From one sports anime to another…
Baby Steps tells the story of Maruo Eiichiro, a straight A student with a pleasant personality, but seems to pretty much have an OCD when it comes to keeping his things neat and tidy. He one day decides that he needs to keep his health in check and visits a tennis club to give it a shot, but runs into the school’s most popular girl that happened to borrow his notes awhile back?
Sidekick’s First Impression
Baby Steps is one of the most refreshing and unique sports manga I’ve ever read, and I was highly anticipating this anime adaptation. What worried me though, was the fact that we have Studio Pierrot helming the project (unlike Haikyuu!! that received star treatment from production IG) and that there was a possibility we wouldn’t get a direct adaptation off the manga, but an anime with some original content in. And we all know how anime original content is usually like…they’re bad fillers.
I’m happy to say that Baby Steps started out very faithfully to the manga though! In the first episode we’re introduced to Eiichirou ‘Ei-Chan’ – our protagonist of the story. Ei-chan is great. He is unlike any other male protagonist I have ever seen, and is a crucial part of what makes Baby Steps so good. He’s dilligent, attentive, organised, friendly…there isn’t much about him that doesn’t scream honor student. However, Ei-chan himself studies for the sake of studying. He doesn’t hate it of course, but sees it as something he needs to do for his future and nothing else. He also kinda acts like an old man that’s been through life’s ups and downs because of just how mature his thoughts can be. It’s for an entirely dumb, yet logical (for Ei-chan at least) reason that he decides to give tennis a try – he wants to keep fit. No passion for the sport, no inspirational figure he wants to follow, he just wants to keep fit. He’s basically just so much fun as a character really.
It’s with his weird but sensible choice of trying out tennis that he really gets acquainted with Takasaki Natsu, the most popular girl in school for obvious reasons – she’s really cute. There’s nothing that ever feels generic with this setup though, because Natsu herself is an interesting character. She knows what she wants in life, doesn’t have any annoyingly stupid traits that pander to the occasionally fetishistic anime watching crowd, and is all around a nice girl. She’s quite the enigma as well, but learning more about Natsu and what drives her is also part of what makes Baby Steps such a wonderful manga.
Of course, we’re talking about the anime here, so naturally the animation quality and sound must be discussed. First off, it’s no Haikyuu or Captain Earth in terms of quality. It doesn’t try to be, and it doesn’t need to be either. The animation does get the job done, although I did hope for a bit more fluidity and more dynamic shots during the matches, but it’s a miracle Baby Steps even got an anime adaptation (and a 2-cour one at that!) when it’s so different from what is now often seen in the landscape of the medium that I’m grateful for what Studio Pierrot got us. The colour scheme does fit the down-to-earth, understated tone of the entire series, so I really don’t have many complaints there. The only comment I have regarding the visuals is the character design. Ei-chan is cute, but his hair is horrendous. Couldn’t they have done a better job transitioning the manga’s style to the anime’s?
In terms of music we’re getting pretty standard fare too. It’s unfortunate, but the music in Baby Steps doesn’t stand out very much, despite /also/ getting the job done. I was hoping for Cross Game-tier soundtracks but…I may have set my sights a bit too high and far. Voice acting was just right though. Not much to say there.
I probably haven’t done a good job in making the pitch to potential viewers, because I honestly don’t know how. It’s hard to truly explain what makes Baby Steps a fantastic manga, but it doesn’t show what it’s really capable of until a little later into the manga, even with a strong start such as this one. I do suggest everyone try the first episode to see if you think it’s worth your time (it was definitely worth mine!) but do stick around. Even with such a solid pilot episode, Baby Steps can only go up in terms of fun. For all sports anime fans, please don’t overlook this because of the slightly underwhelming promo art and PV. It is without a doubt one of the best entries into the sports genre of manga, and I do believe it can do the same as an anime as well 🙂 Give it a shot!
Possibility of blogging: Giving it 3 episodes to see if I can handle such a large number of anime…otherwise I may have to drop this in favour of Haikyuu!!
Possibility of watching: Definitely! Baby Steps is still one of my top picks for the season.
Eva’s First Impression:
This show definitely looks better than I thought it was going to be. Like Sidekick said, it is going to have a slow start, but it seems to be worth it since as she said, the adaption has followed the beginning of the manga faithfully.
That said, while I can see people find the first episode boring due to how slow it kicked off, I did appreciate it because it gave us time to learn and understand what kind of character Eiichirou is. A lot of the characters joke how he sounds like an old man, which quite frankly is accurate as hell because he reminded me of my grandmother (who shares the same personality as Ei-chan). Eiichirou is someone who prefers having a schedule laid out and knowing exactly when to do what and is most definitely not a spontaneous person. He was at loss and felt out of his element when he went to the tennis club just to check things out, only to be thrown into group where they kick off right now. It took him a while join the flow, so I am very interested in seeing how Eiichirou will adapt to a spontaneous environment.
But one of the things that got to me was that up till now, Eiichirou has never truly ‘experienced the youthful life’. He doesn’t have any particular hobbies, nor does he have a passion. It is funny because most characters thinks he loves studying (that’s why his notes are so precise), but he doesn’t, he does it because he has to since he actually has trouble with schoolwork and isn’t actually the genius everyone makes him out to be. (I was quite shocked to see that it seems to never crossed his mind to sell the notes to the students…) It is just what his buddy had asked him, “Are you happy with how your life is going?”, Eiichiro has no idea. He is at loss because he hasn’t found anything that he enjoys yet. However thanks to Natsu, Eiichirou has been inspired to try tennis (for real this time) because she shared with him that she aspires to become a professional tennis player. So I am really excited to see how tennis will grow on him.
It is definitely up in the air whether this is something that I would like to blog because it has such a slow start. I think i would need to give three episodes as well, to figure out whether I would like to try covering it. Perhaps sharing will be an option.
Possibility of Blogging: Moderate (Giving Three Episodes)
Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed