Baby Steps Review

This is review number 300.

I’ve reached 30% of my goal and it took a really long time. Thankfully, I am still inching into my 1000 goal. I mean, seriously, three hundred anime reviews is a triumph for me. My life got really hectic and balancing my work with anything else is pretty hard to do. I think I have come up with a good way to balance them now though after sixteen failed attempts. Heh, this’ll be my seventeenth if this plan fails as well. It’s hard to do something you must and something you love together unless the thing you must and love are the same. Sadly, my work is not about anime. I hope it is and maybe someday I’ll have an anime related job but for now, just having a stable life is OK. At least The Pantless Anime Blogger is looking pretty good. I already have big plans for this site and I am working on them as we speak. Trust me, other sites will copy this idea as well just like they did with my review poll. That’s right. I said it.

Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is called Baby Steps. It’s a twenty five episode anime about a guy who becomes in love with tennis and he had the skills to become a pro after just two short years of playing the sports. It’s a pretty interesting anime but I do have my complaints. I also have a lot of things I particularly like so this is a decent anime. Let’s read on.

Story

This anime is about Eichirou Marou. He is a straight A student who managed to obtain high scores thanks to his amazing notes. He take down notes so accurately that even his classmates claim its better than the books. It’s not just that though, he also studies all the time where it almost consumes his life. So when asked with the question “do you enjoy what you’re doing?” Marou is completely stumped. As a change of pace though, he decided to join a tennis club so he can get a good exercise. He studies all the time so he needs something to exercise his body as well. Upon taking a local tennis club’s free trial, Marou is completely amazed though. The dedication of the players, their athletic prowess and the wonderful tennis matches all seem new to Marou. It started out as a sideline hobby but soon, Marou is looking to go pro after just two years of taking up tennis.

Taking the Pants Off

This is another sports anime from the Spring 2014 lineup. The third one I’ll be reviewing and I have been personally avoiding this one because I kind of got tired watching sports anime. While the first two were absolutely outstanding, something about Baby Steps just didn’t sit right with me. I guess it’s because of the rather unimpressive look of the title poster when I first saw it. I’ve seen a ton of Production IG anime and they basically get me like they know what I look for in an anime. The small nuances and the tiniest of details turn TPAB on. If a studio takes the time to make every small detail matter then I will be eating up the show no matter how crappy it may turn out. At first glance, Baby Steps seems to lack that. It doesn’t embellish the small details just by staring at the title poster alone and glancing it numerous times in its MAL page. My otaku gut is basically telling me to watch it at a later date. I think I skipped it four times in favor of other shows but they turned out crappy as well. I realized by now that my readers does know how to rank sh*t as the absolutely worthless are grouped in the middle section of the polls. Before the trend persists, I said why the hell not? Let’s gag my screaming gut and finally watch Baby Steps. Usually I love how an anime can crush my expectations and completely prove how wrong my assumptions were, this was not the case for Baby Steps. The animation is absolutely unlikeable and the plot is really the only thing carrying it. The story is pretty good but I absolutely cannot stand the animation. It’s right at the middle of laughable and insulting where you often can’t focus on the story at all. There are a lot of problems with Baby Steps that should’ve been easily addressed but we somehow ended up with a mediocre show with lazy animation and unsatisfying pay off. I know a lot of people liked this show though, hence the votes on the poll. But then again, you bastards voted for Black Bullet as well and that show sucked miserably. Baby Steps isn’t as bad as that light novel mishmash but there are a few easy elements to this really captivating anime that it somehow managed to screw up. It’s pretty disappointing.

