This is it – the final day of Cross Game posts from Manga Widget. I hope that you’ve enjoyed all the content here, and all the other blogs contributing to this month’s Manga Moveable Feast. Special thanks go out to our excellent host, Derik Badman at The Panelists; if you haven’t visited the site and seen all the content, now is your chance.
Today, I wanted to focus on something a little less like a footnote, and more like a stray observation about Adachi’s style of story development. One of the things that makes Cross Game such an interesting and involving read is its character development – and not just the development of a few odd characters who make up the bulk of the action in Cross Game. We see Aoba develop and get to experience Ko’s coming of age, but Adachi has plans for all of his characters.
In the first volume, Nakanishi, one of the players on the Portable team, is shown angrily fighting the high school team. This isn’t important to the story, other than these thugs from the high school team and their antics are Ko’s stated reasons for not joining the baseball team. I feel that Ko’s statement doesn’t have a whole lot of validity – he doesn’t have to show Nakanishi after a fight, his hands bloodied, his range barely contained within the panels of the page. But he does, and develops Nakanishi as a character. We know that he hates injustice and bullying, and that he has a hot temper.
One of the interesting characters that Adachi spends quite a bit of time developing is Senda, a boy in Ko’s class who fancies himself a pitcher and makes it onto the Seishu team only to later be kicked out and put on the Portable team. While at first, this character is merely a source of comic relief for readers and a source of irritation for Ko and Aoba, he suddenly becomes something more – he becomes part of the team. We get to see a great interlude in the third omnibus that shows how Ko and the baseball team spends their New Year holiday. Senda spends the day out trying to find people to hang out with, and finds out after he comes home that the team has been over to hang out, and has since left. This development shows us what Senda is – an insecure boy who hides his fears and anxieties under a mask of boastful confidence. Again – not a necessary detail for the story of Cross Game to continue, but a detail that helps readers connect to the characters presented in Cross Game.
All this character information is presented in a show, not tell sort of style. Adachi is adept at showing readers things that help them connect the dots; his character development is certainly one of these things.
This character development is unlike anything in other shonen or shojo manga, and solidifies Adachi’s place as a great author and entertainer. Because of his attention to detail and focus on the development of his entire varied cast of baseball-playing high-schoolers, Cross Game transcends its Shonen Sunday background and can, if even only for small moments, change from a form of entertainment into art. And we are much the richer for it.