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Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 8 by Mitsuru Adachi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 16, 2012 by  



Heartwarming and enjoyable!  The conclusion of “Cross Game” is here with volume 8 of the manga series featuring the final game in the tournament as the underdogs, Seishu Gakuin takes on the powerhouse Ryou Gakuin.  Ko now tries to make good in his final promises to the late Wakaba, but also makes his decision on which person he truly loves!  A fantastic ending and a wonderful manga series overall, “Cross Game” is highly recommended!

© 2005 Mitsuru Adachi. Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 8 (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: November 13, 2012

The Seishu Gakuen baseball team is one win away from fulfilling Wakaba’s final dream of seeing Ko pitch in front of a packed crowd at Koshien. But they’ll have to beat powerhouse Ryuou Gakuin in the North Tokyo Tournament finals in order to get there. Meanwhile, Akane Takigawa’s health takes a turn for the worse, and she’s scheduled to have surgery… on the day of the big game.

It’s the final volume of “Cross Game” as Seishu Gakuin Senior High School takes on the powerhouse Ryuou Gakuin in the North Tokyo tournament in order to go to Koshien (the Japanese national baseball tournament).

Ko Kitamura made a promise to Wakaba (his childhood girlfriend who drowned when he was younger), that he would make it into Koshien (the finals in the baseball tournament) and he also made a promise that he would throw a fastball at 100mph.  And now he is close to achieving those goals in his final year of high school.

In past volumes of “Cross Game”, we have seen Ko and Wakaba’s tomboy sister Aoba have this uncanny relationship.  Despite being perfect towards each other, Aoba has also pushed him away and making people think that she has hated him.  But deep inside, she knows that she does care and possibly love him.

But because of his promise made to her sister, Wakaba, she dare not interfere with his promise made to her.  Also, complicating things between the two of them, Akane Takigawa who is the splitting image of Wakaba has moved to town and now she and Ko are dating.  But Akane starts to realize herself, that Ko has this bond with Aoba that she can’t even break.

For past volumes, we have seen Ko and friends do all they can to make it into the baseball team, to transform Seishu Gakuin into a high school baseball team shocking opponents and now beating many teams to get to the final matchup against Ryuou Gakuin.

But just as the game is to begin, Akane needs to have emergency surgery and with Akane looking like Wakaba and he does care for her, will her hospitalization affect Ko’s gameplay in the final match?

It’s Seishu Gakuin vs. Ryuou Gakuin in the finals.  One team can make it to Koshien.  Which team will it be?

Find out in final volume 8 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 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?

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.

Seishu Gakuin Senior High School had to take on various teams to get to Koshien and now they are one game away as they must go against the powerhouse, Ryuou Gakuin!

Here we are with the final volume of “Cross Game” and prior to volume 8, I have felt that this manga series was one of my favorite must-read titles since it began.

Yes, it’s a sports manga series but it’s more than that.  Whereas most sports manga focus on the characters and their team taking on other teams and the focus is primarily on training and making it to the championships, “Cross Game” is a manga series that is grounded on personal relationships and promises made.

When the series first started, Ko Kitamura was just a young boy who was dating Wakaba.  Innocent relationship about a boy who’s parents owned a sports store but loved delivering equipment to Wakaba’s family that owned a restaurant and also a batting cage.

We saw how these two were so much in love, while middle sister Aoba was a tomboy and more interested in Ko developing his pitching and baseball skills.  And we were introduced to Ko’s friends and also rivals (or bullies) as a kid.

But its the innocence of the story that was captivating.  Wakaba has made these promises that Ko had to achieve with each birthday.  From purchasing certain items to also achieving two things that would be difficult, but yet he knew he would do anything for her and that was to make it into Koshien, pitch a strike at 100mph and eventually, the two would get married when they were grown up.

Unfortunately, the relationship was ended when things were going good.  Wakaba went to camp for the summer and died while trying to rescue a girl who was drowning and this pain, would make Ko even more focused on achieving those promises that he made to Wakaba.

But in the process, there was only one person who would be there for him, to help him with his form, to criticize him on his baseball skills.  And overtime, we watched as these children would grow up to become teenagers and now playing for the high school baseball team.

Ko and Aoba would have this relationship that seemed antagonistic but as the two had respect for each other, Aoba would always try to push him off and make him feel that she looked down on him.  But the truth is that she knew about the promises he made to Wakaba.  And how driven he was to make it into Koshien and also throw a fastball at 100mph, to not interfere.

But as baseball remained the focus for Ko and friends, we also saw how things changed again, with the introduction of Akane, a teenager who looks exactly like Wakaba.  And wondered how Aoba would react when both Ko and Akane became closer to each other.

And with the supporting characters of “Cross Game” being important to the story especially when it came to the development of Ko and Aoba’s friendship but also to the baseball component to the series, you can’t help but admire the balance of friendship/relationship and baseball competition that were featured in the pages of “Cross Game”.

And so, volume 8 represents the culmination of all this storytelling and Ko now attempting to make good in his promise.  One was to make it into Koshien, the Japanese national tournament and two, to pitch a fastball at 100mph.  And also to have a resolution of who Ko will choose in his life.  Who does he really love?

And with that being said, after reading this final volume 8, what a fantastic way to end this captivating, heartwarming story!  Mitsuru Adachi has captivated the reader since volume 1 and delivers with closure and a satisfying story 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 was definitely one of my favorite manga series to read and I am a bit sad that the series is now complete.  But reading these eight volumes, “Cross Game” was fantastic!

“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.

“Cross Game” vol. 8 concludes the manga series and for those who have been tempted or even curious of reading volumes 1-8, my answer is do it! “Cross Game” vol. 8 and the entire manga series is highly recommended!

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