Cross Game – 18
Not too much more than a fun comedy episode here, but it’s a good one.
I wonder if Risa is being written out of the series for the time being? If so, this is a nice sendoff for her. My respect for her went up just a bit as I watched all the hard work she put into acquiring some baseball skill for her audition. Like many Cross Game characters, there is more to her than what we initially see. Under the influence of the “acting principle”, she is quite bratty and runs roughshod over the baseball team. But I guess her parents’ impending divorce gave her a bit of a reality check. She’s still sort of grumpy, but she is actually working for what she wants rather than expecting it to be handed to her. Even though she does not acknowledge exactly why she is doing it, the fact that she thinks to give a gift to Aoba is a clear sign of how much the recent events in her life have forced Risa to mature.
As always, I love the subtle details of Cross Game, as well. If you’re not a baseball fan, you might not notice that Risa initially holds the bat incorrectly when she is in the batting cage (her dominant hand should be on top), but it’s a small thing the animators take care to portray. The subtext of Aoba’s conversation with her sisters about replacing someone when she gets to high school immediately leaps out to me, too. It’s clear what they are referring to — Aoba x Kitamura shipping~ — but the series doesn’t beat the viewer over the head with it. The thought is just quietly brought up (and subsequently makes Aoba quite grumpy, haha).
The comedy in this episode is really good. I knew there was something behind Risa’s “confession” to Keiichirou, so it is funny to hear about the baseball idol movie and then get the punch line right after. Even funnier is Akaishi’s subtle “WTF” face when Risa spouts the confession line to him, too. Akaishi is one of my favorite characters in this series. He has perfect reactions to everything, haha. Also cracked up at Azuma and his inappropriately angry face whenever he talked about Risa and Kitamura taking up practice time while she learns how to pitch. His tone (he is being about as playful as he is capable of being) and his facial expression do not match at all, and it is funny as hell.
Keiichirou’s cousin, Senda, has an OK role in this episode, but she is definitely the weak link. The scenes where she helps Risa with her batting stance are nice, but she is not really that funny of a character. I get the feeling she is just in this episode to fill a bit of time, because there can only be so many scenes with Risa training, haha.
But a solid episode overall. It says a lot about Cross Game that just about all of its characters are strong enough to take an episode that does not really push the story forward much at all and make it quite entertaining and hilarious.