Shifting ahead a few years to the end of junior high school, Cross Game shows us where Ko intends to go in life.
What They Say
Wakaba asks Aoba what kind of boys she likes, Aoba says, "One who can throw a 100 mph fastball." Wakaba says that Ko may one day be able to throw that fast. Ko and Nakanishi's team faces Aoba's pitching in a sandlot baseball game. Aoba wins, but...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the events of the first episode that definitely played things in an interesting way to give Ko motivation, the second episode shifts the storyline forward a few years as Ko and his friends are now in junior high school. The tragedy with Wakaba has certainly had a lasting effect but she's not out of the picture entirely as there are some nice flashbacks that show her family life with her sisters as well as the way she was so in love, in that child-like way, with Ko that it's incredibly endearing. And it is like that because it's not cloying, disturbing or over the top. It's an earnest childhood love, which makes it all the more tragic.
Life goes on however, and Ko is a fairly average kid at this point who hasn't been involved in much. He didn't keep up with baseball and isn't involved in any sports or clubs at this point. What he does continue to do though is ask how the baseball team is doing from Aoba, Wakaba's sister, and he spends plenty of time in their batting cages when he swings by on work related things. With the two families being close, they often spend some amount of time together but there's a bit of an adversarial relationship between the two. Aoba's just a year younger than Ko but she's been on an intense training routine for years now and it's only added to her tomboy image. Just about everything that Ko does ends up frustrating her, though they have their tender moments here and there as well.
All of this is based on events in the past as we see one of the baseball games that took place where Ko's team went up against a ragtag team that Aoba was a pitcher for. Ko's not all that into much of the game in a way, trying to sell the other kids uniforms more than anything else, but he gets really serious about it when he goes up against Aoba's really fast pitches. It's amusing to watch since Wakaba is rooting for both of them and encouraging them both, though she's careful to tell her sister to stay away from the man of her dreams. With it pretty obvious that there's something more there in the future, it's both fun and sad to watch the foundation of it all form in this way where Aoba feels that Ko is stealing Wakaba away and holds onto some of those feelings in a transference kind of way into the present since her sister is no longer there anymore.
Cross Game doesn't build the cast too much this time around, though there is the rather annoying character of Senda that introduces himself in a really awful way regularly. Some of the other team members get a mild nod here and there, but most of it is focused on the core trio at the moment with Wakaba, Aoba and Ko. And these things work really well, especially when tinged with the events that played out in the first episode that make it all the more heartrending. The show really has a wonderful feel to it as it harkens back to anime of old as the pacing and style even has me remembering some of what made Kimagure Orange Road so special to me. This show has a good road ahead of it and it's starting off in a way that's really captivated me.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.