Cross Game 34, Blacksmith 8, Trapeze 7

Cross Game 34 takes place around New Year’s, the off-season, but the boys (and one girl) have little else on their mind but baseball. Three of them go to a shrine to pray for the team.

Azuma goes home but returns early because of boredom. Aoba plays around in the batting cage. Azuma tries to talk her into trying out for the All-Japan Women’s team. It’s here where the seriousness begins. Aoba is trying to live Wakaba’s dream of the big tournament, even if it means she can’t play. But is that the best thing? Why shouldn’t she go where they’ll let her on the field? Aoba dismisses Azuma’s opinion, but …

Aoba, conflicted.

Of course, Cross Game just slips this scene into an episode otherwise full of lovely little vignettes. A potential boyfriend for little Momiji takes down a pickpocket, Kou helps Akane with her deliveries (to Aoba’s delight), Junpei helps the Tsukishima family cook (the boys working their way into the girls’ hearts), Senda bikes around wondering where everyone is, Asami climbs a mountain to view the New Year sunrise. We see the families gather together to spend the holidays, or drink like fish. Rarely does a show move so slowly and yet work so well. So do the characters: Akane wants Kou to see a drawing she made, but not until summer. Huh? Akane hadn’t been around for long, but even she has adapted to the show’s slow rhythms.

Romantic snow.

The Sacred Blacksmith 8 starts with the moral dilemma we got at the end of last week’s ep, then ramps it up further by suggesting that Charlotte and her three guards join the “Militant Nation,” in return for all the Empire’s secrets. This doesn’t make their decision any easier to make. It’s little Lisa who comes up with the solution, and Cecily vows to make the girls understand—by beating them up.

She could have said this before she beat them up ...

I understand the logic behind it. But some of the wording is questionable, at least in the translation. Cecily argues (after the beatdown) that it’s okay to live disgustingly as long as you’re all happy together. Really? Disgustingly?

But it works, and what I thought would be an extended story arc suddenly ends with Charlotte and Co. leaving, after giving up their demon swords to the Empire. Well, good luck to them, now pretty much powerless and alone … Though we get a bit at the end where Charlotte says a guy named Siegfried was the one who armed them and told them to get Aria. They were nothing more than pawns. I’m disappointed. There was a lot they could do in this situation: play with the politics, pit one force against another, and I suppose we’ll never know why the Empire rejected Charlotte. Or maybe the image above is correct, and they will all meet again.

In Trapeze 7 Yakuza boss Seiji has a fear of edges and sharp objects, and feuds with another gang over the deed to some property his girlfriend wants, while we get a little tour of past episodes. Seiji himself appeared in ep1 and we flash back to that scene (which is weird as hell, because it means Irabu, in the room with them, was treating two patients in the room at the same time. Which one was he there for, or is he omnipresent?), also, BANDOOO! shows up, we see the party Irabu threw last episode, also Mayumi’s favorite book, and Irabu mentions both Cell Phone Kid and Erection Man. Totally unprofessional, I’m sure, but that’s the way Irabu rolls. In fact, Trapeze 7 sets new levels for Irabu hardly doing anything and letting the patients cure themselves. Seiji isn’t even really cured; he simply decides to deal with it. What helps Seiji the most is the discovery that the rival boss has his own obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Dueling disorders.

Ironically, the rival can’t be with out his sharp sword. I guess Irabu is some use here, as he’s the one who makes the discovery. But I can’t help but feel that he’s treating the whole episode as a patient recruitment drive.

The physician in question.

And it does make Seiji realize that Yakuza members like himself can get fucked up over their pasts and the codes they must follow, but again, he comes to this conclusion himself. Oh, well, I’ve complained about this before. If Irabu changed and became more responsible I doubt the show would be as much fun. This episode is fun as hell, and the closing music still makes me want to disco-dance.

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