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Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 6 by Mitsuru Adachi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 8, 2012 by  



Mitsuru Adachi’s highly-praised manga “Cross Game” goes back to the basics in volume 6 by focusing on friendships, relationships and more story involving the supporting characters of the series.  Enjoyable, fun and entertaining, “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 6 (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 10, 2012

The arrival of a new year brings Ko’s last shot at Koshien closer at hand, but Akane Takigawa and her striking resemblance to Wakaba cause Ko’s heart to stir. Meanwhile, something happens to make Azuma and Aoba grow closer. Young feelings wax and wane in Ko’s third year of high school. To top it off, the Seishu baseball team gets a new coach?!

Kyo has turned 18-years-old and for him and his good friends of the Seishu Gakuen High School, baseball team, this is their final chance to make it to Koshien.

Meanwhile, as Ko Kitamura and his Wakaba lookalike friend Akane, the two are growing closer.  Meanwhile, Yuhei who figures if Kyo is not going for Aoba, why not he go after her?

It’s a new school year and blossoming relationships in volume 6 of “Cross Game”.

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.

In the last volume, 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?

And this leads us to vol. 6 of “Cross Game”.  As the guys know this is their final year to make it to Koshien, they try to make the best of it by training.  Meanwhile, Akane and Ko seem to be getting closer and Akaishi does all he can to make sure it happens, for in his mind, Akane is like the return of Wakaba.

But Yuhei tries to figure out Aoba’s feelings.  Does she care if Ko and Akane are getting closer?  Does Ko care about Aoba at all?  And it’s evident that as much as Ko admires Aoba for helping him at baseball, her attitude towards him has always been critical, so he puts his attention towards Akane.

And because of this, Yuhei decides to pursue Aoba.

Meanwhile, Akane wants to get a job (as her parents don’t pay her for working at the family soba shop), so she comes to work at Clover Cafe.  How will the Tsukashima family feel about someone who looks like Wakaba working at the restaurant?

And as there is a lot of discussion of who will make it to Koshien, Junpei Azuma tries to propose to Ichiyo Tsukishima once again.  But instead of saying “no”, she tells him that she will if Seishun makes it to Koshien and because of that, Junpei (a former star high school baseball player) will do all he can to ensure the team gets to Koshien.

What would you do if you met a girl who looked exactly like a girlfriend you once had in the past?    Especially if that girlfriend passed away a long time ago?

“Cross Game” gets back to the basics by focusing on the characters and inter-relationships once again with vol. 6.

With so much focus on the baseball tournament in the previous chapters and the previous two volumes, the storyline of “Cross Game” gets a bit interesting as Akane Takigawa is introduced and her uncanny resemblance of Wakaba continues to surprise everyone.

But she is kindhearted and she obviously is getting closer to Ko, thanks to Akaishi who is trying to get the two together and Aoba pushing Kyo towards Akane.  But then you have Yuhei also going after Aoba, but you can sense that he knows that the Kyo and Aoba are more in sync together than anyone thinks.

But this latest volume is about the personal relationships between the characters and focusing on friendships, dating, birthdays, etc.    Sure, there is still baseball in this latest volume but it’s more about scouting other teams.

So, I think fans of the series will enjoy this volume because it does focus on relationships and we get to see more of these other supporting characters.  But most of all, this focus on relationships.  Especially Kyo’s relationship to Aoba and Akane, Aikishi towards Akane and trying to get Kyo and her together, Yuhei’s wanting to date Aoba, Junpei and Ichiyo and more.

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 easily 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.

Vol. 6 of “Cross Game” is highly recommended!

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