Eiichiro’s first tournament is here, and he’s matched against the fifth seed! He may not realistically stand a chance, but he’s not going to go down without a fight, or without gleaning copious amounts of new information. After the tournament is over, he must determine what to do with what he has learned, both in competition and in practice.
And that’s pretty much all there is to this batch of episodes. Baby Steps has officially crossed the line into full “sports anime” mode. At least the series accounts for the lack of school by making it clear that Eiichiro’s now entered summer vacation. They’re also taking the time to ensure that the audience is aware that what’s going to win Eiichiro matches is not some kind of magical move or preternatural talent, but hard work, dedication, and concentration.
But who really wants to watch someone toil through hard work, dedication, and concentration for more than a montage? On the other hand, who wants to watch months in-story fly by that quickly? It’s a quandary, the solution to which Baby Steps will have to find in this next batch of episodes. Do I trust it? Mostly. The series has been able to get in, make its point, and get out thus far. I’d like it to prove that its characters are worth at least as much focus as its sport, however, and giving the audience repeated “telling, not showing” infodumps that Eiichiro is not privy to does little to accomplish this.
Visually and aurally, the quality continues to be only fair, with lapses sticking out like sore thumbs. I don’t expect this to improve, so I’ll stop mentioning it until the series finishes.