Posted on 28 March 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Cross Game




It’s easy to dismiss Cross Game as a baseball series, but make no mistake. This is much more a slice of life series about characters who just happen to play a lot of baseball. Cross Game is much more a tale of growing up, with a healthy dose of humour along the way. And it does this oh so well.

Seriously, in terms of slice of life, you can hardly get any better than this. The seemingly endless amount of wit with which the writers spice up the daily lives is incredible, and they love to play with this. Whenever you see a character do something seemingly out-of-character, there’s always some sort of very logical explanation behind this.Think about a character making an important confession at first sight, only to reveal that he’s talking about something completely different. The entire series is chock-ful of these moments that have a ton of fun playing with the characters in this way.

Obviously this gives the show an awesome cast to work with. We see them grow up through the series, from when they’re still small children to their third year in high school. As a viewer we really get to know who they are, and because of that the slice of life works so well: these characters rock right from the first episode of this series, so it becomes a really enjoyable ride to just see what they’re doing in their everyday lives.

The problem with this series is, in fact, the baseball, for multiple reasons. First of all, the slice of life is just that good. Every time a baseball match started, I felt like something was missing, and just kept hoping that they would wrap up as soon as possible in order to get more of the quiet moments in this series. That, and the baseball matches aren’t that good anyway. Especially when you compare them to other series, they’re poorly built up, hand together with cliches and the teams that our lead characters match against are hardly ever fleshed out properly. There’s no tension in them, and all you’re doing is waiting for them to finish.

Cross Game is based on a manga by Mitsuru Adachi, who pretty much can only write one type of series, but he can do that incredibly well. Cross Game is the same, and although I do prefer Touch (due to its longer length and because it did have excellent baseball matches, despite its lack of wit in the slice of life department), Cross Game nevertheless is excellent and its execution is one of a kind.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Wonderfully witty in its portrayal of the characters’ daily lives. Baseball matches suck, though.
Characters: 10/10 – Take perhaps a bit long to develop, but a lot of the cast members end up well rounded at the end of the series.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Nothing special, asice from a good soundtrack perhaps.
Setting: 8/10 – Not a fan of the way it portrayed baseball, but did a good job of the high school setting.
Posted on with categories: Cross Game



Awww, what a lovable end. I was a bit afraid that 10 minutes would be too little for the big finale (yes, I do not consider that baseball match to be the finale of this series), but the creators ended up making something nice out of it. Ideally of course, this series should have screwed the Olympics and just have gone for 51 episodes, but even these 10 minutes reminded me exactly why I fell in love with this series.

It’s such a shame to see this series go, though. I mean, I could totally see a series in which we follow the lives of the characters after Koushien, which would rock even more. Still, this has really been a wonderful series.

The baseball series of the upcoming season also promises to be interesting, because it proves to be good at exactly the thing that Cross Game was worst at: the baseball matches. And on the other hand of course, there’s no way that the slice of life of Ookiku Furikabutte is going to be as good as in Cross Game. At least, the conclusion of this baseball match was a lot more enjoyable than the previous two episodes, because it turned Kou into a mere mortal again.

And yeah. Kou and Aoba holding hands together. That was totally worth the wait of these 2,5 episodes of baseball.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 21 March 2010 with categories: Cross Game



Oh god, no. It’s going to continue into the next episode (which is also going to be the final one). This is exactly what I’ve been fearing for 20 episodes now: this show just isn’t good at baseball matches. and to drag them on like this. It’s a shame that this show had to be about baseball. I can understand that without it, the characters couldn’t have developed the way they did, but this also made this kind of finale inevitable.

Overall the creators tried to put in some nice twists and all, but writing a good baseball match is all about building up tension. Over the entire series. At this point Kou and Azuma have been so god-moded that I’m not exactly rooting for them to make it. Even though Kou slipped up, the bugger actually hit a home-run later to make up for it.

In any case, at this point I consider this to still be a wonderful series, but when compared to Touch, in the end I have to say that Touch was better. While its characterization may have been not as good as Cross Game, and it may have been a tad too long for its own good, it was more balanced, and every part about it was well written, even the lesser exciting arcs. It all amounted to some great character-development and excellent baseball matches. Even the final climax was wonderful to watch, despite the seemingly cliched set-up.