The initial premise of the show is actually interesting. It’s about a smart dude who takes really detailed notes and he uses this skill to be amazing at tennis. He remembers how an opponent served during a match, where the ball landed and the body position and wrist movement as well then write those down in his notes to study later on. On paper, he is a beast if he can use these notes to his advantage. Of course, it’s not that easy. He decided to play tennis a week ago while his opponents have been practicing since they were young. In terms of experience, he lacks them tremendously. He seems to excel in skill though and like a good RPG, gaining enough EXP will grant him the use of stronger skills. The anime focuses on his journey from a straight A student with a body that passes out after ten laps to a highly skilled player everybody is watching out for. The journey is going to be tough but Marou is so mentally fit that even his inadequacies cannot break him. He will take it one day at a time. Aiming high, he’ll achieve his goal soon enough. Thus the title, Baby Steps.  This is a really interesting premise as theories on how to win is presented but the actual reality of the sports is much more unpredictable. Still, with a main character that doesn’t know how to give up, his journey to the top is something that’ll easily become personal as you root for him to finally get the glory he is seeking for.

This anime has three plot points that really just congeal into one story since the show just focuses on Marou’s journey. It doesn’t branch out to other players and this little tennis story really just revolves around one character. There are many dimensions to his story though and it does cover the entire twenty five episode run of the anime. The first plot point is about Marou and tennis. He is an interesting character because he is known for overdoing a lot of things. Studying intensely is just how he does thing He doesn’t know of any other way. Does he enjoy studying? Marou isn’t sure himself. Faced with this existential question, he soon found how interesting tennis is and slowly began to dedicate his entire life to it. The first plot point is about Marou putting all his energy into tennis. He started practicing on just one day but, upon realizing he needs to get better, he decided to train on weekends as well. It soon turned into a daily thing and his grades slowly start to suffer. He started at the top but then he dropped at number four and slowly declined some more. He is still a top student but he seems to be so consumed with tennis that he doesn’t care about anything else. It even came to a point where his parents started to worry. While they like how Marou has a hobby he enjoys, they still want him to enter a good college. He will only do that if he continues to study and attend cram schools. Marou has a counter offer though. He promised his parents that he’ll aim for the top with a deal they can’t really refuse. I don’t want to spoil it since it is a big part of the plot. Anyways, it’s a simple plot point. It follows his transformation from a casual player into a serious one with some various repercussions on other areas of his life. It’s interesting because he does fit the profile of the typical sports main character that is obsessed with the sports but his story feels a bit destructive. Maybe all sports anime just gloss the destructive notion of loving the sports too much but still, you can sense his growth by how he basically dropped everything for the sports he is growing to love.

The second plot point is about the basics and the training. Like any good sports anime, Baby Steps introduced the rules and the basics of the sports. After watching this anime, those random tennis matches I watched when I was half drunk gazing at Sharapova’s legs finally made a lot more sense. We were in the same boat as Marou who is also a beginner at the sports. The show presented the basic rules, basic stance and swing to return a ball, how to serve and volley, and how to control the ball. This is made easier to understand because Marou has this analytical way of processing things. He would understand the basics then propose this theory that gives us a better understanding of it all. The anime also doesn’t rush the explanations. It would let Marou understand a few aspects of the basics then introduce more to him that’ll overwhelm him. There are things like court coverage, long rallies, counter shots and more complicated stuff that turns this ideally simple game into a complicated one where the only rule is to land the ball on the opponent’s court. It presented how both mental and physical aspects are important to the game and how exploiting an opponent’s weakness is key to winning. Again, like a good sports anime, this show entices you to play the game and it does a good job at it with how we can relate to our novice lead character. It doesn’t stop at the basics though. This show also focuses on a lot of Marou’s training. It’s fundamental to winning matches, so Marou does it a lot. He started by perfecting his form constantly hitting a ball against a wall. He is such an obsessed freak that he didn’t stop until he is able to hit the same spot constantly. There are a lot of training scenes in this anime and it does outnumber the actual tennis matches. It has its good and bad parts but anyways, there are trainings that include visualization, good ball control by landing it on a specific number on the court and it gradually increases until Marou is basically doing a hell session workout. Hell workout is essentially a workout where you kill yourself by having only twenty seconds of rest per reps or something like that. The incredible part is that he is hitting such a hard workout after playing tennis for only such a short time. The training sessions are pretty sound and it gives you a good insight at just how dedicated Marou is at being better at tennis. He does show incredible results though that’ll convince his coaches to amplify his training. It’s a really wonderful thing to see him develop his skills because of the training sessions he undergoes.

