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Baby Steps  
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Description
Maruo Eiichirou (Ei-Chan), a first year honor student, one day decides he's unhappy with the way things are and lacks exercise. His mother gives him a flyer for the local Tennis Club and he decides to check it out. He's instantly captivated by it. With no prior experience and poor physical conditioning, join Ei-Chan as he embarks on a tennis journey using his smarts, dedication and work ethic.

Note: Won the 38th Kodansha Manga Award in the Best Shōnen Manga category in 2014.

Type
Manga

Related Series
N/A

Associated Names
ベイビーステップ
網球優等生
网球优等生
เบบี้ สเต็ป

Groups Scanlating

Latest Release(s)
v.26 c.246 by Imangascans (19d ago)
v.26 c.245 by Imangascans (27d ago)
v.26 c.244 by Imangascans (74d ago)
Search for all releases of this series

Status in Country of Origin
35 Volumes (Ongoing)

Completely Scanlated?
No

Anime Start/End Chapter
Starts at Vol 1,Chap 1 [Season 1] Vol 8,Chap 72 [Season 2]
Ends at Vol 8, Chap 71 [Season 1]

User Reviews
N/A

Forum

User Rating
Average: 8.8 / 10.0 (631 votes)
Bayesian Average: 8.69 / 10.0
10
 42% (262 votes)
9+
 23% (144 votes)
8+
 19% (123 votes)
7+
 9% (59 votes)
6+
 4% (24 votes)
5+
 1% (5 votes)
4+
 1% (5 votes)
3+
 0% (2 votes)
2+
 0% (1 votes)
1+
 1% (6 votes)

Last Updated
May 17th 2015, 7:26am PST


Genre

Categories

Category Recommendations

Recommendations

Author(s)

Artist(s)

Year
2007

Original Publisher

Serialized In (magazine)

Licensed (in English)
No

English Publisher
N/A

Activity Stats (vs. other series)
Weekly Pos #538 increased(+35)
Monthly Pos #294 increased(+12)
3 Month Pos #299 decreased(-27)
6 Month Pos #309 decreased(-69)

List Stats
On 3338 reading lists
On 753 wish lists
On 62 unfinished lists
On 332 custom lists

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Forum Posts
2nd Baby Steps Season Slated to Premiere on April 5 157 days, 17 hours, 16 minutes ago
Baby Steps Gets Anime Next Spring 598 days, 19 hours, 55 minutes ago
more life 697 days, 2 hours, 10 minutes ago

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User Comments [ Order by time added ]
 

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A tennis manga about ... well, tennis.   
Rating: 8.0 / 10.0
by Celianna
February 2nd, 2012, 5:42pm
Baby Steps is a great sports manga. That is, if you're only in it for the sports, and not for say, likable characters or drama between them.

Most sports mangas barely even focus on the actual sport, and crank the action up to eleven when they do. It's not about the accuracy of the sport, but it's about the drama of the player, and how their sad little emo back story gives them the will to go through and reach the top.

None of that is in Baby Steps. No drama, thank god. Of course, the drama is what makes a lot of people like sports mangas period, so these people will probably, almost certainly, not like Baby Steps.

I wouldn't compare Baby Steps to Prince of Tennis. POT is one of those 'drama' sports, which cranks up the tennis to eleven, and the further it goes, the more unrealistic it becomes. The story could have picked out any sport and it would still have been the same. Not true for Baby Steps. It's very calculating, smart, and most importantly real. It's about tennis.

The main character is not your typical idiot hero, nor the genius prodigy who excels in everything he touches. No, Ei-chan is someone who's so devoid of any talent, that he's only good at being average or 'good' at whatever he does, but he's not the best or a genius, or excels at something in particular. No, that takes actual effort and training.

No curb stomp battles here, tennis is real and the main character loses quite a bit of matches. Of course he does, he only started playing tennis for a few months, despite his ability to be good all-around (but not anything specific), he still loses quite a bit because he doesn't have anything he's really good at. This is frequently mentioned in the manga, where he's an alright tennis player, he doesn't have any definitive moves, or finishing moves.

About his personality, well he's like an obsessed data miner, and writes everything down in his notebooks. He has big eyes that are always wide open in shock, surprise, or simply from amazement. There's not much to the guy. Really, there isn't.

