Cross Game vol. 1 & 2 – Mitsuru Adachi

In 2009, Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game received the 54th Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen manga in Japan. A story of loss and determination, Cross Game is an enjoyable read for all audiences, and is especially a treat for fans of sports manga.

Clockwise from bottom: Ko Kitamura,

Clockwise from bottom: Ko Kitamura,

The Gist: Ko Kitamura is the son of a sporting goods store owner. He lives down from the Tsukishima sisters and their father, who owns a cafe and batting center. Of the four sisters, Wakaba Tsukishima is the same age as Ko. In fact, Wakaba and Ko were born on the same day in the same hospital and are close enough that Wakaba envisions their future together though they are too young to officially date.  Aoba, one year younger than them, resents Ko for dominating Wakaba’s time and interest. After a tragic accident, Ko and Aoba find themselves drawn together as they work towards realizing the dream that Wakaba had for them as kids – playing in the baseball championship in Koshien Stadium.

The Characters/Romance: Adachi’s writing of this series is well plotted and thoughtful. There is no unnecessary dialogue when pictures can convey the message clearly. Ko Kitamura is written as an intelligent and gifted individual with little self promotion. In volume one he schemes to make money for the family business by getting his schoolmates to start a baseball team and order uniforms. He accepts Wakaba’s affection like it’s a burden, in order to dodge jealous bullies. He hits homers at the batting center next door like it’s no big deal – he needs the new prize socks. This nonchalant attitude is what makes his character likeable from the get go.

With two love interests, there is subtle romance in this shounen sports manga. Aoba and Wakaba are the two Tsukishima sisters closest to Ko’s age. Wakaba and Ko have a childhood love. Growing up together like best friends, now that they are tweens Wakaba expresses romantic affection towards Ko. Ko cares deeply for Wakaba as well. Aoba resents their closeness, feeling left out of part of her sister’s life. Ko and Aoba reflect similar personality traits and they tend to butt heads. Aoba is the more stubborn of the two.

An example of Adachi's sequential storytelling with no dialogue.

Adachi’s sequential storytelling with no dialogue.

The Art: Adachi’s style is simplistic, but captures the mood and tone of the story effectively. Great action shots for the sports scenes highlight the tension of the moment. Adachi’s ability to convey messages with only images stood out to me above his other abilities. Dialogue is used sparingly when pictures can tell the story alone.

The Audience: Cross Game is a story for all ages and genders. Although categorized as shounen, there is enough romantic tension for shoujo fans to enjoy this sports drama.

The Media: Cross Game is available from Viz’s Shounen Sunday imprint, up to volume 5, with volume 6 being released on January 24, 2012.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Cross Game is a sports genre manga that has enough drama and romance to be enjoyed by shoujo fans looking for something new. Check it out.

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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