The third plot point is about Marou and Natsu. I honestly don’t know where to place this. It does seem like a plot point but something I truly feel is not necessary. While Marou did decide to pick up tennis thanks to Natsu’s recommendation, knowing that these two characters eventually forms a close bond thanks for the sports is something remarkable. Natsu is this hot girl in his year that everyone likes and she is also very into tennis. She actually wants to go pro and she would share her aspirations to Marou. This would then motivate him to do great at tennis as well. There is this unexplained connection between the two that interests and annoys me at the same time. Natsu acts like this guiding light for Marou. Whenever he’s in a pinch, you can expect her to give some kind of moral support that’ll boost him right back up. As he becomes better at tennis, Natsu would also show some affection towards him which is like another form of payoff for those long training sessions. The problem is that it looks too simplistic for the show. Their relationship is a bit childish that it feels like an underdeveloped part of the story. There’s nothing meaningful here. It’s just the typical angle of the hot girl falling for the main character. It’s just filler moments of the two acting cute together. Natsu is also like this dumb airhead you want to die at some point. She does a lot of teasing and unintentional flirting that I don’t really understand. Where does all this flirting fit exactly in the entire spectrum of the story? You have a guy serious about tennis. He then spends his free time gawking at this hot chick? Combined by the awful animation, you often just want Natsu to stop. Just leave Marou alone to tend to his own life or something. Now, I am guessing this relationship does become an important part of the story. Natsu is aiming to go pro and there is this possibility she might not and this might give fuel to a more intense love story. I’m just speculating though but they better bang in the second season or something.

Along with these three plot points, the show is told in three chapters. The plot points are scattered all throughout and the show just focuses more on the three chapters. The first one is the theory vs. reality chapter. The initial premise is presented here. Marou’s note taking ability is matched up against his physically unfit body that urges him to be better. This chapter is just about the basics and the training until Marou is good enough to actually play his first match. Also featured in this plot point is the first seed player in junior high tennis who happens to be a fellow club mate of Marou. Our main character first tasted the bitter reality of tennis when he was forced to return a ball from the best player around. I think this is also where the show truly shined because under the immense pressure and the clear sign that he is outmatched, Marou is able to adapt. He put theory into practice to get himself out of a sticky situation. He does that a lot in the show and it’ll be the reason why his matches are so fun to watch. Once all the elements are presented and the groundwork is laid, the show then transitions into the second chapter.

The second chapter is something I call the seeded versus the unseeded. The first chapter ended with Marou participating in his very first tournament. Things didn’t go quite well for him as all his theories and plans were no matched against a more skilled player. Marou would then train some more emphasizing on his weakness and making sure it won’t be exploited again. After a year of enduring his training, a lot of people believe that he is poised to do some incredible things at the same tournament. With people recognizing his skills and Marou knowing his own abilities, he soon set his sights for the top. There are a couple of people blocking his path to the top though. Marou is asked to lookout for the top seeded players of the tournament. I’m not really sure how seeding works in the tournament since most seeded players still play the first round knockout. For now, being seeded means you’re considered the best among the rest. Marou has focused in on the top five seeded players knowing that they’ll give him more trouble than anybody else. The idea of an unseeded player also knocking off an established tennis player seems like a fun idea. He vows never to let his defeat from one year ago drag him down and focus on the challenge ahead. This chapter focuses on the various skilled players Marou will now get to face. I guess you could say that this is where the anime truly hit an exciting climax since all the boring trainings are finally over. Enough talking, it’s time to focus on the main reason we watch a sports anime: the matches. Each and every one that Marou had is all intense and interesting because of how the opponent is highly skilled and how he comes up with a game plan to crush it. Of course, these are the best of the bunch though so the matches are no cake walk. He had a taste of the first seeded player in the first chapter. He’ll know get a taste of the other beasts that dominate the court. From a player with different forms of ground attacks to a player with an unpredictable play style, Marou really dug deep to stay alive in the matches. He really worked his ass off in each match and it was a nice payoff after all that training. Of course, I have a few complaints but I’ll talk about that later.

