Cross Game shifts from elementary school to junior high school and then jumps forward to high school with just six episodes, making it a very nice progression.
What They Say
Ko, Akaishi and Nakanishi are starting high school, but under the new coach, only a few players make varsity. So Ko and the others join the Portables, the JV team who use a portable for a clubhouse. At the Jr. High, Aoba is the team's new captain.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The high school days are here and Ko even remembered to turn in his sign up form for the baseball team, though it's not like they expected it to be. Because of a new coach that's taken over the team after the last one let things slide so badly, everything is getting split into two with a varsity style team and another group under the header of "Portables", the junior varsity who get to use a much smaller clubhouse in order to get their game together. Ko, Nakanishi and Akaishi all end up on the JV side but they all expected it since they're freshman and do still have a lot to learn. They also view everything as a chance to shine and stand out if they do well where they're at as the shakedown continues with the varsity team.
While the high school side is moving right along, a little conflict included of course, the junior high team that Akaishi just left gets a little nod as well. It turns out that Aoba has been the one that Akaishi turned the team over to as the captain and she's feeling a bit under pressure from it but really up to the challenge. Like Ko, she's grown up a little bit in the last school year but she's still as adversarial with him as always and she even seems to hold some sort of grudge against him for going out for the baseball team and doing the junior varsity side of it. The dream that her sister had for Ko still stands out strongly in her mind and it's in conflict with her own feelings for him that she's doing her best to suppress.
Tension between the varsity and junior varsity side is pretty apparent though as the episode goes on, especially as you have someone like Senda playing up his position in a kind of overconfident way and taking advantage of the junior's in a way that's expected but surely won't earn him any friends. Ko, Nakanishi and Akaishi are all happy where they are and are toiling away with what's expected of them but there are those from the varsity side watching them as well. Enough so that Azuma decides to challenge Ko a bit as he recalls him from the batting cages at Aoba's the year before. When the varsity side gets their practice going, comments from some of the players spark an interest in the coach about our favorite trio as their skills are getting the nod and that has him keeping a more keen eye out with what's going on with the junior varsity side.
Now that the main trio is in high school and working their way up the ladder and Aoba is taking on a lead role as captain back in junior high, things are starting to fall into place more and more. I love that the show has jumped forward in time a bit. You could consider the first five episodes a lengthy flashback sequence, but it's given the show a real grounding to move forward with. The somewhat laid back nature of the characters is a little odd considering the competitive nature of the game they're playing, but it fits in with the overall approach that they're using under Akaishi's guidance and his overall personality as well. Aoba is one that I want to watch more of though, to see how they use her and her time in junior high to supplement the main storyline and her relationship with Ko.
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.