Any other character doesn't get enough screen time to show their personality, or backgrounds or whatever, just long enough to introduce them to the reader as they have another tennis battle.

Oh, despite what it says as a romantic subplot, that's like saying Naruto has a romantic subplot. I don't even know why they bother with it, because it's so casually mentioned in like a page or two, you wonder if it has any point to it at all.

So yeah, Baby Steps is about tennis. Not about the drama, not about overcoming the battle despite all odds, or about interesting characters, but just tennis.

I personally like it.
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Don't be put off by bad reviews   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by Blood_Wolf
September 1st, 2012, 10:15am
This manga is great. It has alot of realism, which I didn't expect to enjoy. Romance in this manga is slow, but it is there. Don't expect much to happen between volumes though since the main focus is the tennis, and Maruo's route to becoming a pro.

Art
The art is very good. At first I couldn't help but keep staring at Maruo's hair everytime it had his face in it. All I could think of is "why a rooster??" But after you get over that (or maybe it's just me) The art in the matches really gives you a sense of the speed and power of the shots or player's movements, or the speedcut for a drop shot.

Characters.
There are some great characters, with a variety of playing styles that Maruo goes up against. [From d3m0naras] "Every time he encounters a new tennis character, he'll lose. After training alot, he tries it again and wins by "luck" "
I disagree with this comment. Maruo comes across a new player with a different playing style. Ofcourse he's not going to always win the first time. You need to gather some information on the other person's playing style, and learn to read the moves. Maruo trains to come up with countermeasures (As would any tennis player in real life) and then applies them to his matches. That is Maruo growing as a player, not him being "lucky". But aswell as bringing in new characters, we get to look into their lives a little, and find out how important the match/tournament is for them, and their career aswell.

Story:
The story is amazingly engrossing, though this may differ from person to person. If you enjoy some realism, the character over coming obstacles (whether they be other players, or his own physique), comedy, a story where the matches will soak you in to the point that you may end up on the verge of yelling "cmon!!" when the Maruo makes a break at a crucial point, or just enjoy tennis. Then this is the manga for you. And if you don't like tennis, then give this manga a shot, since it may just get you into it like it did me.

Looooong story short. This is a GREAT manga. Just because it wasn't to the taste of a few others, doesn't mean you won't like it. So give it a read for a few chapters atleast.


Update:

As of chapter ~200 it seems the mangaka is developing the romance side of things a little further. Tbh I thought the slow development in this area would be something I would mark the manga down for, but the tennis action and story is good enough to have made me not care for that as much.

Art, Story, and Characters are all still well done. There are some long arcs (arcs may take the form of a tournament or in some cases a match) but they are deeply engrossing enough to prevent you being bored (for most of the arc at least). All else from the previous review still holds true.

... Last updated on May 19th, 2014, 3:29pm
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solid and realistic; what more could you want?   
Rating: 9.6 / 10.0
by Suxinn
October 30th, 2013, 1:19am
This is realistic sports manga at its finest.

If you're looking for exciting, shounen-esque competitions with the protagonists making ridiculously impossible moves that have cool sounding names, Baby Steps is probably not for you. I personally find the matches pretty intense and interesting, but it's definitely not at the level of Prince of Tennis (I don't think anything is quite at that level, actually, thank goodness) or other sports manga in its tradition. So, yeah, Baby Steps is not for you if you're looking for that kind of action.

Otherwise, it's a really, really good sports manga, emphasis on the sports. I'm constantly amazed at the creativity in which the mangaka constructs matches all the while remaining realistic and down-to-earth. It just goes to show that you can still make interesting characters and movesets while keeping some semblance of realism! It's obvious the mangaka really likes tennis and likes writing the matches because the main ones are always a lot of fun!

And one of the really good things about Baby Steps too is that it doesn't waste any time with unnecessary scenes. There are times during a match in which the mangaka will skip ahead a few sets because nothing really happens, and while this might be disarming for some, I personally liked it because it kept up the interesting pace and the realism all without becoming too boring or bogged down. Also, I really like how she describes Ei-chan's training but shows only the select, relevant parts of it. I've always disliked training arcs in sports manga, so I really appreciate Baby Steps' care in making them relevant but not altogether the focus.

