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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.244 by Imangascans (37d ago)
v.26 c.243 by Imangascans (74d ago)
v.26 c.241-242 by Imangascans (77d 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 (622 votes)
Bayesian Average: 8.69 / 10.0
10
 42% (259 votes)
9+
 23% (141 votes)
8+
 20% (123 votes)
7+
 9% (59 votes)
6+
 4% (22 votes)
5+
 1% (5 votes)
4+
 1% (4 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 #408 decreased(-12)
Monthly Pos #378 decreased(-69)
3 Month Pos #269 decreased(-59)
6 Month Pos #241 decreased(-66)

List Stats
On 3327 reading lists
On 751 wish lists
On 58 unfinished lists
On 327 custom lists

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Forum Posts
2nd Baby Steps Season Slated to Premiere on April 5 121 days, 10 hours, 44 minutes ago
Baby Steps Gets Anime Next Spring 562 days, 13 hours, 24 minutes ago
more life 660 days, 19 hours, 39 minutes ago

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User Comments [ Order by usefulness ]
 

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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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This is so cool!   
Rating: N/A
by Janrocchan
May 3rd, 2015, 3:24am
I can't wait for the next chapters. I finish it right now and I spent 2 days for this. I actually want to thank the author of this manga. Thank you so much! And btw, I really like nacchan. I think I'm in love with her. Hahaha please continue inspiring us. The fans of your manga. I will support you even more. I want to see Eichan and nacchan go to pro world stage. And make a family of their own. Thank you! When will you update the next chapters? Volume? I can't wait.

... Last updated on May 5th, 2015, 5:20am
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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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Love It   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by Z03L
June 18th, 2013, 8:49am
The first time I tried to read it I stopped after reading only a couple of chapters. Then later on, I decided to give it another try. Little did I know that I would go on to read through all the available chapters in one go and ever since then I have been keeping with this manga.

... Last updated on January 19th, 2015, 11:28pm
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Good for being a sport manga   
Rating: 6.5 / 10.0
by train93
February 8th, 2013, 4:19am
It's about tennis. It really is about tennis; not some supersonic tecniques used during tennis matches, just tennis (with few exceptions). That makes it the more enjoyable, even though it gets kind of boring after a while, but that's because it tries to stay as close to reality as a sport manga can, and I appreciate it. The characters are a little bidimensional, to be honest, but it's not that important to the story.
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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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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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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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Yep, good ^^   
Rating: 8.0 / 10.0
by slykid
March 30th, 2012, 1:39pm
Really good man....and I'm a hard view shoujo fan....because if this I finally realised how senseless all that stuff was and I kinda stopped reading mangas altogether (ok mostly is cuz I ran out).One negative is that It's good but too short, it didn't fill like how many volumes it said it has ...right now in just waiting for this along with my other 'unfinished' mangas .
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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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