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Baby Steps   
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Maruo Eiichirou (Ei-Chan), a first-year honour student, one day decides he's unhappy with the way things are and lacks exercise. His mother then gives him a flyer for the local Tennis Club, he decides to check it out and 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.


Related Series

Associated Names
Langkah Bayi
Маленькие шаги
خطوات صغيرة
เบบี้ สเต็ป
베이비 스텝

Groups Scanlating
Fallen Angels
Angelic Scanlations

Latest Release(s)
c.435 by Fallen Angels 8 days ago
c.434 by Fallen Angels 3 months ago
c.433 by Fallen Angels 5 months ago
Search for all releases of this series

in Country of Origin
47 Volumes (Complete)

Completely Scanlated?

Anime Start/End Chapter
Starts at Vol 1,Chap 1
Ends at Vol 19, Chap 181

User Reviews

5 topics, 14 posts
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User Rating
Average: 8.7 / 10.0 (730 votes)
Bayesian Average: 8.61 / 10.0

Last Updated
December 15th 2022, 11:14am



Category Recommendations





Original Publisher

Serialized In (magazine)

Licensed (in English)

English Publisher

Activity Stats (vs. other series)
Weekly Pos #502 increased(+96)
Monthly Pos #716 increased(+266)
3 Month Pos #1648 increased(+249)
6 Month Pos #1852 decreased(-45)
Year Pos #1854 decreased(-148)

List Stats
On 3707 reading lists
On 920 wish lists
On 107 completed lists
On 103 unfinished lists
On 496 custom lists

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User Comments  [ Order by usefulness ]
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By far the best chapter imo  
by MLGSwag
October 10th, 2022, 9:47am
Rating: 6.5  / 10.0
Chapter with romance 135, 182, 191,193, 209,210,233,234 (bestest) 275, 293,294,295,296, 297.5, 336.5, 355,356, 410-411,433
The manga is between alright and good, I like the manga, but sometimes after reading so many chapters at a time, it can seem like a chore to finish. Regardless though once u take a break and start reading again, u get hooked again. What I like about this manga besides the romance and how realistic it is, is how the Mc approaches his losses. Whenever he loses, I did not feel terrible he lost, you can forsee it from his matches. Another thing is he doesn't bitch about losing nor does he not become happy to losing because "he fought a strong opponent" like a typical shounen protagonist. What he does is after losing, he reflects on his play style and how to improve it. He uses his negative energy from losing and does something productive with it. Which I 100% stand behind. Overall this manga is good, I would say read it if you are in a mood for some sports, around chapter 150 when I got really hooked. But still I feel like a breather is needed by the amount of information that I'm being bombarded with

... Last updated on October 11th, 2022, 7:18am
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by tnwls523
October 2nd, 2019, 10:23am
Rating: 8.9  / 10.0
Wow that was a long ride but I love how consistent the characters are compared to Prince of Tennis. The plays don’t seem overblown and Ei really grows on you. Yes, it’s not very exciting or extreme in any way but I think that’s one of this manga’s strengths. With a solid ending to boot, couldn’t have asked for much more. Definitely worth a read if you’re looking for a good sports manga to pass the time.
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Just watch real Tennis instead  
by bahram
January 19th, 2018, 9:35am
Rating: 1.0  / 10.0
I don't really get the point of manga like this. 99% of it is just Tennis. The side characters are never developed and Maruo pretty much has no life outside of Tennis. At that point, why wouldn't you just watch the actual real sport? Go turn on your tv and watch the real sport instead

... Last updated on January 19th, 2018, 9:36am
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Top 4 romance manga in my opinion  
by Arkani
January 7th, 2017, 7:55am
Rating: 9.0  / 10.0
The title of this manga is pathetic. But it's absolutely nerve wrecking. I read it in only two days. It's completely awesome. If you think "oh it's sport manga - not interested" you should really reconsider. I never had interest in tennis and I encountered this manga just because I wanted something to fill the void of my free time. This is a manga that absolutely sucks you in and doesn't let go until you reach the final chapter and then notice it's still ongoing .... Please for the love of god - if you are looking for romance or sport manga this IS the manga for you.

Character: 10 - I love it. I absolutely love it. The guy is not badass (which my favourite type of guy) but is extremely hard working and I envy him for that. To see his progression you actually start to reflect your life and say "oh my god ... I didn't even try my best at things I thought I was". The girl however doesn't have much character progression but the story is about the guy not the girl. The girl however has a lot of influence on the guy and has more balls than he does.

Story: 10 - You've got to be kidding. This IS the manga for the story. Absolutely nerve wrecking, tension never lets go, author is not afraid to make the guy lose (which in turn makes his character progression absolutely amazing).