The characters themselves are, like everything else, really realistic. But since this is a sports manga first and a character-driven manga second, the protagonist Ei-chan develops really slowly, though he does become really fleshed-out and likable. The side characters also get some slight development/cursory background story, but, while they are well-rounded characters, you don't really see that deep into their histories. There's definitely no cast full of superpowered humans with deep internal angst over tennis, nosiree. Most of the players just genuinely love the sport and want to win because they love it. That's it. And I really appreciate that.

Also, the slice-of-life moments have been really heartwarmingly adorable recently.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Mainly because Nacchan and Ei-chan are basically the sweetest couple ever. Wow.


So overall this is definitely a really solid, realistic manga that really doesn't have any major, glaring faults that I can see. Of course, it caters to a specific demographic, so not everyone will like it, but it's definitely a well-written piece of work, without a doubt.

... Last updated on October 30th, 2013, 1:20am
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Can't wait for next chapter..   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by SoY
February 9th, 2012, 10:44pm
It's all about tennis world, like a guidebook from amateur to pro tennis player.
1000% more realistic than POT, it have some good jokes, especially when the ei-chan makes weird faces.. lol, it also have a little bit romance in some chapter, good enough for refreshing..
Overall, a must read sport manga..
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Love it   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by LovinManga
May 9th, 2011, 8:45pm
I thoroughly enjoy this manga! It's one that I'd love to buy just to have it if I could get it here in the States. I like reading it so much that I go back and forth (much easier if it's on paper) between the pages and read them again and again. This is a very well written manga.

Responding to the main character being "weak", as one reader wrote:
I read the comment that one reader wrote that he/she thinks the male protagonist is 'weak'. I completely disagree. Just because someone takes notes and follows those notes does not make them weak. This is the same character that immediately started physical training so as NOT to be weak in the game, so I have to disagree with you. Look up V.A.R.K. Some people learn by seeing something (Visual). Some by hearing (Aural). Some by reading &/or writing the information (Reading/writing). And others by hands-on (Kinesthetic). Most people are able use all of them to some degree but most lean to one or two preferred styles - because that's the way we're made. It's how our minds are wired to learn and process information and everyone's brain is wired differently. It has nothing to do with weakness. Ei-chan (Maruo) would be a Visual and Reading/writing learner. He learns by seeing and by reading/writing. And he internally processes the information learned. It's why he does well in school. A Kinesthetic learner would have to do what that other reader suggests because he would have to externally, physically, 'do' the plan first to visualize it and learn it because that's how he learns and processes information - externally. Have you ever met someone who's great at sports and terrible in class? That person is probably not lacking in ability to learn nor in intelligence. He/she is probably just a Kinesthetic learner and unless they receive help, Kinesthetic learners frequently struggle in school regardless of their level of intelligence. So the next time you encounter someone whose learning style is different from your own, remember that a particular learning style doesn't have anything to do with either intelligence or strength.

... Last updated on May 9th, 2011, 9:28pm
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Don't follow the bad reviews   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by Natsumijojo
July 3rd, 2012, 12:52pm
It's really a good series, especially if your into spots manga, this one is very realistic in what they do, the Main character's personality is very enjoyable and its just an awesome read! Its my favorite spots manga, that's for sure! X3
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Good manga   
Rating: N/A
by goooo
March 16th, 2012, 8:51pm
Starts a little bit slow but once it gets into tennis, it shines. I like how you can basically see all the inner thoughts of the protagonist during a match as he tries to come up with legit strategies and counter-strategies. The character development has been good and am looking forward to reading more. Gratitude for all those scans!
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Don't trust the bad reviews so easily.   
Rating: 9.5 / 10.0
by bekyuubi
December 15th, 2011, 9:23pm
I got thrown off by some of the bad reviews from the start, but this is a manga that has none of the superfluous BS from POT.

The main character has quite a bit of charisma once you get to know his nature of working hard towards his goals. Not many people dislike others who work hard and doesn't brag about it. In regards to Liquidsin comment, I read up to volume 14 so I will like to point out some things.

- Ei works hard and manages to get a reasonable body that lasts just enough for 1 full tennis match. He even lost a long match due to lack of stamina.
- He has a great personality. He told his parents he wanted to stop studying for cram schools for a full year to concentrate on Tennis alone. How many 16-17 year old teens you know will do such a thing?
- He does gather data outside of the matches, but more than anything he does it in game against a strong opponent to reflect upon his mistakes and come up with a strategy for lack of experience.