The third chapter is about the All Japan Pro. The keyword here is “pro” as our lead would take the road to finally become a pro tennis player. The training got more intense and the opponents got more talented. In order to go pro, Marou decided that he must first win this national tournament that pits the best players of Japan against each other. The seeding gets re-arranged as people who were seeded in their regional tournaments aren’t even seeded in the national stage. It’s a brand new set of intensely talented and highly experienced players for Maruo to beat. He is just a guy who took up tennis just a short time ago and he’s now up against the best players of Japan. The All Japan Pro is really where his training would be put to good use. Up against a player that does great under pressure, one player that mentally psyche himself up to deliver solid returns and the best tennis player in the entire country, Marou will now have a chance to see just how he stack up against them. The road to success is not an easy one and Marou is ready to tackle it head on despite knowing he won’t last long in this tournament. If he wants to go pro though, he better fight hard and go down kicking and screaming.

In terms of the story, I really do think it’s a good one. The show heavily focuses on the road to success for Marou and gives us wonderful scenes where he pushes his best. This is a sports story full of Marou’s blood, sweat and tears. The intense training and all those scenes where he was up against a better opponent paints a really wonderful picture of an underdog striving to be on top. There is one problem though and I do think this one is unintentional. I believe the author never meant it to happen but if she did intentionally do it then she must really hate Marou. This story highlights Marou trying to better himself. It features all the low points of his tennis career and how he strives to beat the adversities. This anime, however, never focuses on the high points of his career. I find it unsettling that there were never a moment where you can just sit back and feel glad Marou is now an experienced player. There are scenes where his training would show results but it’s often in matches against someone better than him. He’ll feel great for a moment then the opponent would just dominate him and the story would fall back to him scratching and clawing his way to survive the match up. Those matches were he is clearly better than his opponents are never shown. They’re skipped. All the matches have him in a huge disadvantage. The show enjoys presenting all the moments Marou doubted himself and how he feels inadequate stacked up against a better player. The anime shy away though from scenes where he is truly above someone. He is a great player poised to do more great things but there were no moment of relief. It’s all pain and tears for the sports he love. It’s a bit unsettling because you want him to win. You want him to succeed. I don’t understand why Marou is never seen basking in glory for even a short time. Why can’t he raise his hands high for a win? Is it such a bad thing to let Marou feel good about himself? Now, to be fair, maybe it’s the anime skipping the victories on purpose. I’m not sure since I haven’t seen the manga but I feel a lack of pay off whenever the high points are blatantly glossed over. I think there is one underlying element to the story that we have to harshly accept:

The anime has no interest in Marou’s victories and triumphs.

This show just wants to highlight the blood, sweat and tears. This is a common thing in the anime. In the first arc, Marou’s goal is to be as good as the first seeded player and he practiced with him during their free time. The show never once gave us a good match between them where Marou is on equal footing even though he has the skills to match him now. Those practice matches are skipped. Why? It’s because the anime is transitioning to the second chapter. This is where four more skilled players are put in front of him. He lost a tournament once in the second chapter and he trained his ass off to be better. He entered another tournament and he dominated his opponents. We never saw him dominate. Instead, the same tournament is hyped again so there was no time to rejoice because Marou is put up against an obstacle as quickly as he can overcome one. I remember how he wanted to become good enough to get past the third round of any tournament and he finally did it in one random tournament. He got the trophy, he was number one and he was the best that day. We never even saw the trophy let alone a ceremony acknowledging he won. Isn’t that a little unfair? You root for the guy to win and yet the show never let him enjoy a victory. It’s always trainings and facing tough opponents. The narrative is a bit skewered. Why shy away from just one moment where Marou and the audience can feel good that all his hard work finally paid off? Is the manga just like this? It’s nothing but trainings and obstacles? There’s no moment of relief? That sucks. Unfortunately, something sucks more than glossing over a triumphant moment. I’m talking about anti-climactic wins. I don’t want to spoil more so I’ll just stop there. If you think seeing Marou never once taste victory is bad then you’ll feel nauseated when you get to the anti-climactic victories. I get a feeling the author hates the lead character and I can only wonder why.

