Mitsuru Adachi is a mangaka, or manga writer, famous for two things: romantic sports comedies and ambiguity leading to incredibly annoying open endings.
However, “Cross Game,” is one of Adachi’s few works with a more straightforward ending.
First published in Weekly Shōnen Sunday’s May 2005 issue, “Cross Game” is about the sudden and unexpected death of 5th grader Tsukishima Wakaba and how both her younger sister, Tsukishima Aoba, and childhood friend, Kitamura Ko, attempt to accomplish Wakaba’s final dream.
However, this proves not to be an easy feat, as her dream was for both Aoba and Ko to play at Koshien, a stadium exclusively for Japan’s national high school baseball championship.
A bittersweet, coming-of-age story regarding a sentimental dream may scream cliché, but Adachi does not create cliché works. His refreshing characters, heartwarming plots and serenading soundtracks make any of his series difficult to get sick of, no matter how many times you watch it.
I have rated this anime according to the following:
Animation: How well it is drawn and flows, the presence of choppiness, depth and dimension, etc.
Storyline & Plot: Whether or not its compelling, unique and so forth
Characters: Personalities, originality
Sound: Music, voice actors/actresses will be mentioned if they are particularly notable, etc.
Overall Experience: The total average
It is a 2009 anime, yet it still possesses Adachi’s classic, old-school illustration. There was no presence of anything contemporary yet.
Originally, I was more used to “modern” Japanese animation (an example) which would often demonstrate a more intricate drawing style. As a result, Adachi’s drawings appeared plain in comparison.
However, the fact that Adachi has a signature style is what distinguishes him from other mangaka. Nowadays, manga tend to go for the same style rather than compose their own unique rendition. Those who manage to do so and also have an interesting plot are the ones who make their names memorable.
Storyline & Plot: ★★★★★
The story here is absolutely brilliant.
Though he has often expressed frustration with his mediocre artistic skills, Adachi makes up for it through his profound insight in even the most complex emotions.
Wakaba’s presence was that of a ghost’s– her death was not shoved in the viewer’s face. Instead, she was constantly looming in the background.
While each character went about their lives, a day never passed when a memory of her was not relived or her name remembered.
Even as the years went by, the clarity of her memory never dwindled.
Beautiful and heart warming, yet still comedic– I could not have asked for a better story.
The characters are endearing. This is a very important aspect because not all amazing anime are the most relatable (for example, Code Geass, which is about Lelouch, an exiled prince, trying to sabotage his home country).
The characters’ deep love for Wakaba is something they cherished deep in their hearts, like we do with those whom we have lost. Their individual experiences with grief were illustrated in a way that genuinely aligned with their nature– ordinary yet unique in their own spunky way. As a result, they were all very endearing, making it easy to fall in love with them.
Even the characters who were not directly affected by her (i.e., Yuuhei Azuma, a prodigious baseball player who remained at Seishu High School even after his initial team disbanded because he wanted to continuing playing with Ko) still held the same charm and were just as easy to love.
It was not rushed, and you were able to gradually learn more and more about them as time went by.
“People only truly pass away when they are forgotten.” — Kitamura Ko, “Cross Game“ ep. 50
I love the soundtrack of this anime because it suits the atmosphere very well. There are 6 songs, but I will only go over 3 since I felt they had the biggest impact.
“Summer Rain” by Kobukuro is the opening song. It had a nice melody and the lyrics certainly applied to the anime:
“Washing away from my heart, the sand of memories that have long accumulated
Here you are, showering in the rain, perhaps reminiscing those of the past days?
Falling on our umbrella, that summer rain
Each time a new love kindles, I try to shed away the past
Change into a new set, fresh mind and feelings
If only issues of the heart can be solved so easily
Just three seconds ago, I said something I should never say…”
(TRANSLATION OF SONG from: https://subsmith.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/cross-game-op-full-lyrics-translation/)
The ideas of “past memories” and “trying to live a new self” are present in this song, and connect with the idea of learning how to live again after someone’s departure.
“Koi Kogarete Mita Yume (When I fell in love, I dreamt of…)” by Ayaka is the first ending theme song for the show. It is a soothing ballad, and comes in at a whopping 6:02, yet I never seemed to notice while listening to it during the anime. It blended in smoothly with the show’s scenes perfectly.
“Why do people fall in love?
Please, someone tell me When something that bounds us
is born is what make us singing
about love to the world
Will I meet you again If I
keep on walking this way?
I need to tell you immediately
clearly and once for all
“I am sorry” and “Thank you””
(TRANSLATION OF SONG from: https://www.animelyrics.com/anime/crossgame/koikogarete.htm)
Whether it is through death or a school transfer, beginning to walk on different paths is always lonely.
We have all loved at least once in our lives, be it through family, a friend or a love interest. The sense of regret Ayaka feels when she claims she wishes to tell that someone “I am sorry” and “Thank you”— I think anyone who has lost someone has thought the same. You want to apologize since you regret some things you did when you were with them, yet you also wish to thank them deeply for being so precious to you.
It arises the question of whether or not you truly expressed how important someone was to you, which the characters in “Cross Game” often contemplate.
The third and final song from this soundtrack I will mention is “Koi Suru Otome (A Maiden in Love)” by Natsuko Kondo.
“‘I love you’, or
‘I want to be always with you’
Because I don’t need
such ordinary words
“If there were a red thread
in your little finger
would it be tied to my little finger…”
I talk to myself on the way home
in speeches from a maiden in love
blushing a little”
(**TRANSLATION OF SONG from: https://www.animelyrics.com/anime/crossgame/koisuruotome.htm)
Personally, it is one of my favorite songs because it is not only a splendid ballad, but the meaning behind the lyrics is beautiful.
This song plays during the final moments of episode 50, the finale of the series, and it blended in amazingly with the scenes. I highly suggest you give this anime a try, because although this song is also rather long (5:18), when you watch the anime, the song becomes 95 percent more sentimental and heart warming.
Overall Experience: ★★★★★★★★★☆
I am giving this anime its well deserved 9/10.
This is not just a story about loss, but also the love and hardship that follow.
It is about the perennial, unquestionable love that two people had for a girl, and how her death set off a chain of events for the two.
It is about how the two attempting to preserve her existence, a feeling anyone who has experienced grief knows.
It is a worthwhile show to watch. It is not only entertaining, but it also makes you think and reflect quite a bit.