Reading until this far, I felt that the pace is slightly slow and think that the rivalry section isn't right there yet. Looks like it will be really baby steps for a pretty long while.

Edit: Read up to volume 19 (with some really shoddy japanese knowledge). This manga is really quite awesome and makes you sort of cheer for the main guy. Can't wait to see more. Ahh, but it best be reading 10 volumes in 1 shot. This manga is slow...

... Last updated on December 16th, 2011, 10:23am
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One Step at a Time   
Rating: 8.3 / 10.0
by SNaG21
May 5th, 2015, 3:54pm
I honestly donít really like sports manga. A lot of them that are super popular (Kurukoís Basketball, Haikyuu, The Prince of Tennis) just donít intrigue me. Baby Stepssubverts all of that, making it one of the best sports manga I ever took the time to read.


Good - Great protagonist: Baby Steps follows Eiichiro Maruo, nicknamed Ei-chan because he gets all ďAísĒ in school due to his ridiculously meticulous nature. A chance encounter with Natsu Takasaki, a girl who is aiming to become a tennis pro, coupled with a desire to engage in physical activity leads Ei-chan to join STC as an amateur tennis player, often playing against grade schoolers. Over time, Eiichiro realizes his meticulous note-taking and powerful vision to his advantage. A growing love of the sport fuels him to practice hard and aim to become a pro.

While all sports manga necessitate that the protagonists have some talent, Baby Steps ensures that Eiichiroís talents are far from godly; Eiichiro must work hard day in and day out in order to succeed. As a character, he falls into more of the Ippo category, but while he is shy, Eiichiro is not timid or that self-deprecating; heís a polite young man who wants to win with his own ability. Eiichiroís hard work and realistic, relatable attitude allow him to carry the manga by himself.


Good - Avoiding the trap: The common trap of a shounen manga is what I call the ďpower levelĒ trap. When an antagonist of an arc is defeated, how do you top that? You introduce a villain with a higher power level (or a set of villains with a higher aggregate power level). This always ends up deflating any tension in a previous arc: how can the main characters have the same amount of trouble against both villains if one is stronger? More importantly, how can the main characters beat the villain? With a super new technique. This repetitive cycle of shounen manga decrees the final antagonist be Gods, and that can occur in many sports manga. Baby Steps avoids this because it develops Eiichiro within the sense of reason. Yes, Eiichiro gets stronger, sometimes during a match, but thatís because we see how hard he works. He never pulls something out of his ass like ďMisdirection OverflowĒ that doesn't even exist in tennis, always improving in a realistic fashion.


Good - Sense of tension: Have you ever seen a tennis match on TV? Have you ever played a tennis match? Any sport definitely feels different for the spectators than for the players, and tennis is one of the sports that has a huge difference. Shounen manga tend to slow down the action in order to feel the tension, and Baby Steps is no exception. However, over the course of its entire 200+ chapters that I have read, Baby Steps never loses that feeling in any of its matches. It is capable of keeping the tension at a realistic level throughout the entire series.


Good - About men but not manly: Many sports manga have to ignore the female side, and depending on the sport and style of the manga, it can often drip with glistening testosterone. Baby Steps pretty much only follows the matches of guys. These high school guys donít have low hanging balls like other sports manga characters do, making it more accessible for people who canít take the sheer manly musk of some sports manga.


Good - Not afraid to make its hero lose: Not really spoilers; Eiichiro does not win all the time. Heís no loser, but itís not completely uncommon. Sometimes he is crushed; other times itís a fluke; and other times itís because his opponent is that good. Losing is a part of life, and Eiichiro is no stranger to it. Unlike Ash Ketchum, however, Eiichiro is amazing about learning from his mistakes, and whenever he surfaces at a new tournament, all of his previous opponents note how much time he spent to provoke insane growth.

---

Mixed - All tennis, all the time: Baby Steps excels in not succumbing to the problems of other sports manga. One of the huge problems that can occur with a sports manga that has its characters in school is that it makes the sport a school sport, intertwining the two. This leads to a multitude of cliché school life drama or slice of life scenarios to pad the time in between matches, as well as giving a bunch of side characters too much screentime. This often adds unnecessary weight to a sports manga, making you wait with begrudging anticipation for the next match. Baby Steps avoids this by making the tennis tied to professional tennis clubs as well as the pro scene, ignoring any school life tainting of the sports formula. But at what cost?

