Author: Mitsuru Adachi
Viz Media/Shonen Sunday
373 pages (2-in-1 omnibus edition)
Spoiler warning: Review contains spoilers for the series so far. Read with caution!
The arrival of a new year brings Ko's last shot at Koshien closer at hand. But Akane Takigawa and her striking resemblance to Wakaba cause Ko's heart to stir. Meanwhile, something happens to make Azuma and Aoba grow closer. Young feelings wax and wane in Ko's third year of high school. And to top it off, the Seishu baseball team gets a new coach?! (Source: Goodreads)
It's been almost two years since I've spent quality time with Ko and the Seishu team but once I dove into the sixth omnibus edition of Mitsuru Adachi's manga, it did not feel like such a long time as much as a brief weekend away from good friends. In the last volume, people were wondering if ghosts could age as new girl in town Akane walked into their lives, striking more than a passing resemblance to the deceased Wakaba. In this volume, we explore more of Akane's character and see what happens when another eligible young woman comes into the sphere of Ko Kitamura.
Cross Game volume six is surprisingly light on actual baseball, although it is certainly a part of the story. We don't get any multi-chapter Seishu games but a lot of training, with everyone person reaching and straining for one great goal: to reach Koshien - and win. For Ko, who is now a third year, this is it. If he can't reach Koshien this year, he never will. Is it any surprise that he's training like mad? Luckily, he's clearly got the skill to win as well as a great teacher in the form of Aoba.
It's been a great volume for Aoba, who has continued to embrace her passion for baseball and has used it to lead Seishu to victory. Naturally, she's so focused on the pitcher's mound at Koshien that she doesn't seem to realize she has a new guy gunning for her affection: the usually quiet Azuma Yuuhei. He even openly tells his team mates that Aoba is the only girl he could see himself dating. Whether or not Aoba realizes it is another thing...
Also, I find it hilarious that the man wanting to marry Aoba's sister won't be able to unless they reach Koshien - so now he's pushing everyone on the team to get there! It cannot be denied: baseball flows through the blood of all Tsukishimas.
As for Akane Takigawa, we are seeing more of her as her but also as the teenager Wakaba could have possibly grown up to become. Amazingly enough, she is getting along best with Aoba and Ko. She is also drawing out a lot of emotions from Akaishi, who had quite a secret crush on Wakaba - the same girl Akane looks so much like. Naturally, Akaishi becomes emotionally attached to Akane too. Author Mitsuru Adachi is creating a web of relationships upon which this series lies on, and at the heart of it is Wakaba, even from beyond the grave.
Don't worry: baseball activities does happen! After all, we are training for Koshien, which means a lot of laps and bat swings and practice pitches. And something happens on the field that changes the dynamics of the team permanently. But right now, this volume is more about characters interacting and exploring their various relationships that a pennant. Luckily, looking at people is one of the things Mitsuru Adachi does best.
It doesn't feel like Cross Game is nearing its end, but there's only two more omnibuses left in this series. I believe in the abilities of Adachi to bring this series to a satisfying conclusion – I just wish I had more of it to read!