bsteps2

Anyways, the characters are all pretty good. Marou is an interesting character all the way. From his skills to his never give up attitude, there are a lot of things to like about him. He is the type of character you would really want to cheer for during his low moments. He digs deep against strong opponents and it makes him a very likeable hero. The idea that he’ll one day surpass all these talented players is also the cherry on the cake. He tastes all the bitterness for now but you really wait for those sweet moments to finally come. I also love how he takes down notes so accurately. Even his opponents are freaked out by it. As for Natsu, I think she is like a poster girl for the series. I really don’t like her. She acts childish and it’s like she’s the only notable female character in the show. The anime was setting up a love triangle but I doubt it would mean anything. Marou has his sights deep of Natsu and this girl enjoys teasing Marou too much giving him the run around. As I said before though, these two have a connection of sorts that only they understand so it’s only a matter of time before they become official.

There are a lot of characters but nothing with a role as big as Marou or Natsu’s role. You can even argue that Natsu has a small role in this anime. It’s all about Marou and it does suck a bit because you were hoping to see the other cast deliver some moments of brilliance. Most sports anime gives us a lot of matches from the lead and the side characters. It’s disappointing to know that Baby Steps lack that. Any chance of fleshing out the character can only happen inside the court and, unfortunately, you’ll never see them in one unless they’re up against Marou. I do like the simple personalities the other characters have and the skill they contribute to the show. The first seed, Takuma Egawa, is a hot head that lost his motivation to go pro after battling someone better than him. He is still considered the best though with a crushing serve that no ordinary player can return. Being a club mate of Marou gives him chances to play a pretty important role in the story becoming Marou’s first rival. It is annoying how we never got to see a proper match between the two though. Marou is at a point he can play an intense match with Takuma and it sucks they never got to play. Another interesting character is Yusaku Miura, Marou’s coach. He doesn’t do much in the show except give our lead the proper training he needs. He is a pretty great coach able to pin point on Marou’s weakness and work on it. He also knows how to gradually increase the tempo of the training and it reflects with his no nonsense personality. It is revealed though that Marou will have a lot of coaches in the entire run of the story. Yusaku is the first one teaching him the basics and introducing him to trainings that covers his weaknesses. Other coaches focus on other areas so it’ll be interesting how they’ll help mold our lead.

All the seeded characters introduced in the second chapter are all pretty cool as well. The matches had your standard sports pacing to it where a well-placed flashback reveals more information about the opponents giving each match depth and a higher stakes for Marou to win it. There is the second seed, Hiroshi Araya, with his powerful legs and a player built purely on power. He is incredibly strong that he easily overwhelmed our lead and the flashback revealed how his training is actually focused more on strength than anything else. Marou had a hard time finding Hiroshi’s weakness and even then, the beast is so intense Marou had a hard time keeping up. The third seed is Hiromi Iwasa. He is an unpredictable player that changes style without any valid reason. I personally love his match up with Marou though because the whole thing is pretty close. Marou is able to out skill the guy but the match is still very close. The fourth seed is Ryou Oobayashi. He is the very first opponent of Marou in an official tennis match and this is where you can tell theory vs. reality shined. All of Marou’s plans didn’t quite live up to his expectations because Ryou is more experienced than him at almost everything. Still, he hung on strong and took the momentum against one of the top players around. The fifth seed is Takuya Miyagawa. His specialty is ground strokes and this is where Marou really showed his never give up attitude. Tennis is both a mental and physical game. This statement is proven greatly in Marou’s match with Takuya. Lastly, in the third chapter, we are introduced to the best player in Japan. Yu Nabase is the only skilled player introduced well in the third chapter. While others are featured in various short scenes, Yu is the one the show established as someone to look out for. He is incredibly skilled and he has the experience to truly be the best player in Japan. Think of the hardest RPG boss you ever fought and imagine it holding a tennis racket. The guy is just that scarily powerful.

