26 Feb / Cross Game 5 (vols. 10-11) and Cross Game 6 (vols. 12-13) by Mitsuru Adachi, translated by Lillian Olsen
Let’s play ball … While everyone else is lost to Linsanity, I’m only too happy to be back in high school with ace pitcher Ko Kitamura. Volume 10 is all about the game: at the top of the fourth, thanks to Ko and star batter Azuma, the Seishu Gakuen team has scored the only point in the regional play-off against Ryuou, the team that’s favored (again) to win the National High School Baseball Tournament at Koshien. Aoba – who can’t play just because she’s a girl! – watches intently; she and Ko still can’t get along outside the game, but they’re in perfect synch when it comes to pitching that ball. Just at the final moment of truth, the late Wakaba makes her wishes known from the other side!
The games are over for now in volume 11, but life gets even more interesting when a new soba shop opens next door to Kitamura’s Sports. Everyone does a double-take each time they spot the owners’ daughter Akane Takigawa who bears an uncanny resemblance to Wakaba. In an almost too-much moment, she’s carrying a shopping bag marked “Wakaba” – “It’s from the fruit store in front of Oizumi Park Station,” she explains – when Ko and Azuma meet her face to face. Ko, Aoba, Papa Tsukishima, and especially Akaishi (who adored Wakaba from afar like no other) don’t quite know what to do with their … well … shock!
The final year of high school starts for Ko and Azuma in volume 12: this will be their last chance to get to – and win! – Koshien. After all, Wakaba predicted victory for this year! Her presence is more than felt with Akane around: she not only looks like Wakaba, but her personality is similarly caring, nurturing, loving towards all. The school year moves quickly. Ko and Akane grow comfortably closer. Aoba breaks her leg and finds Azuma constantly by her side. Outside the hospital, Azuma has a run-in with evil coach Daimo who’s apparently back in the game …
In volume 13, the academic year is already over, but the last summer baseball season is just starting. Aoba’s on crutches, but that’s not stopping her from bossing the team into working harder, especially Ko who’s still stealing all her best pitching moves: “Don’t be so stingy,” he throws back. “Think of it as borrowing my body and pitching vicariously through me.” In between training, everyone seems to be pairing off … even the youngest Momiji! Ko turns 18 at volume’s end … and his devotion to Wakaba who shares his natal day is one of the most touching manga moments ever. Sniff, sniff. Pass the tissues, already!
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Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Published: 2011 and 2012 (United States)
CROSS GAME © Mitsuru Adachi
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.