The Contest is a Fight
Pierrot is doin’ a splendid job sticking to the material with these episode, but surprisingly enough I find myself enjoying the small additions they’re including as well. And honestly, why shouldn’t I. It’s all very much fitting to the nature of the series, delving into the sport in more detail and largely from the point of view of Ei-chan himself. This guy who would search up “like” in a dictionary when confronted with the thought of liking somebody, there’s absolutely no doubt this is the type of guy who would have a glossary of tennis terms in notebook or be bothered by the odd counting system used in tennis. This is the kind of stuff worth having here. It plays to Baby Step’s strengths perfectly. The thorough look at the sport, the POV of Ei-chan who’s learning all of this from scratch in his unique way, and naturally taking it one step at a time, starting from the very beginning.
And here he is, truly going through the ropes of learning tennis from the very start. Something about this thorough depiction always gets me really happy, taking into account the details of the sport. We have what it means for Ei-chan to be practicing this much, which largely stems from his desire to not totally suck after knowing what is possible with effort. His effort for now is entirely focused on getting his standard swing as close to perfection as possible, observing his own form almost like pros would. But in a much less convenient way, and probably way more deeply than most anybody. But it really goes to show how much he won’t skimp on something, even if it’s something entirely new to him. More so, it’s something he now very much wants to understand and it’s that desire which drives him.
This seems to very much contrast with Takuma, who plays another part in Ei-chan’s continuous look at the world of tennis. With Nacchan, he gets the view of somebody who is absolutely dedicated to their future of becoming a pro. There’s no doubt that it’s what she wants to do. When it comes to others within STC, the kids very much have the aim of going pro, and it shows even in the sort of stuff they talk about (sport contracts and the like). So he get’s another viewpoint on tennis players and going pro. It’s something that very much fascinates Ei-chan, his curiosity and need to see things on a wide level shining through. So naturally, his poses the same question to Takuma, which only provokes anger in the individual. Ei-chan’s view of Takuma is a muddled one, knowing that he seems to carry a reputation as a delinquent and that he also has some serious skills in tennis, playing on A-court. But the reputation matters little, and Takuma can’t help but get pissed for whatever mysterious reason. Which in turn activates Ei-chan’s need to understand the situation, treating Takuma like he would anybody else. Once again, it’s a clear process Ei-chan is working through mentally when it comes to tennis, and it’s such a joy to see in motion.
Even if Studio Pierrot may not have the best looking show on their hands here. Passable, looking at the three episode, but a little off at times. I don’t recall Coach Miura’s nose being quite so big in the manga. Even if it could take up a double page spread or few. But it makes up for it with having taken the absolutely best sort of pace for the series, which is definitely a gradual one. This is almost essential for Baby Steps, which is all about taking a realistic as possible take on a kid like this starting tennis and getting into it. Moving into a sport at his age is already something unlikely to work out, so taking the time needed to put every piece into perspective is something the series has to do. Ei-chan’s progress needs to be both gradual yet impressive considering his experience. One month in, he will absolutely lose to elementary school brats, but at the same time impress the coach with how far he’s come in just one month. You see how much he puts himself into tennis, not just in amount of practice which will no doubt leave him incredibly sore, but in all kinds of varied aspects of it. From technical details, to his constant observations… his first dive into tennis is just on the surface, but it’s really taking in every drop you have on that level. He can’t even handle a live ball yet, but Nacchan word’s ring true. If he keeps this up, he could really have what it takes to be “really good”