Introducing Mike from Florida! Uh oh…
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)
Thought it may have gone on for a bit more than I expected or hoped, the series of matches against Miyagawa worked pretty well. Both of them learned a lot about themselves and each other and it had a good bit of growth and intensity to it. Miyagawa went in with a decent approach to learn about his rookie opponent but it ended up blindsiding him as it went on. Eiichiro, for his part, learned a lot with the help from Natsu in how she knew he’d get too wrapped up in himself to just let his body take over and play. So seeing him loosen up a bit, taking his knowledge and letting it just express itself, worked well to give him a slightly different flow to his game, to show more of what kind of player he could actually be. Still, he’s practically surprised that he won and the kind of off nature about him with that is cute to see.
Eiichiro’s win definitely is well received by his friends, which is nice to see, and we also learn how there’s some decent surprise about Miyagawa’s loss making its way through the other participants and watchers. For Eiichiro, he now has two days until his next match since he defeated a seeded player and there’s a slew of other games going on, which gives him time to watch and learn more of what’s going on in this tournament. But what happens instead is that the coach has Natsu take Eiichiro back to the facility where they’re going to introduce him to Mike, a trainer from Florida that even kind of weirds out Natsu. He’s a strong coach himself but also a sports psychologist that helps in other ways. He’s also a very close space kind of person, so he’s hands on with not just Natsu but also Eiichiro, which totally invades his personal space in a big way. He also gets to the heart of certain matters in other ways that’s amusing to watch as he freaks him out over Natsu.
The training that gets underway is decent since Eiichiro is still largely a blank canvas to work with and Mike definitely knows how to get into Eiichiro’s head to motivate him right with his moves. It’s a slow build at first, but when it clicks with the visualization and other aspects, you can see some good potential growth hitting quickly for him. As the show spends its time here and then eventually moves back to the tournament, we get to see who Eiichiro is up against next with a sixteenth seeded player named Hayato. He has a certain intensity to him which factors into the tournament at this stage. Thankfully, this match is done pretty much off screen and we see that he managed to crush his opponent, which reinforces that kind of quick growth and latent talent that he has which is being drawn out for all to see. The surprise others experience is great and you really have to love the way Eiichiro himself is kind of surprised by it all. It’s simple, cute and definitely fun to see how Eiichiro’s confidence is nicely growing alongside his skill, though there are naturally still hurdles ahead. Especially in his own head.
Baby Steps takes a couple of big steps here as it moves along, providing the closure part of his match with Miyagawa, a new phase of training with an amusing coach that ends up providing the right nudges for him and then a crushing win all done off screen. Sports shows are difficult when it comes to how they spread out their matches and Baby Steps is no exception. But it is smartly making sure that we don’t spend a whole episode on a single match that doesn’t register for anything important in terms of gameplay itself, just in the results and the impact of it on those involved and observing. The show moves along well here and it just leaves me wanting more of it to sink my teeth into and enjoy. With solid animation quality and designs and great pacing overall, alongside good characters, it’s a very engaging and fun sports show.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.