First, a merry Christmas from Momiji and Nomo!
It’s common knowledge that Cross Game likes to take its time. After all, one ball game took three episodes to cover. It’s full of little side stories, like the Youhei/ichiyo relationship, that never rush (Of course, those who have seen ep37 know that it’s the wrong episode to use THAT subplot as an example), but this reputation for slowness isn’t quite true. The show is equally adept at compressing time. Unimportant times of the year, like the off-season, whiz by in only a couple episodes. And in this one Aoba’s recuperation–mental, not physical–takes only one.
The show spends much of its time going over the injury’s ramifications to everyone. Aoba herself puts on a quiet but cheerful face. Kou sees right through it; he knows how frustrated she is. Azuma might as well. He’s mentioned before that Aoba is dishonest about her feelings (and in this episode Akaishi repeats the phrase, but adds Kou to the list), but he’s unsure what he can do. Also, since he’s the one who fractured her leg he’s got some guilt to deal with, but Aoba won’t comply and get mad at him. Akaishi leaves her alone in order not to upset her. The All-Japan girl’s trials continue without her. We learn who makes the next round by seeing, in a nice, understated scene, which characters smile during the announcement. Aoba stops watching games on TV.
And we drift away for a few little subplots, like the amusing Youhei/Ichiyo scene mentioned above, Akaishi rescuing Akane from a masher, Kabuki tickets, pushing the romance pawns around …
In other words, the show goes into a holding pattern. Not that the plot currently revolves around Aoba, or that she was in a big crisis. The big crisis in Cross Game came in ep1. The show doesn’t try to suggest that her brief disinterest in baseball is any more that part of the healing process, as distressing as it might have seemed to Azuma.
Rather to my surprise it’s Kou who decides to get Aboa back in the game, so to speak.
I’d thought Kou’s reasons for not visiting Aoba understandable, but a little clueless and rude the longer he kept it up. But it seems he was only biding his time until some signal only he or Aoba would understand went off in his brain. The subsequent scene is disarmingly simple. At one point they’re both asleep! After some gentle flashbacks of Wakaba and some silent ball tossing Aoba pronounces herself ready to leave the hospital:
Neither character says much of anything. Aoba tosses out a few insults and Kou goes home. And just like that Aoba is ready for the next step in her rehab. The scene is a tiny marvel.
Next week is Kou and Akane’s first date. But is Kou more appropriate for Aoba?