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

April 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

MANGA TITLE: Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 7 (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 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!

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

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

March 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

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!

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

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

February 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

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!

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 2 by Mitsuru Adachi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Mitsuru Adachi’s highly-praised manga has finally come out in the US.  The second volume features the first match as the Portables (the JV Team) featuring the main protagonist Ko Kitamura and friends taking on the Varsity Team.  Adachi captures the intensity and the strategy of baseball in this second volume!

© 2005 Mitsuru Adachi. Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.

 /></b></a></p>
<p style=

MANGA TITLE: Cross Game Graphic Novel 2 (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 11, 2011

Wakaba’s last dream before she set off on that fateful day was of Ko pitching in front of a packed house at Koshien. Ko’s been training every day since, trying to emulate the best pitcher he knows: Wakaba’s sister Aoba. But will Aoba’s seeming hostility toward him and a new high school coach who only cares about winning prevent Ko from ful?lling the dream?

This omnibus contains volumes 4 and 5 as released in Japan.

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. 2” compiles the manga volumes four and five.

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?

Cross Game Vol. 2

Here we are with 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.

So, the game between the Portables vs. the Varsity team begins and it will be Ko Kitamura’s first time pitching in a baseball game, especially against one of the best varsity batters in the country, Azuma.

Which team will win? And does Ko have it in him to pitch a full game and be successful at it?

Another enjoyable volume of “Cross Game” featuring volumes 4 and 5, 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.  And while Ko does a fantastic job for his first time, it’s important for his teammates to emphasize to the varsity baseball players that it is his first time and he can only get better.  But it’s that initial drive of learning how to pitch and getting better is what is most important and after this issue, there is no doubt that Ko has received respect from a his team and others, and possible even Aoba.

But there is no doubt that from this first match, the Portable team members will do what it can to prove themselves and this volume embodies the training and the competition of “Cross Game”.

As mentioned in my last review of volume 1, 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. But “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.

I look forward to the third volume and as for this second volume, it’s definitely recommended!

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Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 1 by Mitsuru Adachi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Mitsuru Adachi’s highly-praised manga has finally come out in the US.  Enjoyable, fun and touching, this first volume will make you shed a tear.   Definitely recommended!

© 2005 Mitsuru Adachi.  Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Cross Game Graphic Novel 1 (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 12, 2010

Cross Game centers around a boy named Ko, the family of four sisters who live down the street and the game of baseball. This poignant coming-of-age story will change your perception of what shonen manga can be.

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. 1” compiles the first three manga volumes into one collection.

“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?

One of my favorite storylines of all time is Mitsuru Adachi’s “Touch”.  I have followed “Touch” and also followed “H2” but over the years, I have lost touch of reading or watching anything related to Adachi since the anime TV debut back in 1995.

So, it’s been nearly 15 years since I have read any manga from Adachi and when I found out that “Cross Game” was being released in the US as a graphic novel, like a fanboy, I was giddy.  Because Adachi has shown his talent of writing storylines that revolve around sports but managing to have that complex storyline that is born from tragedy and literally inspires a romantic theme, often a romantic comedy.

There is no doubt that Adachi learned that people loved the tragedy that came from “Touch” and he does return to it in “Cross Game” and both are equally painful when it showcases the story of how one’s pursuit of baseball was born from tragedy.

While the protagonist of “Cross Game”, Ko Kitamura, is nothing like Tatsuya Uesugi of “Touch” and the storyline begins with Ko and Wakaba in the fifth grade, one can easily sympathize with the characters because they are young and innocent but at the same time, knowing that they are literally best friends who are together by fate.  In fact, throughout the beginning of “Cross Game”, you never expect anything will come between Ko and Wakaba but like “Touch”, tragedy hits home and that innocence that the manga series has built up for several chapters is literally broken.

But born from tragedy is hope and this begins the second arc of the storyline which features everyone 4-5 years later after Wakaba’s death and focuses on Ko returning to baseball but also the continued disdain that Aoba has towards Ko.  And it’s quite interesting because Ko and Aoba are very alike in terms of interest, constantly training but the main difference is that Ko is not as driven as Aoba, but he wants to be.  Aoba loves baseball, Ko wants to try to love baseball and that training regiment was born because of Aoba.  She inspired him and no matter how badly she treats him, he still approaches her happy, knowing that she doesn’t feel the same about him.

But the graphic novel is quite interesting as it begins to focus on Ko and friends trying to become better baseball players in high school and when it comes to storylines that revolve around sports, one must understand that in Japan, baseball is enormously popular and because American readers, especially the otaku are not as friendly towards athletic-based manga or anime series, this storyline’s focus towards baseball may put off some readers.

Yes, the storyline with Ko and Wakaba being best friends and having this innocent, puppy love is intriguing but after that storyline and arc is established, it all comes down to how one loves or enjoys baseball.

As for those who have watched the anime series on hulu.com, it’s important to note that the storyline of Ko and Wakaba is longer and there is considerable storyline between the two that are not i the anime series but the main elements of the manga series especially those chapters are featured in the anime series.  Both manga and anime series (covering the storyline of the first volume) are well-done but for those who watched the anime first, the manga series will provide a little bit more on the baseball side of things, especially on Aoba’s worth ethic, Wakaba and Aoba as sisters and most importantly, the bond that Ko and Wakaba have together.

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.  But “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.  It’s an awesome manga series and the first volume is magnificent.

I look forward to the second volume and for those who are curious about the first, it’s definitely recommended!

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