What They Say:
Baby Steps centers on a 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)
While it may have been somewhat inaccessible to new viewers as it just continued right on, albeit with a change in circumstances from the first season, getting back into Baby Steps is definitely a big, positive thing.Eiichiro’s two week adventure in Florida for training is the kind of eye-opening experience he needs in order to see a lot of different kinds of players, training techniques and the facilities as well just in order to get him to grow some. He’s made some decent impressions so far, particularly with his notebooks, but he’s also got plenty of challenges to face with the mix of players here, especially since there are a few pros in the mix that are keeping everyone on their toes while also growing themselves with more experience.
What’s interesting about this facility compared to where Eiichiro usually trains is that there’s a bit of sitting down and just talking about technique, which plays well for Eiichiro because of all his notebooks. But we also get some fun in seeing just the kinds of interpersonal interactions that exist as he’s trying to make friends but is struggling with Alex, who is the aloof type that also gets angry easily when he loses, which happened recently and has left a sour taste in his mouth. For Eiichiro, he does his best with all of this, but he’s also the type that spends his time focusing on what he’s really there for above all else, hence lots of studying and written practice regarding tennis techniques. It’s fun to see these little movements within the episode as it brings things together until we get him moving more into his fully fleshed out training program now that his instructor has “figured him out.”
Eiichiro’s training moves well, but it has an interesting angle that’s revealed in that what his real problem at this point is that he’s lost his confidence after recent events. This puts him in the same kind of boat as Alex in a way with the pressures he’s facing. Amusingly, Eiichiro just says that for himself, he simply needs to regain his confidence and move forward. Which is easier said than done, but it’s also rarely said. So what we get is Eiichiro trying to work through that as he plays in the practice rounds, which is a struggle for him since he’s trying not to be overconfident and is dealing with some solid players in the facility in general. It plays well to show the way things go, doing it in short form, giving Eiichiro loses and wins along the way, and really challenging him so that it doesn’t feel like he quickly bounces back with ease and moves forward from there.
Baby Steps sets Eiichiro on the right path after his recent issues and we see a kind of bond forming between him and Alex, at least from a distance, that could be interesting depending on how much time is spent here in Florida. Eiichiro’s time on the court is scattered throughout the episode and it works well to blend in the character material between him and other players as well as his instructors, as well as a few other small experiences. Tennis is the name of the game here though and it really does dominate so there’s not a lot in the way of fluff as it’s all in service of that. But it works well because there’s no goofy romantic subplot with a potential foreign love interest or something, or a real angry rival being set up for him to deal with down the line. It’s played realistic and very engaging, making for a great show.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
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