vlcsnap-2014-06-29-20h44m41s202With every passing episode Baby Steps finds new ways to distinguish itself from all the other sports anime out there, this week choosing to tackle the psychological aspect of tennis, and the various ways this aspect manifests itself across different players. We may be watching one match, but we’re seeing it from two vastly different perspectives – through a thoroughly methodical Ei-chan, and through the ‘artist’ and Ei-chan’s opponent for the match, Iwasa-kun.

This is a very strange match indeed, on surface because of just how odd Iwasa is and how he seems to lack any drive as a tennis player and only seeks to ‘draw’ his pictures, but I do think it takes us too an extreme end of how the state of mind really molds a tennis player – a lot of us just don’t know the inner workings of a sport like this. I’ve been playing tennis for a couple of years now, and I still felt genuinely intrigued at where Iwasa’s match would take both him and Ei-chan.

vlcsnap-2014-06-29-20h41m27s55Despite all that is happening though, the series still stays focused and maintains that Iwasa may be an oddity of sorts, but he is still an opponent that Ei-chan needs to tackle by learning and adapting his own tennis into a different play style to win. Ei-chan figures out Iwasa’s drift pretty early on into the match, and uses Iwasa’s seeming lack of determination to win to rack up points once Iwasa’s done drawing on the court with the ball trajectory. There is a reason why Iwasa’s still such a highly ranked player, and Ei-chan understands this, so nearing the end of the episode (and nearing Ei-chan’s match point) Iwasa begins to get serious and do a counterattack of sorts.

vlcsnap-2014-06-29-21h14m02s143This is where the match got really interesting for me though. In Baby Steps (and in many other sports anime as well), it’s often not just about the protagonist we follow, but his opponents as well, and how they are influenced by Ei-chan and his play style. In this week I’d say it’s a bit different though, since Iwasa probably understood but perhaps tried to hide the fact that he may be just using the ‘drawing’ ruse as a facade of sorts to cope with his burgeoning love for tennis…? It’s clear that he’s on the counterattack by the end of the episode, but he states that it was because he wanted to draw more pictures, not because he wanted to ‘win’. There’s just a nagging feeling I have that suggests this probably isn’t the case, and hopefully next week we’ll see Ei-chan having a big part to play in helping Iwasa understand himself, his tennis and his art better.