Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 2 by Mitsuru Adachi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
February 12, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Mitsuru Adachi’s highly-praised manga has finally come out in the US. The second volume features the first match as the Portables (the JV Team) featuring the main protagonist Ko Kitamura and friends taking on the Varsity Team. Adachi captures the intensity and the strategy of baseball in this second volume!
© 2005 Mitsuru Adachi. Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Cross Game Graphic Novel 2 (クロスゲーム)
BY: Mitsuru Adachi (あだち 充)
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shonen Sunday
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media
RATED: T for Older Teen
RELEASE DATE: January 11, 2011
Wakaba’s last dream before she set off on that fateful day was of Ko pitching in front of a packed house at Koshien. Ko’s been training every day since, trying to emulate the best pitcher he knows: Wakaba’s sister Aoba. But will Aoba’s seeming hostility toward him and a new high school coach who only cares about winning prevent Ko from ful?lling the dream?
This omnibus contains volumes 4 and 5 as released in Japan.
Mitsuru Adachi is one of the most highly respected mangaka in Japan.
He is also known for his manga that revolves around baseball and high school/grade school crushes. But Adachi’s most famous work is “Touch”, a baseball/romantic comedy and a winner of the 1983 Shogakukan Manga Award (his second consecutive award a year after his highly successful high school romantic comedy manga “Miyuki”).
The manga series for “Touch” was award-winning, the anime series is one of the highest-rated television anime series of all time and it was a story that literally made audiences cry as it featured a story of friendship, tragedy, loss, inspiration and hope.
Adachi would go on to feature other stories that revolved around other sports but one wondered if he would return to baseball (which is a very popular sport in Japan) and in 1992, Adachi would write a baseball-related manga series titled “H2″.
Over 13 years later, fans continued to clamor for another baseball-themed anime series and Adachi would return with the manga series “Cross Game”, similar to “Touch” would feature a romantic comedy that would feature friendship, tragedy, loss, inspiration and hope.
And with Adachi’s first baseball manga series “Nine” along with “Touch”, “H3″ and “Cross Game”, the goal of the baseball players and characters are to make it to “Koshien” which translates to “tournament” and in Japan there are the “National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament” held in the Spring and “National High School Baseball Championship” in the Summer.
In Japan, the final 17th volume of the manga series was released in Japan and now, “Cross Game” will be released in the US in graphic novel format (compiling several of volumes into one release). “Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 2″ compiles the manga volumes four and five.
Cross Game Summary
“Cross Game” is a manga series that showcases the development of a Ko Kitamura, the son of a family that owns Kitamura Sports, during the time he is a 5th grader, a junior high school student preparing for high school and then later on in high school.
The first half establishes the relationship between best friends Ko Kitamura and neighbor Wakaba Tsukishima. Both were born on the same day, at the same hospital and share a unique bond with each other.
For Ko, he’s not so ambitious and for now, he takes turns delivering sporting goods to the Wakaba’s father who owns Cafe Clover and the Tsukishima Batting Center. With each delivery, Mr. Tsukishima gives Ko a chance to go batting at the batting center, something he has done since a very young age.
Living with Wakaba and her father is Wakaba’s older sister Ichiyo, her very young sister Momiji and her sister Aoba (who is one year younger than her). Aoba is a tomboy who loves baseball, she has been practicing her pitching as a young girl and actually is quite talented as a pitcher. She also has a disdain towards Ko because he doesn’t respect the game as much as she does.
One day, after taking Wakaba to swimming school, he knows that the #1 bully in school, Akaishi doesn’t like him (Akaishi has a crush on Wakaba). So, as Ko was trying to get back home, Akaishi and his friends were trying to block the path, so thinking quickly, Ko takes a shortcut through the baseball field and pretends he is coming to join.
Of course, Ko talks like he knows the game but in truth, he can’t catch, nor does he know baseball. What he does know is how to bat and it’s something he has done since he started hitting the ball at the Tsukishima batting center.
And despite his bad playing, the bully Akaishi and his friends join the other team and shows off his stellar pitching skills (Akaishi was a great player in Little League but was kicked out for punching another pitcher) and is able to strike everyone from Ko’s team off. When Ko comes up to bat, one of the bullies (who is playing catcher) asks Ko a question to find out more of his relationship with Wakaba, Ko dismisses them as just neighbors, but when Wakaba comes, she talks really loudly about how she kissed him and he never picked her up which angers Akaishi.
So, when Akaishi tries to strike him out, Ko knocks the ball out of the park and gets a grand slam to win the game.
The team’s leader Daiki Nakanishi is convinced that with practice and if Ko learned the fundamentals of baseball, he has the potential of becoming a great player.