At the end of the anime, a second season is already announced set to come out the same season as Kuroko no Basket 3, Knights of Sidonia 2 and JJBA Stardust Crusaders 2. The Winter 2015 lineup is already looking like a monster lineup with just the second season shows appearing in it. I, for one, just want to see Marou hold a trophy high so I will be watching the second season. They better not give us anymore glossed over wins and anticlimactic victories though because it would suck if you sat through two seasons of Marou never having a high moment. Anyways, it’s time to rip on the horrendous animation next courtesy of Studio Pierrot. There is really just one anime associated with this studio and that’s the one with the ninja in an orange jumpsuit. Pierrot is nothing without Naruto. You can tell by the low budget animation they valiantly stick to and the rather uninspired look of their shows. You ever meet a person who is so checked out he doesn’t even care if ants are crawling in his mouth? Studio Pierrot is just like that. I feel like they don’t care and they don’t want to put the effort. Sadly for them, they’re going to need the next Naruto anime to make them a noticeable studio so they better put the effort now because they might fade into obscurity. It happened to Gonzo and Sunrise is somewhat on the edge of that cliff so it could also happen to Pierrot as well. Of course, you can never count this damn studio out. They hit big with Yu Yu Hakusho and then Naruto. They might lack skill but they have EXP and one can only wonder what their next big hit would be. Still, for a studio so prominent, they should do something about their atrocious animation. It makes it hard to support them if they would give audiences animation equivalent to a used tissue paper. I’m getting off topic now. Another season of Baby Steps would be a good thing but again, it’s only worth it if he can finally raise his head high after a triumphant victory.

Sight and Sound

Character design is pretty decent. The ones you see in the anime are the same ones Hikaru visualized in her manga. I guess it’s a good thing that the anime is following the manga’s text book example but I do have some complaints. Character design-wise, they do look good. They have the same steady built and the proportions to make them look like skilled tennis players. Hikaru’s approach is simplistic. She doesn’t put much detail on her designs. The faces are all plain looking with an exception on those fierce eyes. The only thing with great details is the hair and that’s not really much. There is some range with her characters because the height differs and some characters look boxish compared to the usual bishie design but it’s not enough to truly make her design look amazing. It often needs more to truly make a character standout. For the manga, I do think the design is enough because the story can carry the whole thing. For the anime, I do think the use of dull colors and the way the characters look stiff is a big detractor to enjoy the show. The lack of muscle details, hair details and even those small mannerisms during matches make the characters look like cardboard cutouts lacking any real personality. I think the use of a brighter color palette and a more consistent design could’ve done some wonders in this anime even if they don’t improve on the animation itself. If there’s one character I wanted to like, design wise, I guess I’d be Natsu. She is the poster girl of the show but she doesn’t look pretty in the anime. She acts awkward, looks stiff and her sexiness is never accentuated. It was established that she was hot and, indeed, the right amount of details could make even her childish attitude look appealing. Unfortunately, the design is clunky never once aiming to making her look pretty or sexy. Even if they did, it’d just look sad. I remember how she once fought in those cute tennis skirts with her legs and shoulders exposed and nothing. She registered no emotional response. She didn’t look sexy or cute. She just looks awkward. Studio Pierrot really did a number on her.

