Cross Game 40, Kimi ni Todoke 14

Cross Game 40 is another “move the pieces around slightly” episode, where people talk about little things, like love and baseball. The first little story is the oddest; there’s a stalker following Akane around. Kou and Aoba are both concerned; so am I. It’s a slightly more serious thing than this show usually presents, especially when it’s a dark figure hiding behind corners. But it soon becomes ridiculous. Aoba recognizes the stalker because he used to stalk HER.

The culprit, the World’s Worst Stalker, says some embarrassing things and then tells Aoba and Akane that he thinks they’re sisters. Leading to an odd realization between the girls. They begin to hang out together. Akane steps deeper into the events.

Speaking of love and baseball, the second story ties them together. Ichiyo has told easy-going Junpei that she will marry him if the team makes the Koshien.

Mr. Enjoy-the-Game in love.

Pretty easy to see this as a ruse, and it doesn’t take long before she admits it (when Junpei isn’t around). Ichiyo, normally on the sidelines with a slightly disapproving air, turns out to have a devious mind. What’s lovely is that we know Junpei will put up with it for as long as she can dish it out. It’s also obvious how it’s going to turn out.

But no answer yet from Aoba about whether to participate in the All-Star tryouts. The episode still has her wavering, thinking while cooking (Aoba should never think and cook at the same time), having new friend Akane tell her to make a decision she won’t regret, scouting the rival Ryuou team and wondering if just watching is what she wants. There’s more prodding, this time by Junpei, about her and Azuma becoming a couple. She hasn’t made up her mind about that either. Maybe she can’t. “Be honest with yourself,” says Junpei, but it’s a running theme in the show that Aoba is dishonest about her feelings.

Nothing much really happens. Just little things. But that’s all Cross Game needs.

I think Kimi ni Todoke 14 had what everyone expected. Kurumi manages to confess to starting the hateful rumors to Sawako, Yano and Yoshida. Even the silly rumors.

Silly, but kind of empowering.

The two Y girls are satisfied, but you know Sawako is not. Kurumi had been so nice to her! But that part comes a little later. Instead we get more sports (Yoshida’s team loses in volleyball but wins in soccer, in case you’re keeping score), with some karma and pathos mixed in. They overhear other girls trash-talking Kurumi, and later the fictional romance with Pin rears its ugly (but pretty funny) head.

I’m wondering if they feel bad because Kurumi has bad taste in men, or if they feel sorry for her because of the rumor. Either way, Kurumi is not having a good day. But there’s Sawako to the rescue, sort of.

You can call it naivete if you like. Sawako simply can’t believe Kurumi actually hates her. Or you can write it off as the act a sweet-natured person who’s spent much of her life alone unable to bear seeing someone else lonely. But Sawako’s motivation to talk more with Kurumi is odder than that: She knows that both of them are in love with Kazehaya (who barely appears this episode), and thought it would be nice to commiserate. I wonder if she expected Kurumi to lash out.

But it’s still a nice scene because of how Kurumi reacts. Her words are full of spite, but she’s in a lot of pain for her unrequited love. When she keeps crying out “I hate you!” we can tell she’s trying to make herself believe it. On the other hand, they don’t become friends again. In fact, now they are officially rivals. Sawako’s action partly works, and it sets up the next story arc. The only difference is now the girls are on more even footing.

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