A year has gone by, and Eiichiro is once again competing in the Kanagawa Junior tournament. He’s made a lot of progress, but his third-round opponent this time is Miyagawa, the tournament’s fifth seed.
And, uh…that’s it! Three seasons go by in a single episode, and all of a sudden it’s tournament time again! This show suffers from awful pacing, but the tennis manages to stay interesting, even though a flashback threatened to take even that away from me.
Baby Steps is, without a doubt, Eiichiro’s show. It’s a bummer his life is so boring, though. He practices tennis and studies offscreen, and his every conversation feels incredibly rigid. Any subtlety or promise shown in the first four episodes has been totally squandered. Natsu has a dream of becoming a professional? Why doesn’t Eiichiro watch her matches for once? And I don’t even know about this romance they’re shoehorning in. Or, well…it’s a romance other characters think exists, but we just don’t see it develop or even start from Eiichiro’s end.
As for the school angle, Eiichiro’s grades are finally starting to fall…from 1st to 6th, so no real impact there. There’s still a tiny opening for a subplot with one of his classmates, who has been competing with him in some sense, that could address his shift from the academic circle in which he used to exist. However, the scene they were given together may just have been meant to close that window. We still don’t know yet.
Yes, Baby Steps has lost its shine for me. I’ll go another few episodes, but unless it pulls out some serious stops, I’m not sticking around. It’s still somewhat effectively carving its own little narrative niche in terms of using and dodging tropes, but it’s just not giving me a reason to care. And the mediocre trappings aren’t helping either.