Things slow down a little bit here as Cross Game delves into the characters lives outside of their games and practices.
What They Say
Ko and Senda visit the junior high to watch the scrimmage game. Aoba is pitching, and she's so in control she purposely lets the batters get a few hits.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the successful game against the varsity players, nothing has really changed for the Portable's when it comes to how they're placed. Coach Daimon has essentially gone back to ignoring them and has written the whole thing off as a scrimmage with little meaning in total, so he's made no changes in the line-up as he saw nothing worth bringing up to the varsity level for him to utilize. The shortsighted nature of the coach is interesting to watch as he's not able to adjust his plans based on reality but rather sticks to his guns with his original choices come hell or high water. Determination is one thing but flexibility is a pretty important thing as well and the whole scrimmage has painted him in an even worse light now.
Cross Game thankfully takes some time away from the high school level for a bit since we had a couple of episodes dealing with the scrimmage game. What we get is Senda and Ko going to visit Aoba's junior high school, which is where Senda used to play as well, and to check out a game that's being played. It's highly adorable that several of the boys want to go out with Aoba and they try to gain her affections by promising to score a run in the game. Aoba's still not quite to the whole dating thing though, or there's something that she's subconsciously waiting on, but it's amusing to see how much attention she's getting at least from fellow players. You have to wonder whether that translates into the regular classes as well if she's popular with the boys there considering her athletic side and how that can intimidate silly boys.
Where the episode decides to turn is when it introduces Senda's cousin Midori, a high school student who is quite the batter herself and is intrigued by how good Aoba supposedly is. She's definitely related to Senda since she's just as outgoing in that kind of brash way and she sets herself up to challenge Aoba as soon as she can after doing a bit of research. Unfortunately for her, she's rebuffed easily by Aoba who definitely doesn't get into that part of sports culture with the challenges and just walks along, much to Midori's shock. As this back and forth goes on over a couple of days, the show delves into other minor character issues such as touching on Wakaba's birthday (something some seem to forget about) and some basic high school social setting pieces. It's simple but fun to watch the dynamic grow and change as more characters start interacting with each other here and there. Some of it causes a bit of a stirring of anger though which is only going to make the potential relationship between Ko and Aoba even more fiery.
The game of baseball is pretty minimal here but when it does get screen time it's all about showing off Aoba. Whether she's intentionally letting players hit so they don't feel bad or taking down a challenger, her skills a pretty strong and everyone continues to underestimate her. Outside of that, the bulk of the episode deals in simple character moments as they go through their lives, with Ko trying to impress a certain stuck up girl and Senda trying to avoid the wrath of his cousin. The focus on Aoba in general is welcome though as we see the things she's continuing to put herself through and how she deals with it while still getting angry over things Ko does, even though she still says she has little thought of him overall. Cross Game is a lot of fun here as it moves in between the big events and keeps to its human element as it's entirely charming to watch.
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.