As many other surely do, whenever I read a manga or watch an anime I have a habit of trying to predict where the story is going and how it will end. I like to see how in tune I am with the authors train of thought. This on rare occasion can lead me to coming up with a better ending than the one I was presented with in the original story. I do not want to come off as though the ending of Cross Game was not excellent. I just feel that there were important loose ends that were never answered that the version in my head addressed.
Now that we are in spoiler country let’s examine the actual ending of Cross Game. In the first episode we are introduced to childhood friends Kou Kitamura and Wakaba Tsukishima who are practically dating in elementary school and seem destined to be with each other forever. Wakaba shares with Kou a dream she had where he is the pitcher in the final baseball game at Koshien. Their mutual acquaintance Osamu Akaishi is the catcher on Kou’s team as well. As the series goes on we learn that there is one other person involved in the dream, Wakaba’s sister Aoba is playing center field in this seemingly prophetic dream.
But before this dream can come true, Wakaba dies saving another girl from drowning at summer camp. The three that are left behind try their best to make Wakaba’s dream a reality. Over the course of the series all three of them practice constantly and work with each other despite personal conflicts because they each loved Wakaba in their own way. The series ends just after Kou’s team has beaten their rivals and earned their way into Koshien. Aoba and Kou have finally admitted their feelings to themselves and have become a tentative couple on the verge of something solid. But we never see a single game at Koshien. We never learn how much of the dream comes true.
At the end of Cross Game we get a powerful last game and a beautiful conformation of Aoba and Kou’s feelings. But for some reason, just like in Touch, Adachi refuses to show us Koshein. In both Cross Game and Touch the romantic plot turned out to be the most important element dominating final last chapters of Touch to the point were we do not see any baseball being played but we got a confirmation that Tatsuya Uesugi finally won the championship. It was only one panel but it gave us closure on both parts of the story. I am not sure why Adachi never has us see any of the Koshein matches. Does he think that the Koshein matches in our heads will always be better than the Koshein he would draw? Is there an odd cultural taboo against drawing these matches? Does he think the road to Koshein is the real journey than the game itself? Does Adachi really thinks that the baseball itself is that unimportant?
With the ending I envisioned you do not have to throw out the ending we see in the series, you just have to have add one more book to the story. My ending starts with the last game of Koshein. The center fielder cannot play for one reason or another. Since they cannot find a replacement in time they come up with a desperate plan: have Aoba dress as a boy and pretend to be a substitute player. The rest of the match plays out like the dream with everything on the line and everyone in the roles they are supposed to play. After an intense match with Aoba, Kou, Akaishi, and Azuma all contributing something vital to an amazing victory at Koshein. The game is over but for some reason or another the details of Aoba playing is revealed and they are disqualified. But it does not matter, they came together to make Wakaba’s dream come true and that is more important that any championship.
I felt really cheated at Cross Game’s end because the dream was the driving force behind the story. It would have been a grand glorious finale if Adachi had tied up all the loose ends while still showing that these charters will have lives that go on. Plus I would have like the last book to have Kou and Aoba as a couple even for a short period of time. I think that this theoretical extra book I had envisioned would have taken nothing away from the ending we got and would have added so much at the same time. Maybe Adachi will do us a favor in the future and implement something similar to this. Que Sera, Sera.