Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Mitsuru Adachi
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Sunday)
MSRP: $14.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
The portables make their debut and it’s nothing short of impressive.
As a baseball enthusiast and a devoted manga lover, Cross Game comes as the best of both worlds and now a fan favorite. While the first thick omnibus edition of Cross Game was the perfect setup for this sports manga series, it’s Volume 2 that finally takes us to an actual game between a team that is already made up of powerhouse players against a team setting out to prove they have enough skill to make their debut one to remember.
A lot has happened to the boy named Ko Kitamura who lost his childhood friend and the only girl he truly loved in a tragic occurrence during a field trip. The loss of Wakaba also weighs heavily on the mind of one of her sisters, Aoba Tsukishima, who isn’t exactly one of Ko’s biggest fans. In fact, she’s annoyed by the older boy. Aoba is also one hell of a pitcher, a fact that has inspired Ko to not only become a pitcher but also fulfill her sister’s dream of seeing him play to a bug crowd at Koshien in hopes that even Aoba would approve of his skills.
As a matter of fact, this is why he shows up at the Tsukishima Batting Center to talk to Aoba only to find the girl annoyed by the fact that he takes her out to the park where lovers meet. Still, she quickly sees that he’s not there to try anything funny but rather he has asked her out to get her opinion of his pitches. Although she doesn’t give him glowing praise, she is obviously impressed and her reaction certainly meant a lot to him. He also makes a bet with her that if he holds the Varsity team to under five runs in the upcoming game she treats him to a Napolitan.
The day of the game is here and the portable team that Ko is on realizes that all the fanfare is for the Varsity team as the announcer only introduces their players but the scoreboard simply reads: Seishu and P. It is clear that Coach Daimon doesn’t think much of the portable team and even feels that it is not even worth keeping score because his team is the big leagues compared to them. After all, he is the one who scouted and picked the players that include the powerhouse, Azuma, and a solid lineup that includes Miki and Takizawa. Oh, and just for laughs, he has Senda as a pitcher.
What Coach Daimon doesn’t anticipate, however, is the fact that the portable team has spirit and the determination to make the Varsity team sweat bullets. In the course of the lengthy game, they manage to make the Varsity team work hard as Ko pitches a hell of game to the point that the Interim Principal can’t help but acknowledge that the boy is not a small fry like the Coach Daimon thinks. In fact, his pitching makes the Coach kick Senda off him team and has him report to the portable team where they make him their shortstop … surprisingly, to much success.
While it is clear that Ko has a talent for pitching, he’s not exactly perfect either but when he steps up to the mound as a batter he manages to hit a homer and surprising everyone including Aoba and a mysterious old man (who everyone just calls Grandpa) she sits next to during the game. The real challenge comes when Ko takes on Azuma who is just about the only player on the Varsity team that takes Ko seriously and possibly even respects him as a player.
Coach Daimon, on the other hand, is determined to show everyone that his team is winners and pushes his players harder as the final innings of the game prove that the portables are good but not quite there yet as rivals. The end result is not favorable to the portable team despite the fact that the loss wasn’t bad and when they return for practice it seems that Coach Daimon has shut them off from their facilities. So this leaves the portables to train elsewhere.
In the meantime, Ko’s friends spot the young boy carrying shopping bags for the Interim Principal’s stuck up daughter and rumors start flying around that Ko might actually be kissing up to get a position on the Varsity team. After all, he is the player that made an outstanding debut. Even Aoba sees that the rumors of Ko hanging out with the girl is true but the reason – she later finds out – is not what she expected.
Speaking of Aoba, she finds herself heading to where the portable team is practicing over the summer to bring Ko his things he left at home. She takes the wrong exit and ends up somewhere else but Ko finds her and she sees that the portable team really is hard at work training to be better. When she believes that Ko is messing around somewhere, she sees that he is working the hardest of the bunch. Could it be that she is slowly finding him less annoying now?
Volume 2 of Cross Game is certainly the more exciting volume in this series so far as the portable team as well as Ko shows the Varsity team what they’re made of during a brilliant debut. The story maintains its delightful sense of humor and it is obvious that Adachi Sensei has a deep-rooted love for the game of baseball as we can see from the nail-biting moments during the game. He also knows how to tell a good human drama and we cannot wait to see how he ends this story.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Set out to test their skills against Coach Daimon’s hand-picked varsity team, Ko and the rest of the portable team take the mound and show them what they can really do. More importantly, though, Aoba and everyone in the stadium can see that Ko is amazing to the point that even the other team recognizes his skill. However, at the end, the portable team finds themselves training harder to make an even bigger impression for their next game.
The art in the series is still decent enough to make the game look exciting and the backgrounds are still downright gorgeous. My complaint is still the same … certain characters look too much alike.
While the first volume in this series was a crowd-pleasing homerun, Volume 2 of Cross Game still manages to impress with some of the more exciting chapters in this omnibus release. We finally catch a glimpse of what Ko can do out on the field as a team fights to be recognized and ends up making quite a rousing impression in the end. Fans of sports manga should definitely not miss this one.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media