Cross Game 4
April 12, 2012
Mitsuru Adachi – Viz – 2011 – 17 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 8-9
As I’ve said before, it’s really hard to talk about this series. It’s excellent, but a quiet kind. The writing is very solid, and both the characters and the plot are relevant and interesting. Adachi is also a master of subtlety, so he leaves a lot unsaid and communicates much through implication, which is an interesting technique indeed. He’s not afraid to pause and linger over-long on particularly relevant conversations, or even just a nice day on the baseball field. Both make this an absolute pleasure to read.
And there’s not that much to say about story progress here. It’s about the characters training to go to the high school baseball championships and struggling with their personal lives. This volume covers the first 2-3 games in the tournament, with varying degrees of emphasis on each. I do like that Adachi doesn’t do a play-by-play with nail-biting cliffhangers, as any other sports manga would. The games are very character driven in a way that I didn’t realize other sports manga were not, since they tend to be all about player ability. In Cross Game, it’s not really about winning the game. It’s about how well Ko is playing, and how well the team is working together. There’s nothing terribly exciting about it, honestly, but it’s still a blast to read. I care a lot more about Ko than I would any other protagonist in a sports manga, and I’ve read some very good ones over the years.
There’s also some details about the personal lives of the characters, but this doesn’t go anywhere major in this volume. The stage is set for future conflict, though. The Tsukishima sisters now have a houseguest, Mizuki, their cousin. Mizuki is the same age as Aoba, and he has a huge crush on her. Aoba doesn’t ever look his way, really. The bigger problem, romantically, is what appears to be a budding relationship between Ko and Aoba. The two are very much alike, and their frequent fights seem more a sign of friendship and animosity. Other characters hint more than either Ko or Aoba do, and that puts the two in the interesting position of… well, maybe they don’t really have feelings for each other. I could see Cross Game doing something like that. The bigger problem with their relationship, however, might be that both of them would see it as a betrayal to the dead Wakaba.
If you’ve been following along with the series, this is more of what you’ve come to expect. A quiet affair, but still a page-turner in its way. Again, I can see this not being to the taste of a lot of people who prefer more action-oriented series, or even those who enjoy relationship-based stories. But it’s a fantastic character-driven story, and it takes its time to make sure everything is right. I may not find myself reaching for the next volume when I finish, but I am extremely satisfied in a way that few manga are able to manage.