One of my favorite things to do, and something I have done since I was 10 years old (possibly younger), is watch anime. At an early age, being an American male, I was always drawn to the amazing and superhuman characters that you find in Japanese animation. The exhilaration of seeing your favorite protagonist power up, do something amazing and defeat whatever villain was created is not something I have been able to find in other medias. As such I was drawn, first, to characters like Goku and Gohan from Dragonball Z and my love for anime simply grew and expanded from there.
Now, I would never dream of arguing that I am or ever will be the biggest fan of anime in the world. That right is simply reserved for fans more obsessed then myself. I find that my fanaticisn loses to my pragmatic nature. What I mean to say is that I simply will forgo the animated pleasures of my favorite series’ for things like work, sleep, or any other issue that I deem to have more importance. Still, I have watched and continue to watch newer anime’s all the time. There are the standard series like Naruto, Bleach, initial D, Sword Art Online, Death Note and many more. But I also find myself wanting more character depth or more story-based shows rather than purely action/adventure shows.
Cross Game, for instance, is an anime I accidentally ran in to a couple of years ago that is amazing on two fronts: One, its a baseball anime. I love love LOVE baseball. Two, the story and character development are very different from standard sports series. Cross Game is by no means void of cliche’s, after all the work was born of Japanese hands and the Japanese are nothing if not cliche-masters. The show follows Ko Kitamura who works a a sports shop with his parents and is bestfriend(and is in love with) to a young girl who’s family owns a batting-cage center. Ko’s young love interest dies tragically while saving another girl from drowning.
Not before, however, revealing a dream to Ko (and a mutual friend) that she had a dream just prior to her death in which Ko and the friend formed a battery(a pitcher-catcher duo) at Koshien(Japanese high school championship game). This sets up the ENTIRE SERIES as the two boys attempt to achieve the literal dream of there dead friend.
Throughout the series there is also a love interest. It is, in fact, the sister of the dead girl. Unfortunately her name is Aoba, which is thoroughly unpleasant-sounding. She is far more of a tomboy than her late sister and can pitch, at least initially, as impressively as Ko who later becomes his school’s ace. Aoba sees Ko as a simple-minded rival but later starts to show affection towards him.
You are ways rooting for the main characters in this series and they seem to act as if working for a higher purpose. I always get left with a feeling of awe while watching this series and a sense of deep sadness when it’s over. I actually used this anime as a gateway show for my fiancé. It was the first anime we watched together and she has watched many more since. It is a show you can enjoy whether you like baseball or not. Now, is it for people who like blood, gore, and depth? Well… If they are people who reject the softer side of life I would say “no.” But I
guarantee that anyone willing to give this anime a fair shot will definitely find themselves falling in love with the characters of this series.