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.