Aoba's time playing the game is just as fun to watch as Ko and the rest.
What They Say
Aoba plays on Midori's team against a college powerhouse, but she is put in center field. The college team is strong on offense, and it looks like it could be a blowout. But then, Aoba takes the mound.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Aoba's time playing baseball is a lot of fun because she, in a way, seems to take it more seriously than Ko. At least in an outward way, since Ko does have something driving him with Wakaba within him. Aoba's time playing the game with the other girls from Satomi has her doing pretty well, but it's interesting to see how she is again others. During one batting sequence early on, she swings too soon because her expectations of what the pitcher will send her isn't anywhere as strong as she expected it to be. Knowing her own capabilities, she expects everyone else will be the same or better and has to readjust when she sees the reality of that situation.
It's when she's into the pitching position though, when the team is down a few runs, that she really shines. As serious as she's been, she now takes it up a few notches and drops some serious fastballs for a girl of her age and strength. The rest of the team has been feeling low because of the score, and they're reliant on Aoba to try and turn things around for them so they can have the comeback that they dearly want. The Ouka team players are surprised by the sudden shift in tone of the game as Aoba is able to strike everyone out pretty quickly and make some really good spot plays as well when it comes to the game overall. Aoba's long been the player to watch in the show, as much fun as Ko and the others are, since she's had a very different feel about everything from the start.
There's some decent tension in the game as you watch Aoba's team start to make up the difference and some of how the two teams approach things gets clearer. It's also fun to watch how Aoba knows how to rile up the Ouka pitcher and make her frustrated to say the least. Watching the game play out has a lot to like overall since there are a lot of characters involved, not all that you remember their names or relationships from, but seeing Aoba become the center of it with a mild bit of commentary from Ko and the others that are watching on makes it special. Allowing Aoba a chance to really shine against such a strong team and make an impression, while giving it all the air of how reality is, gives Cross Game that added touch of being true to life that makes it so engaging.
Taking some time away from the core group and games, along with the relationship drama that was creeping in more, is definitely welcome. Allowing Aoba to have an episode dedicated to a game she can play against strong opponents while being a full on participant gives her more encouragement to pursue her dream, but also to keep up her work with the Seishu team since there is a lot she can learn there, as well as a lot she can teach to the other players with her style. Aoba's love of the game is strong, but her manner of expressing it is the best since she gets so serious and brings it all back to her own team to make sure they get the benefit from it. Cross Game has another good episode here that lets one of its leads shine without being obnoxious about it.
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.