Cross Game

Ah, Adachi Mitsuru, in his whole life, he has basically been creating the same stuff over, over, and over. For some reasons though, I’ve never felt boring about his repeated works.

His art style has evolved over years as well, not much but it has become smoother to look at.

Of all of his creations, I do feel that Cross Game hits the jackpot. Therefore, I am going to review it with as little spoiler as possible. Now, I will be talking about the anime version. There is a manga series as well which is the original materials but it seems both versions are 99% identical to each other.

Cross game (year 2009) is, on surface, a baseball anime. In truth though, it is a typical but well executed teenage romance anime. It is very well executed indeed. I don’t think any anime out there can beat it in terms of plot execution itself. I feel it is that good.

Sports series in general relies on fate and desperation, and Cross game is no exception to that rule. But it’s set up so well that those come neutrally.

The series begins as it tells you pre-teen moments of the main cast. Once the recalling of the past is over, you will be taken to their high school days.

The power of fate comes from Tsukishima Wakaba’s accidental death very early in the first episode. Her passing sets up everything for the story to proceed. In morning of that fateful day, Wakaba apparently told several people that she dreamed of her friends being at the Koshien stadium, not as spectators but as players.

She said Kitamura Kou would be the pitcher. Akaishi Osamu would be the catcher. Her younger sister, Aoba, would be in defense. Now, Aoba being a female wouldn’t be able to stand on the playground, but the point is there.

She wants Kou to reach Koshien who was her boyfriend at that time. She and Kou weren’t exactly in love since they were too young to know that. But they were, nevertheless, very close. If Wakaba didn’t die, I am pretty sure that those two would have ended up as a husband and a wife.

The passion for Koshien is real. I know there are a fair amount of anime as well as manga based on reaching Koshien. There are many because it is quite popular in Japan.

If you don’t believe me, just watch a youtube video below.

I feel that the reason Koshien is really popular is that it is all about passion. There is little to no money involved. It’s all about glory and dreams. Young high school kids trying to reach the promised land is what sets Koshien baseball apart from professional games.

And, you know what? Failure is not an option for them unlike professional players. They have only three years. Actually realistically, more likely two years because, unless you are really good, fresh year students don’t make it to the roster.

Two chances to reach the promised land. It is exactly why they break down when they lose. If you are knocked out, you will be barred from reaching the promised land for the rest of your life.

Because there is no Koshien for adult players. They can turn pro and partake in professional leagues, but they will always look at back their high school years trying to reach Koshien.

Now that I’ve said how important Koshien is. Let us take in a fact that Kitamura Kou and his close circle have been told to go there by someone dear to them who passed away. It was literally her will in a sense.

It is fate. The power of fate kicks in and works in mysterious ways.

As you watch the anime, you will find that everything that happens in the series is basically tied to Wakaba either directly or indirectly.

Initially, Kitamura Kou shows no strong will to even play baseball, and Wakaba’s younger sister, Aoba, is pissed at him for that because she knows that Wakaba told him to reach Koshien.

Eventually though, Kitamura Kou teams up with Akaishi Osamu as a pitcher and a catcher respectably. just as Wakaba dreamed, and they begin to head toward the promised land, Koshien.

It is much later that Aoba finds out that Kou is serious about reaching Koshien at which point her internal feelings toward him begin to magnify.

Of course, Adachi Mitsuru’s works are never about just the main cast. Kitamura Kou’s parents as well as Tsukishima’s family which includes three daughters and their parents will all have their own mini arcs.

Finally, in my opinion, if you watch this anime without giving too much thoughts, Cross Game is just a pleasant, easy-going, soap opera to digest.

However, if you know what is really going on behind the scenes and know the importance of Koshien, you will look at this anime quite differently. While there is no explicitly sorrow scenes bar Wakaba’s passing, there are quite a bit of indirectly sorrow scenes which you can only realize once you know what is going on.

Which means this anime should be watched at least twice, probably more. There are a lot of subtle messages in a lot of scenes.

So, my verdict on it?

100%, yes. Watch it. This is an old-fashion anime where there are no boob physics, no micro skirts, no overly cute characters as well as loli. The art is no longer average by today’s standards also, but I feel it is adequate enough to get the job done.

But all of those do not matter because Cross Game is just a good drama. Watch it and be prepared to get full body goosebumps in the last episode. And remember that it all began because Wakaba had a simple dream.

My advice on this anime. Watch it once and re-watch it. You may cry your eyes out in the first episode during the second time watching it. The anime feels entirely different watching it the second time. This is a masterpiece and one hell of plot execution.

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