First half impressions: Cross Game

Actually a bit late now, since the anime has progressed to episode 29 and introduced the last of the main players. Lots of developments left, right and center, so I’m really looking forward to the next part…but here’s my little look at the series so far.

Whilst I’ve been spamming about Bakemonogatari and the Cross Game manga elsewhere, I’ve also been religiously following the anime adaptation of the latter. It’s very unusual for me to watch a series that’s so distinctly shonen, but Adachi-sensei is such a master of realistic and subtle high-school relationships that I was seriously considering this for anime of the year, even though it won’t be finished until Spring next year. Not so much in terms of romantic relationships (although I can see why Azuma is becoming more content – Ichiyo and Junpei’s relationship is funny and kinda sweet!), but rather for the dynamic between Koh and the people close to him – his parents, the Tsukishimas (especially Momiji) and Akaishi. The development of Azuma, tied to his brother and his interaction with the rest of the Seishu team, especially Koh, is also spot on.

Aoba blushing What I do not particularly like, however, is how the anime has handled Koh and Aoba’s relationship. Some moments add to the impact of the manga, such as when Koh chides Aoba with a long, firm look when she snaps at Momiji for her warm reception of him. No words are exchanged until Koh breaks the silence to ask for a pot to cook with, but Aoba understands that she had gone too far in what she said. However, some additions, such as Aoba asking Koh if he knew who the center fielder in Wakaba’s dream was (episode 17), feel extremely out of place. The important point there was Aoba being surprised that Koh knew about Wakaba’s last dream, and that he was working to fulfil it. Why would Aoba, who still hasn’t really accepted Koh’s relationship with her sister (this is implied a fair bit later in the manga), be more concerned about Koh knowing that she was in the dream, as opposed to learning a bit more about how much he cared for her sister?

The other bemusing change occurs two episodes later, with young Aoba carving a replacement symbol (of Koh and Wakaba’s love) for the one she scratched out. Young Aoba did not accept Koh and Wakaba as a couple, so I do not see why she would have carved the replacement, even if Wakaba had passed away. Cross Game 19 - the carvingsBoth manga and anime have her telling Momiji to let Koh go on his trip to “the hill around back” by himself, because she knows what he is looking for and how important Wakaba’s memory is to him. However, having Koh need directions has the effect, intended or not, of diluting his love for Wakaba – even if he has forgotten exactly where the tree was (understandable because he hadn’t been there for about 7 years), he could have just kept looking until he eventually found it, leaving all the subtleties of this trip intact. My interpretation of those scenes in the manga is that they contribute to Aoba’s acceptance that Koh is worthy of having Wakaba’s love, so these changes seem to be far too focussed on developing Aoba and Koh’s relationship.

Whilst I am quite a purist in some respects, I really don’t mind some of the other additions to Cross Game, such as the extra episodes devoted to women’s baseball and Aoba’s decision to stay with the team. But the scenes I’ve mentioned above add development that is rather out of place to Koh and Aoba’s relationship, indicating that Aoba started accepting Koh as someone she could respect way earlier than she actually did. Whether her actions and reactions (and Koh’s) are linked to an underlying romantic interest is yet to be confirmed – there are arguments both for and against. Thus, adding fuel to the fire by way of such additional scenes makes it seem quite forced. Even if Adachi-sensei has approved the anime changes (and he very well might have), I much prefer the subtlety of the manga.

Aesthetically, the production occassionally shows signs of lack of time or resources, especially in the faces of the characters. However, as I’ve said before, the art isn’t something I am particularly concerned about anyway. On the other hand, the seiyuu – Irino Miyu, Tomatsu Haruka, Sakurai Takahiro et al – are doing an excellent job with their characters, and new developments from here on should give them even more to work with. So, whilst I’ve removed Cross Game for “Anime of the Year” contention for some of the above reasons, I’ll definitely keep watching it.

p.s. “Anime of the Year” is giving me a headache…because at least two of the major contenders may not be finished by the end of this year, even though their tv broadcasts are over…

p.p.s. And especially after that last episode (29), I’m really hoping that people aren’t following SubSmith. They make far too many mistakes in the translation, resulting not only in the humour disappating, but also “creating” confusing misinterpretions of dialogue that is important for character or relationship development.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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