H2 by author/artist Mitsuru Adachi is a baseball/romantic comic that originally ran in Weekly Shonen Sunday from 1992-1999. Less of a Coming-of-Age Story then other of Adachi's works, it still none the less tracks the progress of the protagonist Hiro Kunimi through his high school baseball career.
Along with his battery partner Atsushi Noda, Hiro is a once-in-a-decade pitcher with just one small problem: The doctor has told him if he keeps pitching his elbow will shatter in three months, and Noda has a back that won't allow him to play catcher anymore. The pair decide to go to a school, Senkawa High School,with no baseball team, and take up new sports. Meanwhile Hiro's best friend Hideo Tachibana, is quickly making his name in baseball as star hitter while attending Meiwa Daiichi High School, along with his girlfriend Hikari Amamiya, who Hiro indroduced to Hideo.
Things start to change when Hiro discovers that Senkawa has a baseball club, managed by avid baseball fan Haruka Koga. Hiro and Noda's love of baseball is reignited at a 'friendly' game of baseball between the soccer team and the baseball club, but with his elbow and Noda's bad back, can they even continue, especially when the school principle HATES high school baseball?
Like most of Adachi's work, the comic swings back and forth between serious baseball drama and light-hearted comedy (with plenty of Adachi's Fanservice). With a total of 34 volumes (338 chapters), H2 is yet another of Adachi's well loved baseball comics, and his longest running manga to date. It was adapted into a Anime series of 41 episodes in 1995-1996, and a live action tv drama of 11 episodes in 2005.
This manga provides examples of:
- The Ace: Hiro and Hideo.
- Beach Episode: Though not typical because it rains, but this does not stop Adachi from throwing in plenty of swimsuits Fanservice.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Hiro and Hikari, part of the main plot as she is dating his best friend.
- Berserk Button: Senkawa's principal hates baseball. This is due to how in his youth his own high school team somehow making it to a regional tournament... then being completely destroyed in a humiliating CurbStompBattle.
- The Bet: Several.
- The bet by the principal for the club to beat the second place team of the Tokyo regional tournament.
- Shima and Sagawa's bet over who's a faster base runner.
- Bland-Name Product: The Doors.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: It wouldn't be an Adachi work if the characters did not seem to be aware they were in manga. Includes interaction with panels (and discussion of time referencing panels), self-insertion, and lamp shading oddities. Along with numerous advertisements for Adachi's own work including earlier volumes of H2.
- At one point, the characters even end up visiting a Mitsuru Adachi exhibit!
- Butt-Monkey: Kine, the cocky 'genius' soccer and baseball player. He is highly skilled and a valuable team member at center field and lead off batter, but is often the butt of jokes.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Hideo and Hikari, along side the Belligerent Sexual Tension of Hiro and Hikari. See Love Dodecahedron.
- Deadpan Snarker: Hiro mostly ,but this is Adachi's go to for his heroes.
- Dude Magnet: Haruka is really popular with the fellas, as seen in Kino, Miko and unfortunately Miyoshi, head over heels with her. Even Yanagi was implied to have feelings for her.
- Fanservice: Yes, as an Adachi work this is full of girls in swimsuits (for no real reason), upskirt shots, and even a bit of full nudity from the back.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kine constantly taunts the failing baseball club while he's on the soccer team. Eventually however, he ends up being an important teammate that cares for the team's dreams of Koshien.
- Love Dodecahedron: Hideo and Hikari are dating, who were introduced by Hiro, who matured two years late, missing his chance to ask Hikari out (who would have certainly said yes). Haruka wants to be a 'pro baseball' player's wife, and certainly has found her man in Hiro, and she is pursued by Kina, Miko, Miyoshi, and possibly Yanagi. Hideo is also chased after by Miho.
- Nerves of Steel: Like many of Adachi's heroes Hiro and Hideo both are very stoic in the face of challenges.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Both Hiro and Hikari have to use this and its male equivalent when describing each other on several occasions.
- Tempting Fate: The soccer team against the baseball club, and Meiwa against the club using its second string.
- Wham Episode: Hikari's mother dying.
- Worthy Opponent: During Meiwa's match against Senkawa's informal baseball club (if Senkawa wins, the baseball-hating principal would allow them to become a formal club), Hikari and Haruka call out to Hiro. Hearing Hikari call him "Hiro" and Haruka call him "Kunimi-kun" causes Meiwa's coach (and his players) to put two-and-two together. The coach immediately calls a time-out, and switches the second string with the first string players (including Hideo).
- Atsushi observes that Meiwa must rate Hiro very highly if they're willing to go all out against a mere informal baseball team, to which Hiro wryly admits he was kind of hoping they'd have a bigger lead before Meiwa realised who he was.
- Meanwhile, Meiwa's coach admits that he had dearly hoped to recruit both Hideo and Hiro, believing that would've made their team unstoppable. Hideo agrees... but also admits he's happy they're on opposite sides because he'd never really had a chance to go all out against Hiro. The coach completely understands how Hideo feels.