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Cross Game Vol.4 July 24, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Uncategorized.
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Another month, another brilliant double volume of Cross Game arrives on my doorstep. And it doesn’t disappoint with a new rival for Aoba’s affections and the Seishu team finally embarking on their road to Koshien.

(SPOILERS)

I have to say, while Mizuki’s arrival has altered the dynamic a bit, he hasn’t exactly shaken things up (given them a gentle sway, more like). Given that he’s Aoba’s cousin, totally not her type (despite the odd ‘date’ and her occasionally humouring him), and is a little, well, harmless, you don’t really sense that he’s a major rival – something that really would shake things up. There may well be one down the line though, and Mizuki’s certainly got Ko riled up, whether he wants to admit it or not. And whether it’s Mizuki’s influence or not, Aoba seems to be warming to Ko a bit more too.

On the sports side of things, Seishu get their first three games in the High School National Championships. It’s a knockout and they take the first two games pretty easily – the first one a little too easily for my liking. The end of ‘Vol. 8’ (i.e. mid-way through this book) sees them building up to that first game, but the team is dismissed as a school of more girls than boys, and they’re easily despatched before we’ve even hit 5 pages of the next book. I do think more could have been made of this — something about underestimating your opponents?

The Seishu boys do get more of a game in the second round (which they end up turning around through ignorance – ignorance of their own weaknesses). And as the book winds up, we’re left in the first few innings of their major test – against opponents with a genuine star in their ranks, and one built up as a rival for Azuma. I do like it when Adachi takes time to build up an opponent – it adds to the sense of anticipation and, as with Azuma before, the attention Adachi gives to the new guy – Mishima – seems to anticipate a major influence in the series.

Elsewhere, Ichiyo admits her feelings and – sniff – Wakaba makes a reappearance in a couple of heartwarming flashbacks. I’m also enjoying the Ko-Azuma dynamic – nothing like strong bromance to get a sports manga going.

As usual, I couldn’t put the book down. It’s Adachi’s usual mix of brilliant storytelling, coming-of-age sweetness and dramatic baseball strategy. I’m genuinely chuffed to see Ko’s rise from baseball apathetic to star pitcher, which is saying a lot for a fictional character in a sport I don’t really understand. Still, man, I want to be Kitamura Ko.

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