I don’t think that the problem with Cross Game would have been solved if the creators spent more effort into the baseball matches. The thing is that the slice of life was just that good. I seldomly have seen it this witty and consistently enjoyable. The biggest mistake that this series made in this that could have been fixed is the way in which they treated the opposing team: the development of these people sucks when compared to the main cast. These guys needed much more attention if they wanted to make impact in this match.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 14 March 2010 with categories: Cross Game



Well, so this is the episode I’ve been fearing for twenty episodes now: the match against Ryuoh. And unfortunately, while the previous matches were surprisingly good, this one… wasn’t. During the previous matches, you could really see that Adachi did a ton of stuff to spice them up. This one however, was different.

It’s very straightforward: Kou keeps hitting everyone out, apart from that cleanup hitter. The enemy pitcher meanwhile also hits everyone out. And then, when a person has made it onto a base, the team slips up and lets a point go. Nearly every baseball series has them: the match against the supposed best of the best, in which the stakes are highest. This is where Touch did a far better job.

As for the good stuff: Akaishi. I mean, the entire series has been building up to the fact that he would redeem himself in this episode (in the same way that Kou is bound to hit 160km/h in the next one…), but nevertheless it did allow him to develop. Even though he hit a home-run before, in this episode he really was able to let his worries go when he celebrated the point. Asami back home also was great to watch.

In any case, I really hope that the next episode will close off the game quickly, so that there’s as much time as possible for the series to go back to the slice of life, and conclude itself.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 7 March 2010 with categories: Cross Game



I’m not exactly sure why last week suddenly introduced a hiatus, but it was probably the Olympics. But seriously: it was SO WORTH THE WAIT. This episode was amazing, it was just one huge chunk of atmosphere. It was exactly what this series is best at. And on top of that the character-development is finally kicking in!

Despite the wonderful characters, Cross Game up to this point always suffered from two flaws: first of all the baseball (on which I’ve commented often enough), but the characters also were pretty static for most part after the first episode. Right now however, everything is coming together and you can really see how everyone’s evolving. Senda is growing up from the idiot he used to be, Kou, although this is very subtle, is also growing up and isn’t the kid that he once was. Aoba is throwing her Tsundere-side away, the bond between every character and Akane has also changed considerably from when we first met her.

I truly believe that this final arc is all about transcending into adulthood. Not necessarily about the increased responsibilities, but rather leaving the past behind, and growing up. I fully remember that a few months ago, I commented on how I couldn’t see this show surpass itself anymore after that point.

Well. I was wrong.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 21 February 2010 with categories: Cross Game



I must say, I enjoyed this episode a lot more than I thought I would. The baseball part is still pretty shallow (Kou and the others just blew themselves through the semi-finals without a scratch), the atmosphere was excellent and the different characters were pushed even more forward.

Two annoying trends finally got broken: Akaishi and Senda’s uselessness, as both of them manage to hit a homerun. But a major part of this episode was dedicated to Akane: she’s about to have surgery. While it’s probably going to be just fine, you can see the effect this has on the rest of the characters. Especially Akaishi, as he finally managed to pull himself out of this dip he’s been having.

I was afraid that this series would lose its charms during this final arc, but the characters have gotten more enjoyable than ever right now, even without the usual snarky way of storytelling: these past episodes have gotten much more straightforward than the rest of this series, and yet this series didn’t self-destruct with this change of pace. Now that’s the sign of a good series!

It’s just a shame that the budget was lost in this episode: the match was just a bunch of still frames…
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 14 February 2010 with categories: Cross Game



Six episodes left, and Seishu’s baseball team has reached the best four, which means that only two baseball matches need to be played. Oh, let’s hope that this will mean a ton of slice of life in order to fill up most of the time, rather than dragging these final two matches on for more than an episode (although this will probably happen for at least that final match).

