Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 7 by Mitsuru Adachi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

April 10, 2012 by  

Mitsuru Adachi’s highly-praised manga “Cross Game” vol. 7 returns to the baseball action as many members of Seishu Gakuin High School compete in their final high school baseball tournament and their last shot for Koshien. “Cross Game” is in my opinion of the better manga series released in America and if you are looking for something more realistic, heartwarming and enjoyable, this manga series is highly recommended!

© 2005 Mitsuru Adachi. Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 7 (クロスゲーム)

BY: Mitsuru Adachi (あだち 充)



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2012

With his final summer in high school approaching, Ko and the rest of the team are right in the thick of the regionals to qualify for Koshien. They manage a win in their first game, but the next round pits them against Kurokoma, led by none other than Seishu’s infamous former coach, Daimon.

Seishu is cautious because they know Daimon would really hate to lose to the “Portables” twice. And as the team battles its way toward Koshien, Akane Takigawa is dealt a blow to her health and is hospitalized.

For Ko and friends, this is their senior year in high school and their final tournament.

Ko made a promise to Wakaba way back when he was a young boy, he would make it into Koshien (the finals in the baseball tournament) and for each baseball player of Seishu Gakuin Senior High School, they know they have what it takes to make it to the finals and now it’s time to prove it.

“Cross Game” graphic novel Vol. 7 features Seishu taking on various teams in order to get to the finals, but as Seishu is on the roll, how would Ko react when he finds out that Akane will need emergency surgery for her health condition.  Having lost Wakaba and Akane being the spitting image of an older Wakaba, will he still be ready to compete during the tournament?  Find out in the latest volume of “Cross game”!

What is “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 Ko 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?

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.

And now, Seishu Gakuin Senior High School must take on various teams to get to Koshien.  Vol. 7 focuses on those matchups.

With vol. 6 taking a breather from the baseball tournaments, we know that the national tournament would be coming and this time, with vol. 7 of “Cross game”,  it’s the final try for Ko Kitamura and his team to make it into Koshien.

While the majority of the pages focuses on baseball, we get to see the camaraderie of Ko and his teammates but also to see how much they have gotten better this year.  And for Ko, it’s one thing to make it a goal to get into Koshien and win the tournament but also, the goal of him throwing a 100mph fastball doesn’t seem so far off, now that he is throwing over 95mph.

But while the majority of the pages focus on baseball, there is also an emotional underlying storyline as Ko, Akaishi and others discover Akane’s health condition.

Having lost Wakaba a long time ago, we learn that Ko may have hidden his emotions from everyone but for Aoba and everyone, they know that he has hurt after all these years.  And with Akane, the girl with the spitting image of Wakaba now suffering from a medical condition that requires surgery, Ko must do all he can to keep positive and a few of his friends mind on the actual game.  But knowing deep inside, he’s hurting and knowing he doesn’t want someone he cares about to die on him.  We learn that Ko is a tough kid but people know that he tries to be strong in front of everyone and wants the team to be successful.

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.  It’s definitely one of my favorite manga series at this moment.

“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 and in my opinion, one of the best manga series being released today!

“Cross Game” vol. 7 is highly recommended!

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