What They Say:
Baby Steps centers on an honor student named Eiichiro Maruo who becomes frustrated with his life and decides to join the tennis club. Despite lacking experience and physical strength, he utilizes his studious nature to develop a strategic approach to playing tennis. Taking notes of his opponents’ habits and tendencies, he is able to predict their next move before they even react. He also meets Natsu Takasaki, a beautiful girl with a passion for tennis. With her help, he aims to become a professional tennis player.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having gotten some good time the last time around in growing the relationship a bit with Eiichiro and Natsu and having Natsu get her chance to play some in the tournament, it helped to expand the overall nature of the cast. Though the series really does follow Eiichiro heavily, as is expected since he’s the series lead, it also does some good things when it takes the time to expand on the others. Takuma definitely has become more complex as time has gone on and getting to know a bit more about Natsu has been good as well. For Eiichiro, it’s his interactions with both that expands him as well, so it feeds everything. Now, though, things are moving us back into tournament mode as Eiichiro continues to train and gets a feel for who he’ll be playing eventually.
Seeing the way so much time is spent on training is definitely good in general as the regular effort required is an important thing to see unfold as opposed to just showing up for things and having big moments in the actual game. The fun here before the tournament gets underway is having Eiichiro meet up with several past opponents and to see how they’ve changed in different ways. Since he’s still kind of an introvert, the others all stand out more, but it’s interesting to see how he’s a draw for so many and becomes the center of attention. Something that he’s usually not. It gets more amusing when Natsu shows up and is pleasantly friendly with him and the guys are all pretty surprised and have the expected kinds of grins about them, though they’re also very politely restrained in their commentary about it, which is great to see.
As the second half gets underway and we get some tournament material, it’s kept light at this point in a way as opposed to truly intense material. Eiichiro has grown well and is playing strong and competently here, though not taking it easy or being cocky about it. Instead, we get a bit with one of his previous opponents on the sideline with a minor flashback scene that shows his own time and how he’s grown. There’s some good, decent and brief pieces playing here and Eiichiro’s data collection continues on as well as he notes how Miyagawa has grown. Which is good, since Eiichiro is about to face him again as well. There’s some nice callbacks to previous opponents here in general, and while there’s no animosity at this point, there’s a pointed desire to change outcomes and to show how they’ve grown.
It is, frankly, solid sportsmanship here without all the overly dramatic material we usually get. And it’s exciting to watch. The show moves along pretty well here as we get into the tournament phase and see the competitions begin to align, which shows us Eiichiro’s growth as well as others. There’s a lot to like with it all because Eiichiro now feels like he belongs in this area and is a part of it. That’s made all the more so by the opening piece when he gets there and we see the way people he’s played against are drawn to him, but not in an angry or hyper competitive way but rather as a fellow comrade of the game. It’s a good thing and presents the near idealized way people wish sports were, or at least say that they wish it was like.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Apple TV via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.