Art: 9 - I love it. No comment here - easy to read.

Enjoyment: 10 - I was sucked in .... until I reached the end of translated manga. READ IT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD (and I am an atheist).

Overall: 9 - Why isn't it 10? Because there is ALWAYS a room for improvement. Really can't recommend this manga more than I already do. Forget the title. Read it for the sake of reading it.
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Avoid the anime, go straight to the manga.  
by weltall2
April 5th, 2016, 2:23pm
Rating: N/A
I am commenting here as a normal person that does not know how to review manga as detailed as others. The first thing I will say is; Avoid the anime and I am going i detail of why, to help other people like me that are split between starting the anime and then going to the manga, or straight to the manga.. I am not saying this because the anime is bad, but because it will leave you on an unsatisfying cliffhanger. Obviously a lot of anime leave their watchers on a cliffhanger, but the ones I dislike are the ones that try to act as if they are wrapping up the story.

The anime ends with the usual and quite annoying "And they lived happily ever after" conclusion. Sure with some stories it works, but that is because the story before has already satisfied the watcher enough, so they just wrap it up. But with this one, it comes early. It could be an episode to early to a season, but it comes to early. A handful of anime try to act complete, when you really feel the story just starts. That't my two cents about it. Obviously I am commenting this with the thought that there will be no more seasons, but season 2 ends in such a manner that points out there won't be.

With that said, I want to say this is a wonderful sports manga, or more like a wonderful manga to read. Seems opinions are split on comments, but in the eyes of sometime that does not have real knowledge of tennis, or wants to watch a real life match, this is wonderful. To me this anime is quite realistic, but the only other tennis manga I can compare it to, is Prince of Tennis.

Prince of Tennis was awesome as a mixture of Tennis and Dragonball and of anything it delivered to me pure entertainment. I read manga after all to enjoy something extreme and not something that is just down on earth, and yet this manga does not fail. To me this actually does feel realistic, but that is because it does not seem to use too many special effects of superpower, but obviously this does not feel like I am watching a real tennis show. I do not honestly see why people would want to watch something that reflects 100% real life, but that is the choice of every individual.

I have to agree thought with someone I read and obviously experienced, which made me quite unhappy every time I felt it. The story has too many "sport montages". It skips parts of the story and games, ignoring some things that I would like to know about, even with a small detail. Sadly that makes the story feel like it is fast forward and it is quite dissatisfying.

All in all though, with all it's good and bad, I would suggest strong for people to first try a couple of chapters and then decide. This is feels like a manga that can be liked by a large audience, rather than something that only a specific type of people would enjoy.

There are some wonderful reviews here, and I am glad I read some of them. I agree with almost all of them, be it good or bad, but I feel the ones that see it as non realistic, are the ones that expected to read an 100% real story about tennis. If you are looking for that, I feel this will definitely not match your expectations, but if you are looking for something that mixes realism and fantasy in an enjoyable manner, meaning without making the story seem like it comes from Dragonball's world, I think this will satisfy it's reader.

... Last updated on April 5th, 2016, 2:26pm
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Baby steps saiko...  
by Pankaj Tiwari
November 27th, 2015, 9:01pm
Rating: N/A
Baby steps is really one of the best series i have read... its awesome.... best in every aspect... realistic,optimistic,motivating, and many more. I am a big fan of the writer. Wish that she completes the series as soon as possible. And so does the anime production. Eagerly waiting for the season 3... I can say that baby steps is a complete series. It doesnt lacks any thing so far. Well the climax matters a lot in every way.. so we will wait for that. But its the best series so far. I am pretty much confident that the writer wont disappoint any fan as always and continue to make us happy. I am rooting for u buddy. Keep up the work. Complete it in the best way possible and make many more. Arigato.. make us happy...

... Last updated on December 7th, 2015, 11:20am
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I don't see a single one of these bad reviews  
by Hell_Clues
June 24th, 2015, 5:12am
Rating: 4.0  / 10.0
so I'll add one. I've read plenty of sports manga. Few are the way these people seem to describe the majority. Even hajime is actually pretty much closer to reality. It's just effects. There's only one type of modern manga that's anything how these people describe and that's the various baki type(and it's not that modern). Honestly most old manga wasn't anywhere as unrealistic as people seem to think. Most of ashita no joe is fairly realistic, as is most of ganbare genki that I've read.

The praise this gets is so weird. I'm struggling to make it past the early volumes. I just don't feel it. I've never not felt it more than this except with stuff that's outright off putting like baki or that one girl mma.

If you truly want realistic, watch the sport. Especially since the reviews seem to say it only focuses on them. But really I was going to recommend all rounder meguro which is much better than this in every way. It's not realistic to not focus on how things effect other parts of your life.

