Laid to Rest on Sacred Dirt: Baseball as a Modality for Mourning in Touch and Cross Game
By L. McCarthy
Every year, 49 schools take part in the Japanese High School Baseball Championship, otherwise known as Summer Kōshien. For many, Kōshien becomes a symbol of youth and future prosperity, and that mindset is often reflected on in Japanese animation. Because animation is often a mode used to tell bigger, more complex stories, it opens the door to using baseball and Kōshien as means to express letting something go and coming of age. Mitsuru Adachi’s works, Touch and Cross Game, follow this example by using their main characters’ journey to Kōshien as a pseudo-funeral procession. They bring their memories of their dead to the fabled Kōshien Stadium, to bring them to rest on the field’s sacred dirt. By exploring the narrative structures of Touch (1985-1987) and Cross Game (2009-2010), we can see baseball being used as a mourning process, exploring the expectations and sacrifices one must endure when someone young dies very suddenly. While these characters are trying to come into their own as teenagers on the verge of adulthood, they are also given the responsibility of picking up where somebody else left off.