So it ended in a way that most people thought it would, with Koh and Aoba officially beginning the relationship that everyone expected of them. But as for me...
I loved following Cross Game, if these entries over the last half a year or so are anything to go by. However, I think that this is one of those series that you'll love completely only if you completely love the main couple...and frankly, I'm sort of indifferent to them. I can believe that Aoba always had a crush on Koh, but turned it into 'hate' because he belonged to Wakaba. But the issue that really gets to me is that I never really saw a reason for Koh to start liking Aoba, because she always treated him so badly. Was it because she looked so cool pitching quickly in their first and only game as opposing pitchers? Or because she's really similar to Wakaba is many ways? Did he sense that her 'hate' was hiding something? Or is it simply that Aoba is the only one who will remember and commemorate Wakaba with him? None of these sit particularly well with me, and I still like Wakaba best, even though you could say she has been painted as perfect. I guess this is why Aoba never felt that she could live up to her.
Of course, Koh could have always preferred Aoba...but I really don't think he lied to Azuma about Wakaba being his first love. That would have made Cross Game way too similar to its illustrious predecessor, Touch.
A number of fans on Animesuki have already expressed their disagreement with the idea that Cross Game is a rewrite of Touch with a better cast and worse baseball games. Of course it isn't, in most parts. But if you think of Touch as a story that started with sibling rivalry that was thrown into disarray by the death of one of the brothers, then Cross Game is indeed its counterpart for girls. That was my very first impression of Cross Game, and it was only strengthened each time Aoba voiced her fears (by griping) about never being able to live up to Wakaba. Furthermore, just as the memory of Kazuya bring Tatsuya and Minami together, so too does the memory of Wakaba for Koh and Aoba. The main difference is that Koh really did love Wakaba (if we are to believe him), whereas Minami apparently always preferred Tatsuya.
In terms of the process, Cross Game does come across to me as the more refined work. Aoba's journey to come to terms with her feelings of inferiority and what this meant for her feelings for Koh was fantastic (yes, rather than the impression I had that much of the first half of Cross Game illustrates how Aoba comes to terms with the idea that Koh really was worthy of Wakaba's love. I can accept being wrong here, but more on this later). Azuma and Akane were believable rivals who kept me guessing at what Adachi was actually trying to do, as they both shifted to and from supporting the canon couple. And Koh and Aoba's complicated realtionship was clearly shown to be grounded in the heartbreak of losing someone they both loved, and all the wonderful memories they shared.
Nevertheless, I'm not convinced that Adachi-sensei has pulled this one off completely, mainly for the reasons I mentioned above. In some ways, I think it would have been more challenging to have finished with Koh and Aoba as friends helping each other move on through the shared memories of a loved one lost. Starting a romantic relationship based around such memories is somewhat...disquieting. But of course, that's just me.
I'll probably write a review once I've finished the anime, because they're really really similar.