Mitsuru Adachi once again proves he wants to be writing shonen romance manga but keeps being forced to throw in a sports angle due to his perceived image as a sport manga guy. Cross Game has an ending that while different than Touch left me with that same feeling that the baseball and the trip to Koshien Stadium to just window dressing to the relationship. I enjoyed the series overall especially since I was braced for this sort of ending after Touch. I could tell you how I would have ended Cross Game but I am saving that for next month’s Final Denouement. Overall I think the series was well done and you should not let any criticism I give discourage you from watching the show. It ends well and is a very satisfying if you realize that the romance is the real heart of the series no matter how much the baseball might seem to be the key.
Cross Game started off incredibly strong then dipped in the middle as baseball appeared less and less even going for a stretch of 10+ episodes without the sport mentioned more than in passing. But throughout it all the characters were engaging and admittedly though I complained a lot, I did not give up on the show. Kou and Aoba are an interesting pair because they don’t change so much as realize what has been there all along, and that in itself is a change, but who they are is solid and established right from the beginning. I was equally happy to learn who each of the side characters were like Azuma (who quickly became my favorite) and Akaishi who both show how strong the bonds of friendship are. And within all of this the baseball really delivers, when it is in the story, with real tension and energy. The real problem for Adachi as I see it is that he can write really gripping baseball moments even if he doesn’t want to and therefore I wanted to see more of it. And believe me the ending hits all the right spots between a great last game and the wrap up of the romances I truly felt chills and emotion. The only hiccup with the ending is one piece of unfinished business that’s outcome is never disclosed. Much to my surprise I ended up being happier with Cross Game than I thought I was going to be.
With a mixture of sadness and triumph I come to the end of the the Universal Century time line by starting to watch Mobile Suit Victory Gundam episodes 1-15. Goodness. People have always said that Victory Gundam is clearly the work of a extremely depress Tomino. They are not exaggerating by any stretch of the imagination. This show has been a meat grinder so far and I can’t see that letting up any time soon. I mean they start killing of people right away and it never lets up. Set 60 years after Char’s Counter Attack and 30 years after F91 Zeon may have become a problem of the past but the Federation must now deal with the threat of the Zanscare Empire. Uso Evin is living next door to his friend Shakti Karin. They are both illegal immigrants on Earth looking to find their parents. Soon Uso is drawn into being a pilot for the League Militaire against the Zanscare Empire. The story itself starts in medias res and takes several episodes to show you how they got to the position they did in the first episode. The Victory is yet another combining mecha which I have to assume was the in thing at the time but it is surprising to see a mass produced Gundam. As of episode 15 they are finally in space although I don’t think the journey to get out of Kasarelia was a bad as people made it seem. Also so far even better than Zeon they have shown that Zanscare Empire has some really horrible leaders with all types of people in the lower ranks. The Federation is merely selfish, apathetic, and incompetent. Well it only looks like it’s going to get worse before it ends so I will be sure not to watch any episodes while depressed.
Thanks to the IKKI website I started reading Kingyo Used Books (chs. 1-8). It is a very fun approach to healing manga in which manga itself is the healer. Whether it helps people remember their youth, give them hope for the future, or just plain make them laugh a different manga is featured in each chapter and guides these souls on their way. The workers of the Kingyo Used Books store appear in various degrees of importance depending on the story, sometimes making only a minor cameo when a customer comes looking for a manga. They all have their own quirks though and there does seem to be a little bit of continuing plot involving them which comes up now and again. The stories are fun to read, but what really makes this a standout series are the notes at the end about the manga that appear in the chapters, it’s a great learning tool! Sometimes I have heard of the series and sometimes not, but either way there is always some insight into it at the end.
I finished A Certain Scientific Railgun recently. There were a good deal of people complaining about the filler episodes in the middle but overall they were enjoyable fluff. They gave us some more insight into Mikoto Misaka and her friends. The problem comes down to the fact that I did not expect grand things out of Railgun so the plot filled episodes were a treat as opposed to being disappointed when the filler strayed form the main plot. The end ties everything together nicely bringing in all the major plot lines we had into to one final plot. Overall the story works out rather predictability but in a very fun manner. The fights at the end are nice and everyone gets a role to play. Even Saten gets a role to play which is nice to see. (Am I the only person who wants to shout all hail Satan every time I see her?) This show reminded me that since A Certain Magical Index is not being picked up any time soon I should go back and finish that.
I watched the new Bohemian Rhapsody music video by Leiji Matsumoto. The beginning was well done but then it kind of loses direction at a few early points, they just don’t seem to have much relation either storytelling wise or beat wise. However, it crescendo’s incredibly well and climatically, it seems to hit a stride. The character designs are of course old and familiar, the animation is good but there is the added bonus of CG animation thrown in, being me I would have preferred all 2-D animation but it isn’t terribly jarring. Another nice piece of work from Matsumoto.