Is this guy the main male protagonist of this anime?
I’ve chosen Cross Game as the next anime to be reviewed in this blog over the final season of Nodame Cantabile, mainly because I want to wait until its 12th episode was aired and released. A 2009 anime, naturally this anime will compete with ‘Anime of the Year 2009’ title holder Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. But this anime’s quest for glory will be hindered by the fact that I will apply both the sport and romance genre handicaps to this anime rating.
Or maybe the main male protagonist is this character instead (Hint: Look at their faces)? Watch this anime to find out.
Our main male protagonist loses his love interest in an accident, therefore he wants to fulfil her dream of seeing him pitching at the jam-packed Koushien Stadium. Helped by his love interest’s younger sister who is a pitcher herself, he builds up his skills and abilities to become an ace baseball pitcher who eventually carries his team to the nationals.
Just like the twin handicaps indicates, this anime is basically a romance and sport anime enrolled into one package, splashed with plenty of slice-of-life additives. The romance part of this anime is excellent, in fact, this anime is one of the better romance anime I have watched. My only complaint about the flawless romantic part of this anime is the essence is too conservative; you actually know what will happen next if you have read or watched the author’s past works. This is actually the first anime of his that I watched, but I have read the manga versions of Touch and H2 before. That’s why while I have the anime version of Touch in my collection, I never watches it.
This anime is also a decent slice-of-life anime, but the sport part of this anime is definitely not up to par when compared to its romance part. This mainly have to do with the fact that less than one-third of this 50-episode anime are devoted to the games the baseball club play. There are more episodes where the team is shown in training, but more often than not these episodes are also used to advance the romance part of this anime rather than helping its sporting aspect.
This is very evident in the training camp arc in the first half of this anime, which are used completely differently than the similar training camp arc in the baseball anime Ookiku Furikabutte I’ve reviewed before. In Ookiku Furikabutte, the training camp is used primarily to power-up the newly formed baseball team members, where you can see the team members training their heart out to become better at this baseball thingy. In this anime, the training camp arc is used to advance the relationship between the main male protagonist and main female protagonist. Situations like this is why I think Ookiku Furikabutte (there is a second season OUT NOW, yay) is a better baseball anime than this title.
This girl here is the mother of all flashbacks seen in this anime.
The presentation of this anime is excellent; while the pacing of the story is a bit on a slow side (unavoidable I think in this 50-episode series), the storyline does develop nicely with the possible exception in the last 10 episodes where I think the plot is moving too convolutedly. Another notable aspect of this anime is the frequent use of flashbacks. But even if this anime doesn’t have as many flashbacks, proportionately, as Saki has, the execution is arguably not as smooth as the one Saki have done. That recap episode at the middle of this series probably soured my view of this for this anime.
Character developments in this anime are excellent all around. The two main protagonists in this anime are definitely the best, and are assisted by plenty of equally good side characters. Even the introduction of a certain character midway into the series are done seamlessly and flawlessly (learn from this anime Umineko). The ending, while sadly predictable, more than make up for it with excellent storytelling that culminates towards a happy ending for everyone.
The violent main female protagonist…
Characters’ design in this anime is decent, and that pretty much it. Plenty of black hairs, and that’s a very good thing in real-life Japan. A positive point for this anime.
…is about to punch yet another random innocent law-abiding civilian. Don't blame her, you have to see the first screenshot above to see why she is so jumpy.
Meanwhile, the voice acting in this anime, as a whole, is just average. There are no outstanding performers in this anime for this aspect.
The main male protagonist's love interest is very well known for her pushiness when it comes to birthday gifts.
The OST is quite decent. All ED themes meets my standard, with the exception for the 3rd ED theme. The OP theme is also forgettable. Somehow still a positive point for this anime.
Much of the baseball anime/manga from Japan has baseball team that aims for this common ground. Will we ever see a title that aims a little bit higher, such as, the World Series?
The animation is great, even in fast-paced scenes. Choreography for the baseball scenes are also done well, without any exaggerations. The directing is tight and good, with minor exceptions.
Just a few of the side characters that helps the main male protagonist qualifies for the Koushien and also getting his woman.
Despite the twin handicaps, this anime still scored a respectable 7 out of 10. Would have been higher if the sporting aspect of this anime matches the quality of the romance part. Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei still retains its throne for the time being.
This anime also has the sing-while-you-are-drawing feature prevalent in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series too, and IMO this anime has it better.
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