Changes are afoot across the board in the lives of the kids and adults of the Cross Game world.
What They Say:
Aoba gets a call from the national women's baseball coach with an unexpected invitation. Meanwhile, Ichiyo tells Junpei her one condition, which drives Junpei to coach Seishu as hitting coach.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Some of the changes going on in Cross Game can leave you uncertain about where the future will take these characters. And that's definitely an appealing factor. As I've said previously, there are a couple of configurations that relationships can take here, including nothing coming of any of them, but having it a bit more open and realistic like this is fascinating to watch. While we see Ko and Akane getting closer, along with Azuma and Aoba, Akaishi himself is showing more and more interest in Akane, especially now that she's working at the Clover to earn some money and gain experience outside of the family shop since it doesn't pay. You can envision things shaking up fairly easily with a revelation coming to someone and interests shifting suddenly.
With Aoba, she's coping with the invitation she's gotten for the women's national team where she could be an advisor of sorts and participate in what's going on even though she's unable to actually play because of her injury. It was heartbreaking seeing her get injured and to have her dream pulled away from her, at least for awhile, but seeing this path open up before her adds a lot of potential for growth. Aoba's views on others are changing as well when she discovers something of a stalker in the area and sees how Ko deals with it, while remembering some things that Wakaba had told her several years earlier about how Ko deals with barking dogs. It's things like this that play into each other as she continues to see Ko in a different light with shades of personality that weren't always visible before.
One change to events that I really liked here involves Junpei. The relationship between him and the sisters has been fun since he fell in love with Ichiyo from the start and especially since he proposed. She's exercised her one condition this time around after the Seishu baseball coach throws out his back and she asks him to step up and coach the time for awhile with their batting practice. Junpei's a fun character and seeing him included with the team is rather fun since his personality sort of grates on the others. Everything he does is towards making Ichiyo happy and he does it all so enthusiastically that you can understand why some find him annoying yet others see it as something rather charming. His role is a bit of the comedic break of the show, which is needed since most of the kids act fairly serious most of the time since they're driven in their goals, so having him certainly helps to naturally lighten the mood.
Cross Game continues to move the pieces around in the puzzle with some things seeming like they fit, but may not really fit in the end. Watching as the show moves and tests them in different ways while trying to build the bigger picture is very engaging here because the pieces are all so much fun. Some characters are shifted out for awhile for the most part while others are given a more prominent role, but they all come together to build such an intriguing overall image that it's very engaging. Seeing the baseball side here helps to push things forward more towards Koshien, though it's just practices, as it keeps reminding us of what their larger goals are all about. The mixture of the sports and the character drama makes this a thoroughly engaging slice of life series that you really don't want to see ending.
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.