While Wakaba praises and supports Ko, her younger sister Aoba can’t stand him because he’s not doing it for the love of baseball, it’s because he usually does what people tell him to do. Wakaba tells her younger sister that if Ko puts his mind into it, he could be the best pitcher in Japan and may be able to throw 100 mph one day (note: Aoba once told Wakaba that her dream guy is a guy who can pitch 100 mph) and Aoba her to not take him away from her. Which frustrates Aoba since she can’t stand him.
As Wakaba finds her love growing stronger with Ko and feels that they will grow up to love each other, one day she comes to watch Ko’s team take on another team which Aoba pitches for. As Ko watched Aoba’s dedication as a pitcher, he starts to see how much of an influence her pitching is and her dedication for baseball training and eventually inspires Ko to start training, becoming stronger and being a better player.
One day during the summer, Wakaba visits Ko and she tells him that she has created a birthday gift list, so he knows what to buy her all the way up to her 20h birthday (which she wrote down that when she turns 20-years-old, she wants an engagement ring from Ko). Also, she hopes to go to a festival with him after she arrives back from swim camp.
The night before Wakaba is to go to swim camp, she spends her time with Ko and reminds him about how she wants to go to the festival when she comes back and kisses him.
A few days later, as Ko goes to visit the Tsukishima’s restaurant and batting center, he notices that its closed. Which was unusual.
When he goes home, he turns on a baseball game and a news update comes up. He hears that an 11-year-old died at the swimming camp at Minagawa Valley and her name was Wakaba Tsukishima. She died while trying to rescue a third grader who ventured out in the deep water.
Ko doesn’t know how to react, he doesn’t know what to do…his best friend, the person who he was most close with, has died.
This sets up the second volume of the series of how Ko had stopped playing baseball but has never stopped training. Aoba has become a baseball player, including the bully Akaishi but Ko and Daiki haven’t played in awhile and consider of getting back into it.
Aoba still can’t stand Ko but she continues to observe him as he tries to join the baseball team. But everything about Ko frustrates her and when she describes him, her older sister Ichiyo is convinced that both she and Ko are more alike.
“Cross Game” vol. 1′s second half focuses on Ko, Akaishi and Nakanishi knowing that they have talent but among the older students in their school, they will need to prove themselves. Especially to a new coach who treats his players badly and is more concerned of winning for prestige.
Will Ko be able to convince everyone that he can play baseball? Will Ko be capable of successfully making Wakaba’s last dream come true?
Cross Game Vol. 2
Here we are with the second volume of “Cross Game” and you have the senior team that is trying to make it to Koshien and you have “The Portables”, the group that can be seen in America like the JV Team as opposed to the Varsity. And the The Portable Team has Kitamura, Akaishi and Nakanishi and other talents who are deserving to be in the varsity team but are not considered anything special. So, the Portable Team will be taking on the Seishu Gakuen High School Varsity team to show that they are just as good, if not better. For the Portable team, this is also there chance to get the arrogant Coach Daimon fired as they know he’s more interested in staying as coach for financial reasons and earning a reputation of a top coach rather than doing what is necessary to make it to the championships.
So, the game between the Portables vs. the Varsity team begins and it will be Ko Kitamura’s first time pitching in a baseball game, especially against one of the best varsity batters in the country, Azuma.
Which team will win? And does Ko have it in him to pitch a full game and be successful at it?
Another enjoyable volume of “Cross Game” featuring volumes 4 and 5, the issue focuses on the baseball match between the Portables and the Varsity team and for those who love baseball, you can’t help but love the strategy that goes on between both teams.
The Varsity team especially their coach are so cocky that they feel that the Portable team has no chance of even defeating them but they have never seen Ko Kitamura pitch before. And while Ko does a fantastic job for his first time, it’s important for his teammates to emphasize to the varsity baseball players that it is his first time and he can only get better. But it’s that initial drive of learning how to pitch and getting better is what is most important and after this issue, there is no doubt that Ko has received respect from a his team and others, and possible even Aoba.
But there is no doubt that from this first match, the Portable team members will do what it can to prove themselves and this volume embodies the training and the competition of “Cross Game”.
As mentioned in my last review of volume 1, Mitsuru Adachi’s art and writing is well-known and he is one of the most popular and respected mangaka in Japan. He has a unique style when it comes to his character designs and he has a good knowledge of baseball and capturing the intensity and the strategy that goes on inside the game and this second volume showcases that intensity and perseverance of the baseball players.
Overall, I am so happy that “Cross Game” has been released in the US and one can hope that with the success of the manga series, perhaps Viz Media will continue to release more of Adachi’s works outside of Japan. But “Cross Game” is an enjoyable, touching, inspirational manga series that I hope many give it a chance, even if it does touch upon sports, specifically baseball.
I look forward to the third volume and as for this second volume, it’s definitely recommended!
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