Except up until this point, Ei-chan still hasn’t win a game. Or has he? I’m on episode 7 during the time of writing this post.
I didn’t think I’d like Baby Steps. Firstly, the anime title doesn’t sound like something I’d watch. I mean, Baby Steps. What does it mean exactly? There’s no telling unless a person really sits down and watches the show. Or alternatively, read the summary. In my case, I find it odd, at first, to have a tennis anime titled as such.
Did I mention that Ei-chan is such a lame nickname? It’s like trying to make up for him being a straight-A student or something. A = Ei. Besides, whether one admits it or not, he’s a boring character. He eats, sleeps and makes notes of anything and everything. I still remember when I saw his notes on tennis. It’s super detail. His notes should be referred to as textbooks, not notes really.
Alright, alright. I’m not being fair here. I’m putting out lame excuses for not liking a show like this. But I love the series, although I’m might be saying this too soon. It really only has 7 episodes thus far.
Practice Makes Perfect
I love that Ei-chan (Maruo Eiichirō) took a huge amount of effort to be good in tennis. He’s not some random guy bumped into the tennis world and magically be good at it because he’s talented. Sure, there’s this thing about his keen observation skills, but it’s not an inborn quality. At least, I don’t think it is. He picked up the skills when he was little.
Like most main characters out there, Ei-chan wants to win. He wants to be good at tennis. The dream instilled on him by the cunning coach made him works even harder. And boy, did the guy trained hard. His repetitive training against a wall. His willingness to train longer hours. His addictiveness to wanting to be good at tennis. All these drove Ei-chan to keep practicing his basic strokes and be better.
What I love the most is we get to see him working hard and that all of his hard work is slowly paying off.
Like Chihayafuru, Baby Steps brings audience along for a growth journey with the main character. Hence, Baby Steps. Ei-chan started off as someone who lacks physical fitness and has zero experience in tennis. He joined STC, the tennis club, to improve his stamina. Well, a gradual liking to tennis and Natsu plays some role in his decision. But for the most part, he wanted to improve his physical state.
From thereon, we saw Ei-chan slowly growing from a person who fainted due to lack of stamina in his first visit to someone who played one of the longest matches in his first competition. That said a lot about growth right?
Also, he started as someone who doesn’t even know how to hold a tennis racket to someone who’s able to control the return of a ball. I personally think this is amazing stuff. This is unlike watching series like Kuroko no Basuke in which the characters are only building on top of what they already know about basketball.
It’s a very straightforward anime. No need to mess around and play the guessing game. Sure, we have someone like Egawa Takuma to deal with. But hey, his past was quickly revealed anyway. What I’m trying to say is that Baby Steps allows us to watch Ei-chan grow from the get-go rather than trying to guess what happened in his past. At the time of writing this, it remains as simple as possible. No wondering around what’s up with a senpai’s desperate need for a tournament cup or what happened to a team’s previous tournaments, and there’s no playing tennis for other people, so to speak.
Baby Steps isn’t about adrenaline rush as it is with most sports anime. It doesn’t really make you get excited about each match as with other sports anime. Heck, I couldn’t care less if Ei-chan wins or loses. All it matters is this: how far can Ei-chan go?
P.S Actually, I’m very impressed that when I google Baby Steps, most of the links in the top hits are relevant. I thought it may be the same case as Another.