The path to Koshien continues as the teams are whittled down to just a handful left.
What They Say:
Aoba and Akaishi visit Akane in the hospital to tell her of their victory in the quarterfinals. There, they find out that she has made plans for a date with Ko.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Coming up with ways of talking about team performance without it seeming like bragging can be a challenge, but they have a nice way of doing it here as Aoba and Akaishi end up visiting Akane and she's asking how things are doing and that leads to a bit of a discussion between them about who is really doing the most for the team and just how much everyone is putting in. Akaishi gets a but flustered by it which is cute, but a lot of it comes down to the way he's so interested in Akane and gets nervous around her in his own way that makes him like that. She's such a friendly and outgoing spirit that it really strikes him in the heart. He gets so manly in a way as well as their discussion closes that I can't help but to smile over the way he acts around her.
It continues to be interesting how Ko doesn't actually go to visit Akane, though some of it can be chalked up to his focus on the game itself and their path to Koshien. There's also the past he has with hospitals and death that may be playing into it, but Aoba wouldn't let him get away with that considering what she and her sisters went through as well and she's able to visit her. Ko's in a different place though, one that Azuma points out in just a few words, where he knows where things stand and understands what it is he has to do during this time. His focus on the game isn't in order to really please anyone in particular at this point I don't think, or to fulfill any sort of childhood promise, but rather something that he himself is simply intent on doing for himself and for the team as well. Ko's come a long way since the start of the series in a lot of ways and his style of personality during the games and with practices says a lot.
A good part, but not dominating part, of the episode is given over to the game of baseball as well as Seishu goes up against the next team, Nishikura. With them being in the quarterfinals now, they're getting closer to dealing with other strong teams that are playing well, but there's always an element of luck to it all as well that keeps it from being any sort of given. There is a certain magic in watching the games play out, even in the shortened form like we get here, as the combination of the observational dialogue, the music and the action plays themselves all come together in a way that really draw you in if you let yourself be. It's really amusing watching it as some of the secrets of the game are revealed as well, when the Nishikura team starts to understand just how poorly they've been doing overall without realizing it.
If there's a show where the sound of an ambulance makes me nervous, it's Cross Game, considering the way the series opened. There's one moment with that here that's rather poignant with how Aikashi feels about Akane and the kind of worry he has for her that's absolutely touching. And Ko's reaction to it is spot on. It's the little moments like that which are wonderful here, as well as the cute moment about Ichiyo's impending marriage if they win Koshien and the like. The show balances things very well between the solid character material with Akane, a better understanding of Ko and a really good look at the game of baseball itself as Seishu works hard to achieve their goal. The blending of all the elements is spot on here and Cross Game continues to be a fascinatingly strong show that has me on edge for the final episodes stretch we're now in.
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.