Cross Game 48, Yumeiro 19

Cross Game 48 brings us the finals, with some annoying sidelights. When it actually concentrates on the game, since we’ve been waiting for months, it’s an exciting episode, but when they switch over to Mizuki NOT watching the game and wondering what the fuss is all about, I wanted to throttle the kid and force the camera back to the stadium.

Mostly, though, it’s the game. It starts with great energy in the music, the most sustained slam-bang noises Cross Game has done to date. Kou starts a little nervous but regains his control quickly. The other pitcher, Oikawa, seems unfazeable. Some of the show’s fun watching him smile ruefully when something goes wrong, possibly because very little does, or simply thinking to himself. He’s obviously having a great time out there. But that’s only one of the little asides we see from the players. There’s also Azuma and the enemy slugger meeting up at first, each one battling to see who can be the more laconic. More importantly, Kou tells Akaishi about the successful surgery during a mound conference just before the game begins. Akaishi is not happy. We see the game from fans’ perspective as well. Aoba and Junpei analyze from the stands. The fathers get drunk watching at home. Even Risa takes an interest. Akane’s parents watch from the hospital while their daughter sleeps.

Game face.

The most interesting subplot in the episode concerns Akaishi. When he tells Kou he’ll advance Azuma (who has Seishuu’s only hit) so Kou can drive him home, Kou says “Don’t defer everything to me,” which means two things. For one thing, it makes Akaishi realize his true value to the team. He’s a slugger (the manager mentally says the same thing). He should use his strengths. But of course it might also be referring to him, Kou and Akane. By saying this it might mean Kou is telling him to follow his heart and not assume Kou’s going to be Akane’s boyfriend. And it is very interesting indeed that Akane wakes up just as Akaishi celebrates at first, having driven Azuma home. She says “Good.”

Good.

And frankly, Akaishi with Akane would be a great thing. Akaishi’s deserves some happiness for all he’s done in the show, having stuck by Kou almost since the first episode. Rarely does the show give him anything more to do but give advice or add commentary, or train Kou. He deserves better.

Of course the game doesn’t end this episode. Did you expect it to? Seishuu has a one-run lead in the seventh. Expect the next episode to be full of crises. It’s going to be excruciating.

The fansub group whom I’ve depended upon to procure Yumeiro Patissiere decided to drop the series, and the other group likes to wait awhile and then bring out three episodes at a time, which meant there’s been a hiatus in Yumeiro reviews here. I could always watch on Crunchyroll, but I doubt I could get decent screenshots that way. During the wait I wondered if maybe I should just drop the series, but now that a new episode has come out (plus two others I’ll get to soon), I realized I missed the silly series.

Not ready to get back to the contest yet, we get Ojou again trying to take Ichigo down a peg or two by challenging her to a valentine chocolate challenge. It’s not hard to get Ichigo to agree to things like this, just piss her off.

As usual, the odds are stacked against Ichigo, as Ojou imports expensive gourmet chocolate and makes a fountain out of it that people can dip candies and fruit in. But of course Ichigo, using more routine ingredients, comes up with an idea: actually remembering what Valentine’s day is all about. It’s about girls giving boys they like chocolates, at least in Japan. So Ichigo makes chocolates inspired by the boys on her team, rose tea chocolate for Hanabusa, black sugar for Andou, and …

This is one thing I like about the series. It tempers its sweetness with sly jabs. And, actually, not only does the black pepper chocolate go well with red wine, but Kashino actually likes it and wants more. And as the girls compete to a draw, the point is made that you don’t need to use expensive ingredients to make outstanding chocolate. It all happens during a fancy-dress ball, and in a cute little scene Ichigo gets to dance with all three of the boys. Glad to see Yumeiro back, glad I decided not to drop it.

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