What’s the real test of a great manga? Where you can spend 1 ½ volumes on a single baseball game and not lose any of what made it special in the first place!
Writer/Artist: Mitsuru Adachi
What They Say
Wakaba's last dream before she set off on that fateful day was of Ko pitching in front of a packed house at Koshien. Ko's been training every day since, trying to emulate the best pitcher he knows: Wakaba's sister Aoba. But will Aoba's seeming hostility toward him and a new high school coach who only cares about winning prevent Ko from ful?lling the dream?
This omnibus contains volumes 4 and 5 as released in Japan.
I have made it no secret that I am absolutely in love with this manga. The first omnibus was pitch perfect in just about every aspect I can think of and the fact that it was a 3-in1 made it all that much better because I was able to spend some time with the series and get a good bit of meat out of it. Volume 2 is a 2-in1 omnibus, the way the remainder of the series will be released from here on out, and not only has the quality remained so high but the omnibus format helps here again, tremendously.
The volume starts off with a couple chapters of some last minute preparations for the scrimmage match against the varsity team. Keeping in the vein of the first volume we really get to see some good interactions between the characters, especially Ko and Aoba when Ko asks her how his pitching is. These moments just add so much to the characters that they seem so real and tangible. Everyone has their own personality and it’s never some weird forced relationship between characters.
After the preparation we jump right into the scrimmage match with varsity. This game continues on until halfway through of the second included volume. It may seem that too much time is spent on a single baseball game, especially since the general consensus among people is that baseball is boring, but each chapter is paced out perfectly with just the right flow to the game. Dialogues and monologues are everywhere and interactions between team members are more than just ‘Good Try” sentiments. When a play is being made Adachi knows when to spend time and when not to. If it isn’t important to the overall scope of the story certain events get glossed over but he remembers to let us know they still happened. When an event is pertinent to the story that is where time is spent. Adachi has a great way with building suspense. He does this be setting up the action in each panel just right, going to a monologue at the right moment, and never wasting panels on shots that can stall the suspense or action.
Another big thing about the game is the level of strategy included. Baseball has a lot of strategy behind it but people typically don’t see it that way. Here, Adachi has planned out the strategy and tells us the strategy without treating us like idiots. That is a tough thing to do, explain something to an audience without treating them as if they are stupid, but Adachi does it and does it well.
After the game is over the remainder of the volume is spent just like the first omnibus was…character growth. There are a couple of chapters that seem fluffy and just for fun but they always end in something that made me appreciate the characters even more. There are also chapters that touch on the Portable team training in the middle of nowhere and watching the varsity team win game after game in the summer tournament. All these aspects show growth and strategy, they also add an element of intrigue, for me at least. Because of how much this series continues to surprise me I see little hints here and there that get me thinking and wondering how things will continue to play out. I’m sure the end result of the series will be somewhat expected the way the story gets there is what I care about, and this volume has these elements in spades!
It is official; I am a full blown Cross Game addict! I even started watching some of the anime and while I have a preference to the manga the anime is still perfect! Why should anyone pick up the manga instead of just watching the anime? The pacing!! All the great aspects of the series translate very well in both forms but the manga has this fantastic way of pacing every single event out perfectly. Each panel is thought about in advance and the action is so moving and attention grabbing that I love the series more and more. This volume is amazing on so many levels because of what Adachi has done in the previous volume and his skills at pacing and action.
Viz’s omnibus approach is again absolutely perfect for this series. In a single volume style, the game cutting off in the middle would be extremely frustrating because you have to wait a couple months to finish it, but also because some people may think too much time is being spent on the game and lose interest. With the omnibus style we get the whole game in one whack and all thoughts of drawn out games and nothing with any real substance are immediately eliminated and leave, at least me, only wanting more!