Cross Game hasn’t had a misstep yet and 17 is one of the best episodes so far. Here we return to the slice-of-life feel after the intense baseball match of the previous episode. Azuma, being the only player to remain on the team after the former coach was kicked out, has to find a place to stay. His older brother asks Kou to let him stay at his house until a permanent location can be found. Thus we have some more personal interaction between the two of them outside of a baseball scenario.
This was my favourite scene – Azuma enters Kou’s room and sees a picture on the wall of Kou and Wakaba when they were kids. He mistakes the girl for Aoba this leads to a small exchange between them about who Wakaba was, and what relationship she had to Kou. It’s a perfect example of the kind of moments that make this series so charming – touching while not being overtly sentimental in a manipulative way. At the end, Azuma says “You guys sure have it tough” before exiting, leaving Kou wondering who “you guys” is referring to. It reminded me of Harada from Touch, who has a habit of voicing ideas that are living under the surface of the main character’s own mind.
Another amusing scene resulting from their cohabitation is picture above, as they eat instant noodles. Aoba has left on a so-called “date” (another entertaining subplot in this episode). Kou acts as nonchalant as ever at this news but Azuma finds it strange that he is eating his noodles without putting in the seasoning. (Don’t worry, unlike some other shows, the joke isn’t painfully exaggerated, and Kou brushes it off with his quick wit. How often is a lead in this sort of a show given that ability?).
We also learn a bit more about Azuma and his older brother, who is shaping up to be a very likeable character and most likely a permanent member of the immediate cast. It seems like Azuma was responsible for his brother’s life-changing injury as a child, and that his own dedication is a way of atoning for that guilt. And so the character that entered as a one-note villain-type (Azuma) has come to the point where I’d assume he’s earned most of the audiences sympathy.
By the way, if anyone else is discussing or blogging the show, let me know because I would love to read other people’s thoughts on this series. As of now my only outlet is the Star Crossed Anime Blog who is regularly blogging the show, as well as the thread on Animesuki which unfortunately isn’t buzzing with popularity. Looking over the anime ratings, Cross Game seems to average in the lower end of 2-3 percent range, which is quite far from the record-setting 30+% that Adachi’s first baseball-romance-epic, Touch, enjoyed at its peak (and which has never been surpassed since) but, of course, the times and the audience have changed. The online anime community is just a microcosm of the Japanese audience, and Cross Game is neither a clear-cut children’s show nor an otaku show, which eliminates a fair portion of the anime audience in Japan. Nonetheless, it’ll go on being one of the best shows airing. And if you’re coming across this post randomly, don’t let the baseball frighten you, this is well worth your time whether you’re a sports fan or not.
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