Animation is horrible. Any chance of this anime being good would only be through the animation and it was actually the worst thing in this show. It is bad. I skim a few of the matches in the manga and they were paced pretty well. In the anime, the lack of a proper animated rally really made matches look hollow. Granted, the pacing is still exciting, some high quality animation should’ve been able to match that great storytelling. There are some well animated scenes but it’s inconsistent. Minor little details and mannerisms are lacking to make the characters look alive. When the ball bounces off the racket, the impact isn’t animated. It just bounces off as if hitting a wall. When the ball leaves the court, you’ll see lines indicating the balls trajectory. They can’t even f*cking animate the ball leaving the court. Certain scenes involve still shots of the matches and they often skip points for storytelling’s sake. When a character reaches for the ball in slow motion, he moves like a flash animated character going side to side. It’s embarrassing to watch this anime. The animation is so lazy that even making the eyes blink is such a chore. The characters don’t blink. The only thing moving when they talk is the mouth. Sometimes, it’ll just be the bottom part of their mouth with the nose upward not moving. Sometimes, the neck would be too big for the character and it makes them look awkward. Sometimes, the character’s head itself is off center from the neck when looking at them sideways clearly indicating Pierrot took lazy short cuts for the animation. It’s an embarrassing travesty. Production IG would go the extra mile by making bead of sweats roll of the characters body. We’re not expecting a Production IG animation from Pierrot but they should’ve at least made the effort. Here take a look at this:

Look at those f*cking paper dolls in the background. They even have their own positions and it’s so stupid I wanted to smack myself whenever I see them. I am a fan of animation. I seriously love moving drawings because I can feel the effort put behind it. You can tell if the animators really took their time to make something look amazing. Seeing the lazy animation by Pierrot really angers me. Don’t they have standards? I’ve seen small time studios do animation a hundred times better than this goddamn studio that’s been animating since the freaking 80s. Even the simple scene of a character standing looks awkward when they do it. Worst of all, Marou’s crown (that thing on top of his head that resembles a chicken’s crown) isn’t even properly presented in the show. It goes f*cking up his head not to the side inside of his hair! They can’t even do that. How f*cking lazy is this studio?

The anime’s OP is “Believe in yourself” by Mao Abe. I particularly do not like this song but my friend listened to it and liked it. She liked Mao’s voice but I find the whole song monotonous even with the uplifting lyrics. She doesn’t change gears and it ruins the song a bit for me as if singing only so it can end. The OP sequence features all of his trainings, of course, and this intense match against a random player. That’s my reaction at first but it turns out the opponent is his Florida club and roommate who will probably appear on the second season. You can see the animation being a bit clunky in the OP but it’s better than anything in the show itself. This is also the only time you will see Marou taste victory. The anime’s ED is “Baby Steps” by Babyraids. This is a pretty nice song. The singer’s voice is great and the solemn pace is nice to listen to. It’s your typical ED song but it fits the show nicely. It features Natsu looking cute, if you can call it that, then running around until meeting Marou in front of the tennis club entrance. It’s an ordinary ED sequence for me. Nothing really happened except Natsu looking like a lost puppy.

Overall Score

6/10 “This is a story of a boy who trains hard at tennis highlighting his trials and tribulations but never his triumphs.”

It had a great premise but it will make you feel impatient and a bit annoyed at the progression. I love a good underdog story but the show took it a bit too far. Along with the lack of great satisfying tennis matches and the subpar animation, Baby Steps is something you’d want to like but somehow keeps finding ways to disappoint you. If you’re a fan of the Sports genre then you should try this show out. If you like tennis anime then you’ll appreciate the direction this show took. If you like your characters winning then you might feel impatient with this one. A good sports anime highlights the highs and the lows and this one doesn’t balance things out. I do believe there is still some great content here despite my complaints so see for yourself if the anime suits you. Block out the laughable animation though, and focus on the gripping story the show has to offer. It will amaze you albeit disappoint in some areas.

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