Genre: Romance/Drama
Length: 12 Volumes
Allegiance: Shogakukan
Mangaka: Adachi Mitsuru
Vintage: 1987-1989
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Yamato Keisuke is a freshman at Eisen Private High School, but he’s already made quite a name for himself as an outstanding swimmer. However, he’s hardly alone at Eisen when it comes to young athletic prodigies. There’s Seki Kazuaki, ranked 3rd Dan in karate; Ogata Takeshi, a baseball player with a legitimate shot for the big leagues; and Ninomiya Ami, a promising young diver. Keisuke and Ami are immediately at odds with each other, as their families hold a grudge that goes back two generations. However, fate seems to be intent on forcing these two together. Will Eisen be the scene of a violent crime, or will everything actually work out, and then some?

Research Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen 
Plot
Characters
Impact
Visual
8.25
9.00
8.75
8.75
Overall 8.75
(not an average)
Rough can perhaps be regarded as a “rest work” for Adachi Mitsuru. After all, it is placed chronologically between two very long baseball centered manga centered on baseball: Touch and H2Rough definitely differs from the usual Adachi formula in terms of focus, character personalities, and relationships, and is a bit more serious than what readers of Adachi are perhaps used to. However, that doesn’t diminish its quality one bit. 

The plot is a departure from the usual stories about Koushien and all that, and for the first time, Adachi has actually included a very well developed supporting cast. The relationship web is much more tangled than in Nine or Touch, and the Romeo and Juliet angle gives the story a pseudo antagonist. Mind you, Adachi hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to developing main characters either. Subtle and deliberate, the plot slowly guides the characters towards their true selves during the most important years of their lives. By the end, there’s really not a single character that hasn’t learned something important from high school.

Interestingly, there is something about Rough that is more serious than Touch or Nine. For example, in contrast to how Tatsuya from Touch always avoided combat in a comedic fashion, the characters inRough fight – and fight a lot. Most of the time there is some comedic value, but the characters get caught up in serious gang activity or attempted sabotage quite a bit. Hardly enough to make Rough an action manga or dark in any way, but enough to be different from the tone and mood of previous Adachi works. 

Visually, it’s standard Adachi, although the character designs are a little more varied. Rough’s characters don’t quite follow the templates created by Nine and Touch, and each character is easily distinguishable. Other than that, there’s not much to say about the mangaka’s standard, but excellent use of non-dialogue frames, attention to detail, and clean art. 

Rough may be a detachment from Adachi’s usual style, but it contains all the elements of a classic Adachi story: strong plot, vibrant personalities, powerful development, and spades of realism. If you’ve read his other works, by all means, read this one as well. Just watch for the ending, the timing is a real doozy (in the best way possible).