Before going in, I just want to say that if you haven’t watched the first episode, I highly recommend you watch it. I’m going to go through a bit of the spoilery side of the episode. Well it’s only the first episode but a big event happens at the end of the episode. I watched the episode completely blind and I think it’s the best way to experience it. With that said, let’s begin.
A few minutes into the episode, I noticed a few things different about this anime. Firstly, it’s the character design. The anime has a very old styled character design which I think fits perfectly with the tone of the anime. Secondly, the tone of the anime. It looks like a sports anime from the outside but in the first episode, it’s quite clear that this is essentially a love story. The main character, Kitamura Kou spends way more time with the ‘supposed’ main heroine Tsukishima Wakaba than he plays or even thinks about baseball. After knowing this, some might be turned off because they expect a sport anime but I personally like the approach. I mean, I don’t hate romance in anime so I can see myself enjoying the series.
Now if you’ve watched the whole episode, you’ll know that there is a big plot twist that happens during the latter half of of the episode. That’s right, the ‘supposed’ main heroine dies. It is a totally unexpected turn of event considering the light-hearted tone in the first half of the episode. However, I really like how the anime handles it. You see, there are actually two potential main heroines. Tsukishima Wakaba, the older sister who is the ‘supposed’ main heroine and Tsukishima Aoba, the younger sister who is the real main heroine. The first episode favours Wakaba way more than Aoba.
We are actually introduced to Aoba first but she has a very short screen time. When she is introduced, I Instantly like her mostly because I’m just a sucker for romantic couples who fight a lot. I thought it would be nice if the main character ends up with her. But then we are introduced to Wakaba and the anime hints us that she will be the main heroine, which is fine by me.
Throughout the entire episode, Wakaba is the focus of the story. We are shown that she has been in love with Kou for a while and Kou seems to reciprocate her feelings. We are shown how close they are and how good of a romantic couple they can be. At this point, we are quite literally forced to root for them, specifically Wakaba and I believe most of us are inclined to do what the anime tells us to do. But just when the anime forces us to root for Wakaba, the anime kills the character. Then, the anime tells us to switch our preference and root for Aoba instead, even though the anime doesn’t even introduce her enough. The audience are again inclined to root for this new real main heroine after the previous main heroine dies.
This is extremely brilliant! It can only be done if the anime purposely focuses one character over the other. If the anime gives equal screen time and focuses on both of the potential heroines, the audience would pick a side and will be divided after the anime kills one of them. Instead, the anime forces us to root for one, and then forces us again to switch who we root for. The anime technically unites the audience! Whoa I just realized that.
It’s important to note that both potential heroines need to be introduced as early as possible. The real heroine can’t just pop up in the second episode or even the latter part of the first episode because the impact won’t be the same. It gives a bit of a leeway for the audience to still choose a side. It just wouldn’t work.
I think what the anime does is just perfect. The way it makes us willingly submit to whoever it tells us to root for is genius. This is why I really like the anime and I’m really looking forward to see how it polishes the real main heroine and her relationship with the main character.
What do you think about Cross Game’s first episode?