Shifting away from Aoba for a bit, Ko and Azuma take up this episode as we see some manly baseball being played.
What They Say
Ko and his teammates watch one of the nation's best teams scrimmage. They are all captivated by one player on the team, Keitaro Mishima, whom Azuma remembers from Senior League.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While we're in the midst of a batch of episodes that seems more intent on just fleshing things out a bit rather than making any progress. Cross Game allows us to get to know the characters in a bit more of a leisurely fashion without a lot of stress. Aoba's small arc prior to this was pretty enjoyable overall as we got to see her playing a hard game and doing really well, reinforcing just how skilled she is and the amount of potential she has, as well as how shackled she is by her gender. This episode takes us to Azuma's story a bit as Ko and the others check out a scrimmage and he sees someone he played against once in a different league.
The focus on this player, Keitaro, reveals some interesting background on him with an injury that took him out for awhile. Not much has been known about him since but he's definitely back in the game and has a good starting record, enough so that when combined with what Azuma knows of him from the past, and the way he's almost obsessive about it in an Azuma sort of way, shows that he's definitely someone to take note of. When Ko gets back the research on him and both he and Azuma hear about it along with Aoba, it paints a picture of a player that they need to take some careful consideration of. It's setting up a rivalry pretty nicely here and gives both Ko and Azuma something to think about as they get ready to get back into the game themselves and see what they're going to face.
The amount of baseball played in this episode is relatively short, but Ko and the gang have a good game against another school who has quite a massive cheering session behind them and some very popular players that the girls are all a flutter over. While a lot of the game is done through highlights, it's given a nice feeling to it overall and we get to see some of the players like Senda shine for a bit. With some of these guys being absent recently in favor of side stories involving character drama, it's good to see them up at bat, taking bases and having a game where the thrill of playing is evident. You want more, and you want games with some serious meaning to them, but that's not what this stage of the series is about.
Cross Game continues to be fun, even in this slight segment, mainly because of the appeal of the characters. It's fun to see them get into a game again and to see their coach being so observant when he came across as kind of a slightly disconnected coach at the start because of his being pushed out of the main position. The Seishu team is getting on track now however and seeing things starting to come together with this team, under this coach, with the motivations and plans they have is fun to watch. There are good players here, some exceptional players as well, but they're not the team that will steamroll over everyone nor are they destined for greatness right from the start. They have the potential and because of the nature of the show, but they're not guaranteed to make the grade which is good.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.