By Leroy Douresseaux
May 23, 2013 - 17:22
|Cross Game Volume 8 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “T” for “Teen”
Created by Mitsuru Adachi, Cross Game is an award-winning baseball manga (54th Shogakukan Manga Award). The series focuses on a high school baseball player, Ko Kitamura, and his relationship with the four Tsukishima sisters, who are his next door neighbors. Ko, a star pitcher, was very close to one of the sisters, Wakaba, who drowned when she and Ko were in the fifth grade. Afterwards, Ko and Aoba, the sister who is a year younger than him, work towards fulfilling Wakaba’s dream of seeing them both play in the high school baseball championship.
VIZ Media’s Cross Game publishing project ends with Cross Game Volume 8. Each VIZ Media Cross Game graphic novel collects two or three volumes of the Japanese series in a book. Cross Game, Vol. 8 collects Vol. 16 (Chapters 141 to 150) and Vol. 17 (Chapters 151 to the Final Chapter) of the Japanese editions.
As Cross Game, Vol. 16 begins, Ko and Aoba workout in preparation for the final game of the North Tokyo Tournament. Both also worry about the impending surgery of their friend, Akane Takigama, a girl who looks uncannily like Wakaba. Then, it’s on to Meiji Jingu Baseball Stadium where Ko and the Seishu Gakeun Senior High School baseball team take on Ryuou Gakuin, a high school baseball powerhouse that won the most recent Spring Koshien.
As Cross Game, Vol. 17 opens, the Seishu/Ryuou game goes into extra innings. The longer the game last, the more likely that Ryuou will win. Will Wakaba’s dream of Ko pitching in Koshien, the national tournament, come true? Which couple will it be: Ko and Akane or Ko and Aoba.?
THE LOWDOWN: I must admit that I am a little sad that the Cross Game manga has come to an end. The death of young character early in the series made me a little reluctant to read it. The quality of the series overcame (or overwhelmed) my trepidation, and I looked forward to each VIZ volume.
I think that anyone who reads this will savor every page of this poignant series. Cross Game is one of the all-time best sports comics, and it is certainly one of the best graphic novels available in America for young readers. A sweet light comedy and touching teen drama, Cross Game does baseball as well as Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk does basketball, but in a different mood. I hope that this startling work of comic book storytelling remains in-print in one format or another. Cross Game is both a keeper and something worth discovering.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Readers looking for a series that personifies the simple fun of reading a comic book will like the Shonen Sunday manga, Cross Game.
Rating: A /10