After a strong focus on Aoba because of her injuries and the way it
pushes her back with her plans to join the national woman's baseball
team, Cross Game gets back to Ko and the others for a couple of
different things. That it opens on some basic baseball among the guys is
really good since the springtime of them playing is quite enjoyable,
especially as all the guys are starting to look even older than they
have before as a whole lot of time has passed since the start of their
high school careers. While we see them getting things going with the
team, Azuma has an interesting encounter with their former coach who is
holding quite a grudge against Azuma and the others who he believes
orchestrated his ouster there and he's intent on shutting them down in
the summer games since he's still doing what he's always done in
aggressively recruiting strong players that never seem to gel as a team.
The character side is again the main focus here though as we see Akane and Ko going off on an actual date as he's been reading about kabuki recently. This actually comes as good news to Aoba when Azuma tells her about it, bringing her a glove maintenance kit so she can keep it in shape while in the hospital, and she's quite glad to hear that he's getting out there since he hasn' dated anyone since Wakaba. Not that they really dated in the teenage sense since she died as young as she did, but it's left a mark on him. It is concerning that the first person he dates is essentially a somewhat grown-up version of Akane in some ways though, but as Azuma points out, it's good for him because the bigger the stage of his life gets, the better and more well rounded a person he becomes.