With the Seishu team being scouted by the opposition even more now, their games start to change.
What They Say
Seishu Gakuen advances to the second round of the summer tournament. But their opponent collects a lot of information on Seishu and goes after their weak points. Will Ko's pitching be enough to win?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A new rivalry starts to enter the picture as we're introduced to the character who has something of a history with Azuma. Though it's impact will come later, it's good to see some seeding of old rivalries coming forward in the world of competitive sports since there's plenty of that in high school. At this stage of the game, much of Cross Game is about the smaller moments of moving forward though as we see the characters just going through their daily lives. Aoba's still conflicted about what she wants out of life and is doing her best with her homework with a bit of help from her cousin while Ko and Azuma are just focusing on their training for the next game against Sannou High. Ko's trying to get more of a feel for other teams they'll face, but it's amusing to see Azuma telling him to knock it off and leave that kind of thing to Akashi.
Cross Game does thankfully spend some time in the game itself so we get to see Ko getting his pitching going and the way the team is coming together. What's different this time around is that the Seishu team is starting to get a bit more known after what's happened so far so they're being scouted out. The reports are getting back to the teams that are playing things smart so they know who their competition is and Seishu is facing a bit more of a challenge this time. Even worse is that Ko is coming across as rather off in his game, unable to make catches and not up to his usual potential. When Ko's on his game, he's at his best, but when he's off and questioning everything, including what Nakashi is telling him, he's unfocused and almost wild with his play
The psychological aspect of the game can be fun when applied well, as we've seen from some other series like Big Windup, but in this episode it comes across as a bit forced. Ko's reasons for being so off aren't quite so square as to be believed but just having an off day and trying to recover from it, along with the rest of the team, is done decently. Unlike previous episodes though, something about this one just feels very forced in its nature, especially with the way the music is applied to it to give it extra tension. It's almost dominating the show more than normal as it lightly drowns out the dialogue in a few places, making it seem much bigger than it is in terms of the show itself.
The big idea of the episode is one that is certainly interesting, one that I've purposely avoided talking about here because it's done intentionally, leaves me feeling a bit cold. The plan utilized for this particular game comes across as a really bad idea across the board, from the coach to the players, to be utilized in this kind of setting and situation. There are things to like in this episode, mostly focusing on the inter-character drama and some of the things that are being seeded for future games, but the elements of the game at hand left me feeling put off by it as it doesn't seem like good sportsmanship to me. And the sports side of Cross Game is a very big part and it seems wrong to let the kids play in this manner.
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.