Cross Game

Aug. 9th, 2010 02:24 am
salinea: (pensive)
[personal profile] salinea posting in [community profile] abymage
Cross Game

Kitamura Ko has grown up in the same neighbourhood as the four daughters of the Cafe Clover, and has always been friendly with them, especially Wakaba, who was the born the same day he was, who is pretty much his girlfriend; and baseball-crazed Aoba, one year younger, who bickers a lot with him because she resents him taking away her sister's attention - but the summer when they are 11, Wakaba dies in an accident. Fast forward five years, Aoba is still as serious about baseball; and still bickers a lot with Ko who didn't join the baseball team in middle school, but still practices for it, when another childhood friend, Akaishi, mention that Wakaba's last dream was for both of them to play baseball in the national high school competition at the Koshien stadium.

Adapted from a shounen manga by Adachi, Cross Game is a series that is... well, very much like every Adachi series. Quality slice of life / sports / romance / comedy story, with romantic development that take forever to develop; and simplistic, almost caricatural character design. It makes me nostalgic, because I remember loving Touch when I was 14; but that asides; it's genuinely a good series and very pleasant to watch.

One of the big draw for me is the subtlety of the direction and the wit of the dialogues that really create a pleasant and intimate daily life atmosphere and develops the characters in all their nuances and with a lot of humour. Ko's laid back snark and Aoba's fierce determination make them very sympathetic and well realised leads, the rest of the cast is also pretty great, with some great depiction of friendships, and they all have great chemistry with one another. Even the designated comic relief / butt monkey character miraculously manages not to annoy me and has his moments of depth. There were a couple of characters I thought were underexploited, though, such as Aoba's cousin and would-be boyfriend who is introduced and then pretty much ignored by everyone but the little sister Momiji.

Wakaba's death, which of course weighs a lot in the memory of the main characters, isn't at all exploited for melodrama, but is always a presence, often bittersweet, that hangs over the characters, in a way that is subtly touching. A few flashbacks really establish her character and the influence she had on other characters. It all adds to the quality of the narrative which is very down to earth and understated in a beautiful and poignant way.

While I'm not much of a judge of baseball games; I though the few matches (no more than 4 I think) that the narrative focussed on in depth were very entertaining and gripping and seemed realistic enough.

I thought at times Cross Games was a little bit repetitive and lagging in its middle; though that may have been from watching 50 episodes in all of 5 days. Certainly, it was well paced enough that I gobbled it quickly ;)

The production values are so-so, with some obvious cut corners with a lot of stills at times, but fluid enough most of the time.

Gender dynamics speaking; the animated adaptation actually improved things by actually remembering that there's such a thing Woman's baseball and having a storyline spent on that, though ultimately (and disappointingly), the boy's team's accomplishment is the real focus of the story. Otherwise there is enough female characters who actually talk to one another that the show often passed the Bechdel test despite said focus. Interestingly, the adaptation also developed a minor female character, the manager of the varsity team, beyond what she was in the manga.

On other dynamics issues; there are a couple of secondary fat characters in the show : one of them is the female manager of the team, and on one hand she's portrayed very positively as hard working and always cheerful, on the other hand, everyone refers to her as Chubby to the point that while wikipedia gives her name I don't remember it ever being pronounced in the show. The other fat characters is one of the boy on the baseball team and also a positive character though in the second part of the anime there are a few jokes revolving around the necessity of him to lose weigh (albeit for the sake of improving his results at baseball). He's also one of the only guy of the team other than the whole main romantic polygon who has a romantic life, hooking up with a (hot) girlfriend (who pursued him) early on. Compared to most anime (who seldom have fat characters as anything but a one note joke) I guess it's mostly a progressive depiction.

Overall I very much enjoying watching this series, getting to spend some time with those characters.
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Etrangere's anime reviews

September 2011

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