What They Say
It’s time for Ko and the other mist Portables to either put up or shut up. If they lose against the varsity players, they’ll be kicked off the baseball team forever. But will a newbie like Ko be good enough to take on an elite squad of recruits?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Seishu continues working their way through the summer tournament and the Portables finish up their secret training. This is how simple and basic the latest volume of Cross Game begins. But we know better than to assume that is all there is to it. I’d say about 70% of this volume deals strictly with the characters and their relationships to each other and only about 30% on the actual game of baseball. This is a very refreshing step back because the last volume was all baseball. While I loved the last volume to death, it was the best game of baseball I’ve ever read, I missed the extreme focus on the characters and their casual lives from volume one.
Don’t be mistaken, this is still a baseball manga and there is a game found within these pages. The feud between the varsity and portable teams hits a new point as another scrimmage match is played with both the coach’s and the team’s livelihoods on the line. This is another great game that shows just how involving Adachi can make a simple game of baseball become. However, the game is very short. As opposed to the meticulous pacing and plotting of the last game, this game is relatively glossed over with a few pages spent on giving us a feel of where the players are and the sense of drama since the stakes are pretty high. I found this very surprising considering just how important this game was in the scope of the story, almost anti-climactic but still enjoyable in its own right.
All the others chapters feature stories about our cast at different points of the year. There is a pool chapter (hey, at least it’s not a beach episode right?), a start of Autumn chapter, a New Year’s chapter, and a couple of Winter chapters. The volume also starts really introducing Azuma as a main character. Instead of the threat he was shown as before, he is given a little depth and background, including the introduction of his former baseball star brother Junpei. Honestly, I really like Azuma, he adds an interesting dynamic to Ko that is possibly a little harsher then with Aoba and can really push the series forward. Also, just how the “big game” was relatively glossed over, so is the time frame of the series. Without any real numbers to work off of I would say about seven months pass over the course of this volume. It’s great that Adachi doesn’t waste precious time on slowly moving through the calendar; but I almost felt as if I was missing out on these characters’ lives with how quickly time moved.
Overall I really love these chapters. Most of them seem filler-ish and really don’t appear to contribute to the plot other than just getting us to know the characters better and providing some pretty decent laughs along the way. The end of the volume probably has the most emotional punch though. As the stories progress we are given heaping doses of what I will call the Wakaba effect. We know that Wakaba’s death was instrumental in how the main characters have grown up but it really hits home in the later chapters and we get to see more of these effects. We see more of how Wakaba’s death continues to affect everyone’s decisions and thoughts. Plus, with the introduction of a new character related to the Tsukishima family, things will continue to be very heartfelt and interesting as the story moves along.
OK, first off; what is with all the sudden Aoba fanservice?? I don’t recall there being any blatant fanservice in the previous volumes but here we get random close ups of Aoba’s panties when she throws a pitch and her butt whenever she is bending over! This doesn’t happen so frequently that it ruins anything but it really caught me off guard. Anyway, here we have another volume of Cross Game, another amazing manga. This series really is that good. While something about this volume didn’t get me super excited and overflowing with emotion like the previous two, it is by no means a failure. I just can’t believe we’re almost at the halfway point of the series! I kinda don’t want it to end soon but I don’t want the release to drag out forever either. Oh well, guess I’ll just re-read the first three volumes while I await volume 4!
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: April 12th, 2011