Methodical and Unorganized
Baby Steps really is a sports series for both those with and without interest in tennis. Not in the sense that one can enjoy the series regardless of knowing the sport, which is still true, rather that Baby Steps really goes through the points needed to build up and show the sport each step of the way. It’s something which both understands its sport, and goes through the effort (and time) to show it. And that’s pretty great.
Really, what we get here is definitely gradually paced, but when you go in as methodical as this series likes to be, it manages to hit the right steady pace. Of course, this is put into motion by Ei-chan who’s previous “failed” tennis visit, and more over Natsu, weighs on his mind as he continues his general schedule for daily life. Fittingly enough his thoughts drift to this while at cram school, one of many ways for kids his age to prepare for the future. And stuck in his dome is Natsu, whose future is more than clear in her own eyes. From one thought to another, he drifts to his younger childhood, when he had his own amount of desires for the future. Desires he notes to have lost somewhere along the way, and importantly, not the desires themselves but the very act of desiring something for his future is what bothers him. Acting on this, he decides to start where he can and takes to running home from cram school.
Poor Ei-chan, the anime actually had him run all the way home, instead of totally failing to in the manga.
And with that determination in mind, the honor’s student makes sure to put in his fair share of time running in order to prepare for his next session of tennis, where we get to dive a little further into the sport. Like noted last week, the outside grounds of STC is full of many kinds of people who enjoy the sport, and play it for recreation. You’ve got your geezers and ladies, and basically all kinds of folk who find the time to hit the ball around a little. As simple as that. And of course, we get back to the inside courts where the academy’s “students” play. Those who wish to better themselves, and in turn, that which has caught Ei-chan’s eye. While his intention really was to get some more exercise, his curiosity was at least somewhat sparked. And it helps that Natsu seems to be a presence he really can’t seem ignore at the moment. So he’s ready to dive into the fun. When ones major accomplishment is not passing out, then they must’ve had plenty of fun.Moving on, we get an explanation on how the players are divvied into different courts depending on their skill level. We have the real talents like Natsu or delinquent seeming Takuma on A court, while Ei-chan finds himself totally off the courts and in the hallway, and with the instructor out to take a call, finds himself observing others. And really, it’s situations like this where Ei-chan’s charms comes forth. Due to his nature, he’s can be easily off-put when out his zone, but due to his general awareness, he’s just as quick to correct himself or at least attempt to in spite of Natsu’s (somebody his awareness doesn’t quite cover yet) disorganized attempts at helping him. And it’s in these moments when Ei-chan meets the moment where he gets the appeal of tennis. Honestly, this moment can apply to all kinds of sports, but for tennis, it’s in this moment. The moment when the correct elements line up, you hit the ball, and the sense is like little other. Your whole body which was put into motion swings at the ball just right, and it’s just great. If any scene needed to be done well with this episode, it was this one. And I honestly can’t say it wasn’t done the justice it deserved. This is where Ei-chans curiosity turns into a form of fascination.
Of course, this moment is short-lived with Takuma acting up in frustration, shooing off Ei-chan back into the hallway from the A court. Of course, this is how it’s meant to be, as the players play on their respective levels, but it’s totally noted that his anger is more than what would be expected over a situation like that. Ei-chan puts that on the back burner for a later time though, so let’s do the same. What he turns his attention more towards is putting a proper beginning to his time with Tennis, using the New Year’s money he’s saved over the year, buying a racket with which he bangs his cabinets with while swinging inside (as is tradition for tennis beginners), and overall is showing to put in quite a bit of both ground level effort and budding enthusiasm into the sport. This really goes further though when he uses the weekends in attempt to recreate the feeling of satisfaction he had when he the lucky swing of his. What I totally dig about this portrayal is how Ei-chan doesn’t make any attempts to cover that it’s more than frustrating to be as bad as he is, and it’s really not all that much fun you’re hitting against the wall with only sloppy shots. Still, that’s less of a deterrent to the kid than it is something he’s more than ready to work through it in his own unique way. Notes, and protractors, and thinking over every step he needs to be just perfect with his swing. Ei-chan is a strange guy, but it’s all charming in a positive way.Baby Steps has really set itself into a nice tempo here. I’m glad to see that we’re still very much sticking to the beat of the manga, and I can only hope to see it continue that way for as long as possible. It’s already great seeing all of this actually animated, but Baby Steps is a long journey, and it very much builds up on what it lays down. In other words. Ei-chan being Ei-chan in the start is already fantastic, but seeing Ei-chan be the Ei-chan of the future based on the Ei-chan of present would be an Ei-chan truly worth seeing.