Baby Steps Episode 23: Going out with a whimper
This week marks the end of the first phase of Ei-chan’s tennis career, and boy was it a painful goodbye to the…simpler days. I’m sure none of you expected Ei-chan to actually be able to win Nabae, it wouldn’t happen because it just isn’t in the spirit of the show to pull something off like that for dramatic impact against the show’s message of slowly climbing your way to the top.
Anyways, even with the harsh end to the game (will talk more about it later), we get to see glimpses of Ei-chan’s style surfacing here – like what he mentioned in the earlier episodes “With perfect ball control, you theoretically can’t lose” – and that’s what Ei-chan lives by. We see the beginnings of his 1-by-64 control technique. It’s a very risky call when you’re so behind your opponent in terms of skills, but it’s what makes Ei-chan, Ei-chan. He’s a good tennis player because he practices a lot and is clearly passionate about the game, but he has extremely admirable mental fortitude and bravery to pull off ‘stunts’ (should we even call them strategies? I don’t know, it’s your call, reader) others wouldn’t even dream of attempting…..it’s something we understand more about in later manga chapters (about say…..chapter 170 or so) regarding this ‘star power’ that athletes like Ike have, just a damn shame the anime will never adapt that portion.
Though, like Ei-chan, I was frustrated as hell when the umpire gave a bad call on match point like that. It’s not really that Ei-chan’s unlucky…it just happens. The world of sports is much more unpredictable than what most of us understand it as (it’s why Ei-chan’s Mom protested against it, too!), and I do think depicting this less forgiving aspects of the game was necessary, especially for Baby Steps that prides not on drama but on realism.
Those are basically my thoughts about the Baby Steps anime as a whole. I know we’re supposed to judge an adaptation as an independent entity, but having known about Baby Steps and where the story will take us (leaps and bounds better than what we’re getting here because Baby Steps just doesn’t know when to get better and better, damn it!) makes it hard for me to really judge the anime on its own. I do think that Baby Steps works better as a manga than an anime though, because the fact that it’s extremely dense with ideas and technical terminologies makes the story hard to feel /animated/ if you get what I mean. The matches are mostly propelled through internal monologue, not action….it’s honestly not the series best suited to an anime adaptation, especially when many people may even consider all this talking and thinking as (I shudder to even think people would feel this way but) NEEDLESS EXPOSITION (not that I can’t understand where they’re coming from of course). What I’m trying to say is that it works much better as a manga because you as a reader can sort of dictate the speed at which the match plays out, but you can’t do it with an anime. It’s also the reason why people think Aku No Hana’s anime was shit because it’s too slow (though that will be a discussion for another time, maybe).