Can an unlikable character become likable? Such is the challenge that Risa faces.
What They Say
Risa has stayed at Seishu Gakuen even though her father, the former interim principal, left the school. She causes some confusion when she practices for a movie audition.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the show edging closer and closer to the halfway mark, and with the team having been shaken up and the school administration as well, the changes continue for those at Seishu High School. Watching the fallout in the previous episode was interesting to see as we got to learn who went, who stayed and who has issues with all that's happened. The most curious and underplayed of all the changes was that the team �manager,� Risa, actually stayed on with the team. And the school. With her father having exited under less than glamorous terms due to what happened with the chairman, you'd expect she'd be one to high-tail it out of there to get a fresh start somewhere new.
Instead, she's stayed there and on the team, though now she's causing a mild bit of confusion at first. In a way, you almost want to see something come of what she does to Senda at the start when she confesses to him and he's unaware that it's all part of her reading a script for a movie part that's open for anyone to try in. It's all the buzz at the school as the girls are talking about it and there's a general level of excitement. When it's discovered that Risa actually made the ten finalists, it only adds to her reputation even more. Much to her chagrin though, she has to actually be able to throw a baseball for the part which means she has to do a whole lot of practice. With her being such a pampered princess for so long, it's amusing at how bad she is, to the point where many don't even think she's at a kindergarten level in being able to throw.
Some of the secondary bits in the episode are pretty good, especially as Aoba is continuing to get challenges and prodded into attending a different high school that has a full on girls baseball team. What's interesting is that there's an undercurrent from Aoba that she may not even play baseball in high school because of how the system works, where she wants to go to Seishu but she knows she won't ever be able to play, even if she is better than most of the other players. Her struggles run parallel to those of Risa, especially as Ko has finally decided to try and help her with her practice so she can make a good showing. Her desire to make this work and the way she pushes herself, something none of them have seen from her before, isn't exactly inspiring them but it makes them want to at least give her some encouragement. It's a nice bit of realistic growth on everyone's part rather than having a sudden huge cheering section come out for her.
Cross Game hits what is potentially a poor episode as it focuses on a character that has been unlikable for awhile. Offering her the chance to become more is a fairly standard plot point, but with Cross Game playing things a bit more real world it has a chance to work better. With everyone opting to not jump in and help, with no big scenes of emotional understanding or silly plot devices, it's all about hard work and self improvement. In that way, Risa wins the episode pretty well, even if she doesn't become a likable character that you want to see more of. What she is now is human with a bit more of a chance to connect with others. And her basic message is inspiring in itself, something that can have a ripple effect and that makes it all worthwhile. The things that ties us all together, the little moments that can change our course, is what we really get here and it's a very good message.
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.