Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 3 by Mitsuru Adachi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
August 13, 2011 by Dennis Amith
Mitsuru Adachi’s highly-praised manga “Cross Game” is back with graphic novel vol. 3 (feat. vol. 6-7 of the manga series) as Ko Kitamura and friends compete against the varsity team in order to continue the team’s survival. If they lose, their coach and their team will be shut down. Can the Portables defeat the experienced varsity team?
© 2005 Mitsuru Adachi. Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Cross Game Graphic Novel 3 (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: April 12, 2011
It’s time for Ko and the other mist Portables to either put up or shut up. If they lose against the varsity players, they’ll be kicked off the baseball team forever. But will a newbie like Ko be good enough to take on an elite squad of recruits?!
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. 3” compiles the manga volumes six and seven.
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?
In 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.
Cross Game Vol. 3
So, the game between the Portables vs. the Varsity team continues. With Coach Daimon wanting to eliminate the portable team and its coach, a wager is made. If the Varsity team wins, the portable team is shut down and the coach must quite. If the Portable Team beats the Varsity Team, Coach Daimon leaves and also the interim principal.
Meanwhile, Ko Kitamura has a new roommate. Guess who?
Another enjoyable volume of “Cross Game” featuring volumes 6 and 7, 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 nor do the Varsity Team know who they have been practicing with either.
So, volume 6 features the second and final match of the Portable Team vs. the Varsity Team, while volume 7 features the conclusion of the competition between the Portable and the Varsity team but also changes in store for Ko Kitamura as he gets a new roommate. Also, introduction to new characters who will play prominently into the storyline of “Cross Game” in upcoming volumes. From
“Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 3” is another fun and exciting volume of the series. While this time around, the storyline is concentrated on baseball, by volume 7, for those interested in non-baseball storylines will find a few fun stories such as a storyline which involves Yuhei Azuma and his brother, Shido going for an audition and learning to pitch, to Ko trying to fulfill his promise to Wakaba.
As mentioned in the last previous two volume reviews, 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.
“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, Adachi makes the story quite enjoyable for non-baseball fans as well.
I look forward to volume 4 of “Cross Game”, this manga is definitely recommended!
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