Considering the way that this series opened, with Wakaba getting killed, having bad things happen shouldn't be a surprise with Cross Game. There've been a number of ups and downs over the course of the show, but it's largely been a quiet but hopeful series that has been building events in a natural and realistic manner. So with this episode, having Aoba being taken down hard by practice with Azuma, enough so that she has to go to the hospital, it's not a surprise but it's one that really makes you feel it even though you're not actually involved. With her dreams having edged closer with the women's team, having this happen is just crushing, even as she puts on a very brave face. It's also not surprising that Azuma is pretty much guilting himself into submission. He's definitely had feelings for her on some level and having this happen as she's starting to realize her dream, only to have it knocked out from under her, is crushing. And in that male way, he takes it all upon himself and beats himself up pretty hard, though only a little of it shows through to others. Aoba's positive outlook doesn't help him at all either since she's not going to be angry with him in a way that will let him try to work through it. It's not good for Aoba either since even if she's not truly feeling angry, she's not letting the sadness out either since she just says that the women's team simply wasn't meant to be. Read More
Cross Game's previous episode which featured the second half of the game against Sannou was their way of playing the team by showing them one thing with the scouts and then unleashing the full potential in the game. But not from the start, rather they waited several innings to lull them into a sense of superiority before crushing them rather soundly. This is the trouble you run into with scouting, something that schools and teams do regularly at this level, but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth with the Seishu team as I wanted to see them play straight and honest from the start and to have Sannou try and adapted earlier to it. That felt like the right thing to do in my book. With that arc done, and the game against Ryuou High coming up soon, a lot of this episode is given over to fluff. Some of it comes down to decent little moments that involves Nakanishi and Ko talking about the upcoming game and how Ko needs to focus just on his pitching while Nakanishi does the scouting and preparation himself. There's a brief bit about one of the reasons they're doing this, touching on Wakaba a bit, but there's something more to it as well that's unsaid as of just yet. Part of it is fun to watch just to see how Senda is about the whole thing as he's just happy to be playing at all and holding a bat in his hand feels like the right thing in his life. There's a bit of other minor character fluff outside of the game arena, but it feels so inconsequential in general that it doesn't even stick with you much. The show does seem to shift to the game against Ryuou rather quickly, especially considering the scale of it as they're playing in front of a very large stadium audience unlike previous games. It's the kind of game that starts off how I'd much rather see them at times compared to the previous episode, with Matsushima plays really well and strongly, leaving an impression. When they change sides and Ko gets up for the first time, he doesn't play around, he doesn't let them feel like they have a chance or just lets them hit for his own side to get some practice. He gets in there with the three strong Ryuou batters and takes them down one right after the other, leaving an impression on the audience that's shocking.