Title: Cross Game
Author: Mitsuru Adachi
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Sunday)
Volume: Volume 8 omni-bus (includes volumes 16 and 17), final volume, $14.99
Vintage: 2009 and 2010 by Shogakukan, November 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Sports, slice-of-life
It’s time to make Wakaba’s dream come true. Way back at the beginning of the series, Wakaba Tsukishima revealed her dream that Ko would pitch and Akaishi would catch in the baseball championship at Koshien. Wakaba is gone, but her dream lives on in everyone’s hearts and minds, spurning the Seishu Gakuen team onward in their game against top ranked Ryuou Gakuin. The match between Seishu and Ryuou is the final stop on the road to Koshien, and a loss here means an end to Wakaba’s dream. It’s not going to be easy on either team, with both having stellar line ups and a strong desire to win. The book begins with the team gearing up to play, but Ko and others worried about Akane’s surgery, which is on the same day as the big game. The news is good, however, so they will be playing without regrets or distractions. And they really don’t need any distractions, because Ryuou is favored to win. As usual, Seishu shows everyone that they’re not some backwater team to be taken lightly, but that they earned this spot in the tournament and have the skills to back it up. As the game plays outs, the excitement is spaced out with memories from the past, like private moments with Aoba and Ko as they grieve Wakaba’s death. Back at home, the only person who decided not to attend the game, Aoba’s cousin, Mizuki, watches the game on TV. At first he has no interest, but as the game continues, Mizuki is on the edge of his seat waiting to see if Ko will hit 100mph with one of his pitches. A 100mph pitch means he’s Aoba’s dream guy, and Mizuki has lost any chance he had with her. The pitches come closer and closer throughout the game, but it’s never revealed if he ever hits the mark. Some of the pitches go unrecorded; a nice bit of mystery from Adachi. In the end, it’s not important. What’s important is how everyone has grown and changed throughout the series. In particular Ko and Aoba, who have both matured, even if sometimes it’s hard to tell. But this series is about baseball, and it delivers with a suspense filled volume. Tension rocks both teams early on, but eventually they learn to relax a little and just enjoy the game. Watching Azuma break his stoic nature and visibly show his excitement is a sight to see.
Adachi keeps the suspense up throughout the entire volume. It’s sure to bring readers to the edges of their seats as they wait to see if Seishu will win the game and go on to Koshien. Not once does it feel like a giveaway; like there’s some guarantee they’ll win and make Wakaba’s dream come true. Adachi makes sure you’re wondering this up until the game’s final inning, and every moment is thrilling. Of course, we don’t get to see Koshien. The series ends with the win that guarantees they’ll be there. It wasn’t about seeing Koshien, though, it was about getting there. Whether or not they win there is irrelevant. The journey made the story. The growth of all the characters against the backdrop of Wakaba’s dream. And baseball. Lots and lots of baseball. A sport I personally find ridiculously boring, and yet I was never bored by this series (and I read the entire thing). There is just so much charm in this series, through all seventeen volumes. If you weren’t reading this, now is a prime time to check it out. Viz Media has published the entire thing in eight very neat volumes. You can even buy them digitally at Vizmanga.com ($9.99 for volume one, which was a three-in-one, and $6.99 for the others, plus a free twenty-six page preview of the first volume). Cross Game is one of the easiest and most pleasant series I’ve had the pleasure of reading recently, and it’s youth friendly (probably not kid friendly, but most certainly alright for young teens) to boot. Do yourself a favor and check this one out.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.