Didn't this kid get superior eyesight from randomly watching trains out of nowhere... that rubbed me the wrong way.

There's also something incredibly generic about the designs. I don't usually care but the main character looks almost inhuman but not in a endearing way like the kid from that bicycle manga.

I've never had an interest in prince of tennis(and never ever want to) though I've watched the classic aim for ace so I can't compare the two.

There's something lifeless about the main character. I feel the opposite of most people, this story pumps him up too much. Maybe it's the same as other sports characters but it feels odd. He rubs me the wrong way. He honestly doesn't seem like a tennis player and more like he should be a manager. Plus wouldn't someone like this just have gone to a gym.

Now his whole life is about tennis. Look... that's normal for a sports manga but it comes off wrong here for whatever reason.

Some people say he comes off like an everyday person but he doesn't. One review said he can't see him much like a man or boy and then proceeded to say some stupid things about what constitutes that. I don't agree with the latter half but the way this kid thinks seems inhuman.

He also just moves too fast to playing seriously. Who picks up a hobby to get exercise and already does it so seriously. It's like the skipped a whole phase.

Green boy is a better manga even if it doesn't focus on the sport.

That's the general sentiment I have with this manga. It's not offensive but it's bland. It might be called rounded, but there are manga that do aspects of this better and are better for it! Being realistic, focusing on the characters, presentation, character designs, love, comedy, you name it.

The only claim to fame might be that it only focuses on the matches but I can't even reach that point because the beginning is killing me. It has been for years.

Well I don't think I can stop anyone, not sure if I'm trying. You can only experience how you feel about this from trying it. And like I said, it's inoffensive. But if you're wavering from trying it from what you know of it, I think you can safely put it at the bottom , it's a low priority. If you're thinking of giving up on it, I feel you.
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it doesnt get boring  
by CrossRyuu
June 14th, 2015, 3:52am
Rating: 9.0  / 10.0
as of the day i wrote/post this its already 347 chapters (raws) but it doesnt get boring and as you read the latest chapters youll feel like "this is just the beginning" there are still more to come its like an endless story but most manga that are longer than 300 sometimes get boring because it cant keep up the excitement but this one its so different i just hope the author finish this one with a bang cause most manga endings are horrible or "somethings missing" or "thats it i want more" or the author gets into an unfortunate incident

if you want a more specific explanation read below me snag21 says it all

Spoiler (mouse over to view)
if you want to know what happens next since its not in the wikia
maruo will lose to kanda but maruo will still continue his career with tennis and will go to america for 2months and meets the florida guys again with some new char and kanda too then they will enter a tournament in usa cant remember the name but maruo will lose on the second round. when he returned home he entered another tournament where ike souji will also participate i cant remeber the name he will win against a normal player and two pro players then next he will win the match with takuma thats until 347

... Last updated on June 14th, 2015, 4:05am
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One Step at a Time  
by SNaG21
May 5th, 2015, 3:54pm
Rating: 8.4  / 10.0
I honestly don’t really like sports manga. A lot of them that are super popular (Kuruko’s Basketball, Haikyuu, The Prince of Tennis) just don’t 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 “A’s” 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 Eiichiro’s 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; he’s a polite young man who wants to win with his own ability. Eiichiro’s 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 “power level” 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 that’s because we see how hard he works. He never pulls something out of his ass like “Misdirection Overflow” 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 don’t have low hanging balls like other sports manga characters do, making it more accessible for people who can’t 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. He’s no loser, but it’s not completely uncommon. Sometimes he is crushed; other times it’s a fluke; and other times it’s 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: it’s always tennis. If Eiichiro’s not playing tennis, he’s 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 I’m more invested in the manga because of it, but what about the characters? Apart from Eiichiro, I’m 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 Eiichiro’s opponents; I know them through the “in-match flashback,” and that’s 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. It’s not perfect, but it’s serviceable.

The one important character who doesn’t receive this treatment (and definitely should) is Natsu, the female protagonist and Eiichiro’s love interest. Natsu’s a very cheery girl who plays an instinctive tennis, opposite of Eiichiro’s, and she aspires to be a pro. That’s pretty much it. Natsu is super likeable and doesn’t 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, that’s 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 characters’ battles. It’s great that Baby Steps avoids this pitfall, but can’t we see some more Natsu?

Mixed - Passage of Time: For the most part, Baby Steps takes place during the times when tennis is played. That’s part of the reason why it’s all tennis all the time: it doesn’t really try to give a plot during the times when tennis isn’t 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 it’s 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. We’ll see some frames and then the score. That’s 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. It’s 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. It’s 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 can’t 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!  
by Janrocchan
May 3rd, 2015, 3:24am
Rating: N/A
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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