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Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 5 by Mitsuru Adachi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 29, 2012 by  



Mitsuru Adachi’s highly-praised manga “Cross Game” heats up with the conclusion of Seishu Gakuin vs. the Ryou Gakuin baseball match.  Also, what happens when a girl named Akane who looks exactly like Wakaba shows up?  Intriguing, enjoyable and incredibly addictive, “Cross Game” is a magnificent manga series that is highly recommended!

© 2005 Mitsuru Adachi. Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Cross Game Graphic Novel 5 (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: October 11, 2011

In the summer of his second year in high school, Ko and the Seishu baseball team must take on mighty Ryuou Gakuin and their genius slugger Keitaro Mishima. With everything on the line, will destiny find Seishu moving on to the next round? Later, new neighbors are setting up shop next to Kitamura Sports, and their daughter bears a striking resemblance to Wakaba…

Who will be advancing to the national high school baseball tournament, also known as Koshien ?  Will it be the underdogs – Seishu Gakuen High School Varsity team or the heavily favored awesome Ryou Gakuin High School?  Also, what happens when Kyo and the others meet the new girl in town, and to make things even interesting, she looks almost exactly like Wakaba?   It’s another exciting tale of baseball competition and new friendships and potential relationships in “Cross Game” graphic novel vol. 5.

The manga series by Mitsuru Adachi, 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. 5” compiles the manga volumes ten and eleven.

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 story introduces us to a young Ko Kitamura, a passionate kid who loves baseball and his best friend Wakaba Tsukushima.  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 (who is the main cook of Cafe Clover), 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 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.

For Ko, he has lost his best friend and for Aoba, she has lost her sister.  And as the years have passed, these two individuals have an interesting friendship.  For one, they share the passion of baseball and she wants Ko to be better.  For Ko, he knows that Aoba is an excellent pitcher and baseball player, but because of her gender, she can never take part in an official high school game.

And as these two practice with each other, Aoba’s family and even their friends notice that these two are almost exactly alike.  While deep inside, they do care for each other, it’s because of Ko’s past with Wakaba that Aoba never tries to get closer to him.  And as for Ko, he looks at Aoba as a good friend but also a girl that constantly nags and picks on him.  But he does respect her passion for playing baseball and her dedication to be good at it, despite not having the opportunity to compete in a high school game.

As Ko has made sure to fulfill Wakaba’s birthday gift, the one thing he needs to do next is make it to the Koshien tournament and win it.

And this leads us to “Cross Game” graphic novel vol. 5 as the second half of the game between the heavily favored Ryou Gakuin High School takes on Ko’s team, the Seishu Gakuen High School Varsity team.   With the combination of Ko’s awesome pitching and his teammate Yuhei Azuma (and teammate who stays with Ko and his family and has earned the nickname “freeloader”), the team have made it into the third round.

Meanwhile, Aoba’s first cousin Mizuki has moved in with the Tsukushima’s and has professed his love for Aoba and is determined to win her heart.  But for Aoba, she really wants Ko to win the Koshien to accomplish a goal and promise he made for Wakaba, but deep inside, perhaps she has feelings for him.

As people are surprised that Seishu Gakuen High School has been doing magnificently against Ryou Gakuin High School, will Ko and his team defeat the dominant Ryou Gakuin team?

In the second half of vol. 5, a soba shop is opening next door to the Kitamura Sporting Goods store and Ko and friends are shocked to see the daughter of the family that owns the new soba shop.  Her name is Akane Takigawa and she is the spitting image of Wakaba, as if she was older.

Everyone including Akaishi wonder if they are looking at a ghost, even Aoba and her family are shocked by the resemblance of Akane to Wakaba, as if she would be the grown up version of her.  But for Yuhei, who has always saw a strong connection between Kyo and Aoba, he realizes that with Akane in the picture and the fact that she looks like Wakaba, will this mean that Ko will go for Akane?

Another fantastic volume of “Cross Game”!  Not only do we get the presence of a strong baseball storyline and mangaka Mitsuru Adachi’s dedication in capturing the strategy and excitement of the game, when it’s all done, we are then dropped with this unexpected bombshell when a girl who looks exactly like Wakaba showing up, just when you think that things may develop between both Ko and Aoba.

Needless to say, even though Akane and Wakaba are not the same type of people and are very different, there is also a few similarities and the fact that Akane has a kind heart, it will be interesting to see how things develop because Aoba now feels that with a “look-alike Wakaba” now in town, Ko will more than likely go for her.  Or will he?

So, this volume of “Cross Game” is not only a sports-themed volume, there is quite a bit of drama as well.  But it’s so enjoyable and to see how everyone reacts to the baseball game but also when it comes to Akane’s resemblance to Wakaba.  I was definitely not expecting that type of storyline and it made things much more intriguing and I can’t wait to see how things develop in the next volume of “Cross Game”.

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 and accessible for non-baseball fans as well.

If you want an innocent, fun, dramatic and highly entertaining manga series that is not dark, doesn’t deal with supernatural elements, magical powers or big robots, “Cross Game” is a wonderful manga series worth reading.  I’m loving every volume thus far and vol. 5 of “Cross Game” is highly recommended!

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