After an episode that left a bad taste in my mouth, Cross Game moves a bit forward in getting us to the next game.
What They Say
Ryuou Gakuin's ace Matsushima starts off with a bang, pitching a 1-2-3 inning. But Ko strikes back with three strikeouts in a row. The crowd goes wild, but Aoba doesn't seem amazed...yet.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Cross Game's previous episode which featured the second half of the game against Sannou was their way of playing the team by showing them one thing with the scouts and then unleashing the full potential in the game. But not from the start, rather they waited several innings to lull them into a sense of superiority before crushing them rather soundly. This is the trouble you run into with scouting, something that schools and teams do regularly at this level, but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth with the Seishu team as I wanted to see them play straight and honest from the start and to have Sannou try and adapted earlier to it. That felt like the right thing to do in my book.
With that arc done, and the game against Ryuou High coming up soon, a lot of this episode is given over to fluff. Some of it comes down to decent little moments that involves Nakanishi and Ko talking about the upcoming game and how Ko needs to focus just on his pitching while Nakanishi does the scouting and preparation himself. There's a brief bit about one of the reasons they're doing this, touching on Wakaba a bit, but there's something more to it as well that's unsaid as of just yet. Part of it is fun to watch just to see how Senda is about the whole thing as he's just happy to be playing at all and holding a bat in his hand feels like the right thing in his life. There's a bit of other minor character fluff outside of the game arena, but it feels so inconsequential in general that it doesn't even stick with you much.
The show does seem to shift to the game against Ryuou rather quickly, especially considering the scale of it as they're playing in front of a very large stadium audience unlike previous games. It's the kind of game that starts off how I'd much rather see them at times compared to the previous episode, with Matsushima plays really well and strongly, leaving an impression. When they change sides and Ko gets up for the first time, he doesn't play around, he doesn't let them feel like they have a chance or just lets them hit for his own side to get some practice. He gets in there with the three strong Ryuou batters and takes them down one right after the other, leaving an impression on the audience that's shocking.
While the first half of the episode feels largely empty of anything interesting, the second half does give us some good baseball time. And it's not terribly uneven either as each team has their strengths but lacks a real sound strategy to win against the other. A lot of it looks to involve luck with how it's going to play out because of their respective strengths. The disappointment with this episode comes in that the game starts so suddenly after the mild build up we had and that it lacks the kind of smooth growth that we've seen with other games in the past. The game itself is good and seeing Aoba cheering on Ko really was surprising considering how strongly she was doing it. Cross Game is having a weak arc here overall, but with a good game like this I have hopes that things are getting back on track and we can get more like it and better character moments as well.
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.