few months.
  • Godzilla Threshold: As of the Bex interlude, there exists at least one monster capable of forcing the entire planet to work together to defeat it.
  • Good Powers, Bad People: Father. Leader of what seems to be a very heavily brainwashed cult/crime syndicate. His power? Happiness aura.
  • Hidden Depths: Most of the characters, to some degree, but most notably Tasha. One minute, she's punching people for being stupid, the next she's having a heartwarming conversation with a kid about how he shouldn't let other people define him.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: James, after every instance thus far of him discovering a new aspect of his powers.
  • Mage in Manhattan: This one's kind of unavoidable, given that it's a story about mages... in Manhattan.
  • The Masquerade: Not yet explained, but it has been made clear via inference that the existence of powers is being kept secret by someone.
  • Nuke 'em: The primary method of attack attempted against the above mentioned Godzilla beast. It doesn't work.
  • Omniglot: Peter. Intuitive linguistics is his baseline power.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Apparently, the goblins in this universe are very helpful, and are considered the human race's closest allies.
  • Parents as People: James' parents, Peter and Sarah are alternately shown both supporting their son through the trauma of his recent experiences, and quietly falling to pieces over it whenever they know he isn't looking.
  • Playing with Fire: Hideyoshi. A lot.
  • Please Get Off Me: James' standard response to unsolicited hugs.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Lewis has shown himself multiple times to be this, what with his efficient and inhumane acts of villainy, and his pleasant home life with a pair of teenage kids.
  • Rape as Backstory: James in a rare male example of the trope. Justified in that the story is largely about different ways of learning to deal with trauma. The experience eventually led to his Traumatic Superpower Awakening, and essentially functions as the opening line of the story.
  • Relax-o-Vision: Used by Father to a genuinely nauseating effect.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Sometimes present, sometimes not. Tasha has them, to help her deal with the bodily strain of her super-strength. Casper, on the other hand, does not.
  • Summon Magic: Thus far, we have Tuva, whose power revolves around summoning shadowey figures composed of solidified nightmares, and the elf, who summons her hunter swarm to great effect.
  • The Empath: Casper, the story's Deuteragonist, is a powerful one. He is not happy about it.
  • The Force Is Strong with This One: The birds of arc three are specifically bred to sense power levels in nearby living beings.
  • There Are No Therapists: Hard averted. The story literally opens on James going to a therapy session, and his therapist is a recurring character throughout the series.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: See Rape as Backstory above.
    • Also applies to Casper and Tasha. It seems everyone who develops powers naturally has this, though Peter's conversation with his father implies it can be taught.
  • Virginity Flag: The Mark of Purity appears on someone's face once they've had sex. There are skin patches and permanent surgeries to hide it, however.
  • The Worf Barrage: Tasha subverts this hard. After an entire fight spent being no-selled because she can't punch hard enough to hurt the guy, she decides she needs to Just. Punch. Harder.