Cross Game 41, Ladies vs. Butlers is gone, Ookami Kakushi 3

I never thought I’d say it, but Cross Game has been dithering around too much recently, especially when it comes to the whole Kou/Aoba/Akane/Azuma situation (Rearrange those as you see fit). I know this show is rarely straightforward, and we get everything, as usual, through side glances and symbolism, but there’s under a season left and on top of the relationships we have a lot of baseball to play. Or maybe I’d rather get back to some baseball for a change.

Kou gives Aoba cash to buy Azuma a cake, but she says she’ll use it to get Kou’s upcoming birthday cake, if she remembers. And Kou got the date wrong, anyway. (Sometimes the symbolism in Cross Game comes with chocolate, sometimes with cake.) There’s business with a stepladder the Tsukishima’s borrowed and forgot about, which relates to the cash n’ cake economics in a way I couldn’t quite follow.

Akane has made her way into the characters’ lives so that it’s as though she’s become Wakaba herself. She sleeps over at the Tsukishima’s, in Wakaba’s old bed (with Aoba’s blessing). The two of them talk about Kou, just the way Aoba and Wakaba used to. She has the same warm spot toward them all as Wakaba did. In fact, it’s a little scary. Even Kou admits that Akane is too much like Wakaba. He still buys a gift for Wakaba’s birthday each year, even though he now denies it. Yet he’s certainly interested in Akane. There’s something weird and a little wrong about this whole situation, even if the characters are acting honestly.

The cake theme continues. The fact that Wakaba and Kou share the same birthday adds some comic relief. Akaishi gets a cake, but tells Kou that it’s for Wakaba. But Akane bakes him a cake of his own. Aoba is not pleased.

Happy birthday Kou, from Aoba.

While we sort all this out preparations for the big tournament are in full swing. The team is improving. Even Aoba admits that Kou is in excellent form. Strategies are being formed. I wonder if the love stuff will step to the side when the games begin. There are eleven episodes left. The way things are going Cross Game might actually have to rush to finish on time.

Ladies vs. Butlers 3 is a little better.

They even toned down the fanservice, though seeing one underdeveloped girl (who’s nineteen, but that’s an excuse) naked is one too many. The story this week was actually a little sweet, too, though not terribly interesting. Dropped.

Ookami Kakushi 3, apart from one scene where the scythe girl is running with her wolves, or whatever they are, is mostly sunshine followed by sinister implications. It starts innocently enough with Issei driving Hiroshi and his pals to a nearby stream, where innocent fish-catching and flirting prevail. Apart from one little moment …

Kana’s almost as much an outsider as Hiroshi and Mana, so it’s good to pay attention to her. Hiroshi isn’t sure anything is really wrong with this town, yet. Sure, some of the people are kind of weird, but he hasn’t seen enough to put the pieces together. Neither have we. But we do have some aberrant behavior from Issei later on. After flirting with Hiroshi on the way home, he later picks him up from the hospital (which is maybe giving people weird drugs) and tries to molest him.

Monsters and beasts I can handle. THIS is scary.

This is disgusting enough, even though it’s clear he’s under some kind of influence. When the struggle causes his aroma generator (filled with hassaku scent) to smash he recovers his senses, but he really doesn’t turn off the disturbing interest he has in Hiroshi. But we get a clue even if Hiroshi doesn’t: the scent of the fruit is somehow important. The hassaku connection is further reinforced during a conversation with Nemeru and her uncle (who treated Hiroshi at the hospital). But at this point I don’t know whether you should ward off the monsters by wearing a necklace of them or avoid them like the plague. Hiroshi has less than that to go on. But maybe he’ll avoid Issei from now on. Just bits and pieces, slowly coming together. That’s fine.

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