This episode though was wonderful. I think it was one of the only Cross Game episodes that played its drama straight, and talk about contrast! It really showed the development between Kou and Aoba, which has been subtle but present. In the past number of episodes, Aoba has finally realized completely that Kou has surpassed her. She’s gotten more and more intimidated by him, even when this episode showed that she still can exactly see where his technique needs work.

In contrast, Akaishi’s development was a lot less subtle, and I don’t even think that it classifies as development. It’s simply that Akane has gotten to the hospital, and he’s so worried about her that he starts making stupid errors. It’s more a sign that he’s crawling out of his shell: Kou and Aoba helped each other move past Wakaba’s death. Akaishi had nobody, so that’s why he wasn’t as strong as these two to let his worries affect his performance.

Aside from that, the baseball match was great because the creators actually didn’t try to shallowly create fake tension by having everything decided by the final pitch. That’s also my biggest fear for the final episode. Because seriously, I’m betting my hat that the series is going to end with that kind of plot device. Touch is the only baseball series that I’ve seen that actually did it right. Aside from that it’s all too forced even though apart from that most other baseball series tend to be excellent.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 7 February 2010 with categories: Cross Game



Yeah, this is what I meant. Last week when the creators suddenly decided to focus on the second years; they just needed more attention. The idea of this episode was nice, but at this point I just don’t care about these second years. The four of them are exact copies of each other: there’s nothing that sets them apart. And in the end, at which it turned out that they saved the match it just became a bit too obvious that the creators were trying to build up to it.

For the rest of this episode, I have no complaints, however. One thing I loved was how this episode never tried to prove something using the match against Miki. What we saw here was just a bunch of old friends who played against each other after having been apart for a few years. The part with the second years was forced, but apart from that it was just so wonderfully natural and charming. Friendly matches like this one are very rare in sports series and even when two friends are against each other, they tend to overact and make it way too dramatic than needed. Miki and Azuma were wonderful in this episode, simply because they stayed so down to earth.

Another big theme of this episode was Aoba, and the fact that she’s not using her talents. Next to Kou, it’s indeed very easy to forget that she also is an excellent pitcher, and she was pretty much the one who taught Kou everything he needed to know about being successful. As a teacher, especially so young, she should feel proud of what her student turned into. ^^;
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 31 January 2010 with categories: Cross Game



Well, the moment I’ve feared has finally arrived: the tournament has officially started. Seeing as how I didn’t really like the previous tournament, I was ready to fear the worst of this series. And yet, here this episode comes and pleasantly surprises me.

I was ready to expect another predictable match against the former coach… and then Miki comes. It’s great to see a guy like him back after what was it? 30 episodes or so? His match was predictable, but well delivered and written and he really deserved to have won. It also build up for the next episode very well, in which Kou and the others are going to have to face him and his team.

I also liked the focus on the second years, but to be honest I’m not sure about the point that the creators tried to make with them. Usually the teammates in Adachi’s series who aren’t central to the plot are just “there”, but this episode made four carbon-copies try to hit on Aoba at the same time. Try to make them a bit individual if you do want to spend time on them, please!
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 24 January 2010 with categories: Cross Game



I think this was the calm before the storm. After this episode, it’s just going to be gasshuku and tournament. I’ve said this many times before, but I think that it’s after this that this series is going to get less interesting again, simply because the baseball in this series has always been inferior to its slice of life.

In a way this episode felt different from the previous ones. It seemed much more… focused. It picked out various couples of characters, and pushed their relationships a bit further, rather than the more random pacing of the usual Cross Game episodes. We have Kou and Akaishi, Aoba and that female baseball player who made her return, et cetera. It all was about preparing for the upcoming tournament, and getting mentally ready, while the second years kept fantasizing about what would happen as soon as the third years would leave.

Overall it was a very enjoyable episode despite its slightly different style. At this point, there are nine episodes left. At this point I’m not expecting anything of this series anymore: it has already showed off its best for me. For the baseball part, I’m just looking to be entertained. I know that if I’m going to take the baseball games too seriously, I’ll just end up comparing them endlessly to Touch, whose matches granted were much more superior than what we’ve seen here. For me, this show has already been a success. And if it does manage to get the baseball matches right, then that’s just a nice extra.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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