Baby Steps goes to an extreme to solve the problem I just laid out: itís always tennis. If Eiichiroís not playing tennis, heís training for tennis, or talking about tennis, or thinking about tennis, or taking notes about tennis. This manga is probably written with the blood, sweat, and tears of actual tennis players. Having the sport is good, and Iím more invested in the manga because of it, but what about the characters? Apart from Eiichiro, Iím barely invested in anyone, because I know comparatively little about them.

It makes sense for me to know less about certain characters, like many of Eiichiroís opponents; I know them through the ďin-match flashback,Ē and thatís often enough; giving the characters some dramatic backstory would put a damper on any realism they have. They love tennis, and the manga brings out their personality through their playstyle and monologues. Itís not perfect, but itís serviceable.

The one important character who doesnít receive this treatment (and definitely should) is Natsu, the female protagonist and Eiichiroís love interest. Natsuís a very cheery girl who plays an instinctive tennis, opposite of Eiichiroís, and she aspires to be a pro. Thatís pretty much it. Natsu is super likeable and doesnít fall into any typical tropes for a heroine, which makes this hard to notice, but we know so little about Natsu, except how Eiichiro likes her.

The best way the manga could fix this is to give focus to matches that Eiichiro is not playing, but rather follow the matches of other characters and get inside their heads as they go against each other. Unfortunately, thatís also a way to kill the manga; focusing too much on the side characters can devolve into a Bleach situation, where we barely see the main heroes but always see 300+ minor charactersí battles. Itís great that Baby Steps avoids this pitfall, but canít we see some more Natsu?


Mixed - Passage of Time: For the most part, Baby Steps takes place during the times when tennis is played. Thatís part of the reason why itís all tennis all the time: it doesnít really try to give a plot during the times when tennis isnít played. So, through a montage (yes, training montages), the manga skips the drivel and goes straight to the next tennis season. But is absolutely nothing important? It often follows the trend that Ei-chan loses, there are a couple chapters about his tennis, and then itís the next tournament or next year or something. You sometimes see what the characters are up to during short side chapters. Baby Steps could put in some padding to make the passage of time seem so much less abrupt, and develop its characters! It skips the vast majority of filler and makes you like the characters more!

The other time when "fast forward" is implemented is during a tennis match. Tennis is a long sport, after all. Do we want to see Eiichiro own worse tennis players? Not particularly. Weíll see some frames and then the score. Thatís fine. Do we want to see every single return? No, of course not; each arc would be the length of a One Piece arc if we did that. So fast-forwarding is done to prevent us from getting really bored. Unfortunately, it is typically handled in the least graceful way possible; through a bunch of omniscient text boxes. Used sparingly, this is acceptable. In Baby Steps, it utilized to the point that over an entire set of a match can be *explained* that way. Itís far from awful, but manga should take advantage of the fact that it can simply show with characters and facial expressions and not always have to tell. More annoying is how Baby Steps sometimes wraps up a tense tennis match with a text box explanation, instead of us seeing the characters react and think as the Match Point is playing out. In the interest of expedience, it detracts from us connecting more with the match and the characters at crucial times.
---

Baby Steps is a phenomenal sports manga. Itís always engaging and keeps you on the edge of your seat since anything can happen. If you need a sports manga to read, you really canít go wrong with Baby Steps, especially if you love tennis.

Story: 9
Art: 8
Character: 7
Enjoyment: 9
Overall: 8.3

This review was originally posted on MAL.
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I like it so far   
Rating: 8.0 / 10.0
by CowTail
August 1st, 2012, 12:08pm
Main character improves at an unbelievable pace due to his hard work. It almost feels unrealistic to think that he's at the level he is after only 2 years, but if anyone put that much effort into it and had his tenacity then it'd probably be the same.

I'm at Ch.111 now, and even though the main character grows a lot, the matches are starting to all feel the same. There isn't any fancy, flashy shounen-ish combat moves in this tennis manga, thankfully, but I'm hoping the author manages to put some more variety in there to keep the matches interesting.

I love manga with character growth, and I like this manga.
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