Cross Game 2 (vols. 4-5) by Mitsuru Adachi, translated by Lillian Olsen
You can’t just jump in midway with this manga … so you’ll first have to check out the omnibus debut which contains the first three volumes (as originally published in Japan) of this adorable, athletic series. The initial three contain important narrative development for its main characters that you’ll need to appreciate future volumes. And, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I still can’t give away what happens at the end of volume 1 that’s so important to the rest of the story … so go back before you catch up!
Senior high school has already meant quite a few challenges for Ko Kitamura and his baseball buddies. Relegated to the “Portable Team” with the rest of his usual teammates, Ko has an uphill battle proving his baseball prowess against the elite recruits who make up the official Seishu Gakuen Senior High School varsity baseball team. The ‘Portables’ are led by Coach Maeno, assisted by team manager Okubo (who earnestly answers to “Tubby”!), and hang out in a makeshift annex dubbed “The Farm.” What they might not have in official support, though, they make up for in underdog tenacity (and aren’t above doing some undercover surveillance research on their elite opponents).
Volume 4 begins with an all-important game, and if anyone had any doubt as to rankings, the scoreboard lists the two teams as merely “P” and the sanctioned “SEISHU.” Clearly, the elites are expecting an easy match … but six innings later, that board shows quite a few surprises!
The gutsy match continues in Volume 5 from the bottom of the sixth. Much to everyone’s surprise – or utter annoyance, depending on whose side you’re on – the Portables are no pushovers. And no, of course I can’t tell you how the game ends (what would be the fun in that?), but inning by inning brings new revelations and excitement for sure. I can tell you that the game only drives everyone to be better and stronger, so once school is out, the Portables are eagerly off to the countryside for some “secret special training.” The good Coach Maeno is determined to prepare his players to meet (and beat?) the varsity team when school resumes.
I must point you to one touching interlude which you shouldn’t miss – at the end of chapter 36, unmarked page 302. It’s one of those touching, heartfelt moments of treasured young love that will surely, certainly make you sigh, sigh, *sigh*… (another reason you have to go back to Cross Game 1 to get the full sighing effect!).
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Published: 2011 (United States)
CROSS GAME © Mitsuru Adachi
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.