Cover of 1st manga volume of Baby Steps published by Kodansha, featuring Eiichirō Maruo and Natsu Takasaki.
|Genre||Comedy, Sport, Romance|
|Written by||Hikaru Katsuki|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Magazine|
|Original run||October 2007 – ongoing|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Masahiko Murata|
|Produced by||Kenji Saito|
|Written by||Katsuhiko Chiba|
|Original run||April 6, 2014 – ongoing|
Baby Steps (ベイビーステップ Beibī Suteppu?) is a Japanese manga series by Hikaru Katsuki. It has been serialized in Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine since October 2007. The story is centered around Eiichirō Maruo, a first year honor student who one day decides that he is lacking exercise. He then joins the Southern Tennis Club (STC) where he begins his tennis journey. An anime television series adaptation of the series began airing in Japan in April 2014. It also won the 38th Kodansha Manga Award in the Best Shōnen Manga category.
Eiichirō Maruo, a first year honor student, one day decides he is unhappy with the way things are and lacks exercise. He finds a flier for the Tennis Club and decides to check it out. He is instantly captivated by it. With no prior experience and poor physical conditioning, he embarks on a tennis journey using his smarts, dedication and work ethic. He uses his inherent studious nature to develop an extremely strategic approach to tennis, taking notes on the habits and tendencies of his opponents thus allowing him to predict their shots before they make them.
Southern Tennis Club
- Eiichirō Maruo (丸尾 栄一郎 Maruo Eiichirō?)
- Voiced by: Taishi Murata
- Eiichirō Maruo, also called Ei-chan (エーちゃん?) by his friends is the main protagonist of the manga, Baby Steps. He later becomes a member of Southern Tennis Club, STC on his mother's suggestion to fulfill his lack of exercise. His aim is to become a professional tennis player.
- Natsu Takasaki (鷹崎 奈津 Takasaki Natsu?)
- Voiced by: Minako Kotobuki
- Natsu Takasaki, also known as Natchan, is the main female protagonist. She is a member of Southern Tennis Club, and studies in the same year and high school as Maruo. She is aiming to become a professional player. Natsu is the exact oppposite of Maruo tennis-wise.
- Takuma Egawa (江川 逞 Egawa Takuma?)
- Voiced by: Daisuke Namikawa
- Maruo's first real rival, his aim is to be a professional. He seemed to have a crush on Natsu but that ended when she was getting very close to Maruo.
Ōsugi High School
National tennis players
|This section requires expansion with: serialization info. (March 2014)|
As of August 16, 2014, 32 volumes have been released.
An anime television series adaptation began airing on April 6. It is being simulcast with English, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles by Crunchyroll through NHK Enterprise. The series is expected to last 25 episodes.
- "Believe in Yourself" by Mao Abe (eps. 1–present)
- "Baby Steps" by Shota Horie (eps. 1–present)
|No.||Title||Original air date|
|1||"Tennis and Notes"
"Tenisu to Nōto" (テニスとノート)
|April 6, 2014|
|Eiichiro is a study prodigy who has tons of methodical notes that even the teachers envy. One day Eiichiro is looking at his schedule trying to figure out how he can exercise. That same day Natsu Takasaki arrives looking for help on an upcoming English exam. The class refers her to Eiichiro, who lets her have his original English study notes. Natsu accidentally damages the notes, but in order to thank Eiichiro she invites him to STC for a free tennis tryout as a way of dong his exercise. This episode covers Chapter 1 and part of chapter 2 in the manga.|
|2||"Methodical and Unorganized"
"Kichōmen to Ōzappa" (几帳面と大雑把)
|April 13, 2014|
|Eiichiro is unable to answer Natsu when she asks him what he enjoys doing most. He becomes interested in tennis and returns to STC for another free trial. This time, he meets Egawa Takuma, an upperclassman who's friendly with Natsu. For some reason, he acts hostile towards Eiichiro, which is very intimidating. As Takuma watches, Natsu teaches Eiichiro how to hit the ball. This episode covers the rest of chapter 2 in the manga.|
|3||"The Contest is a Fight"
"Kenka de Shōbu" (喧嘩で勝負)
|April 20, 2014|
|Eiichiro is unable to forget how good it felt when he successfully returned Takuma's serve, and he spends all of his time practicing against the wall. After seeing Eiichiro practice against the wall non-stop for six hours on a Sunday, Natsu predicts that he will quickly improve. This episode covers chapters 3 and 4 in the manga.|
|4||"Face of Conviction"
"Ganmen de Kakushin" (顔面で確信)
|April 27, 2014|
|Eiichiro and Takuma Egawa face off in a serving match. Eiichiro has 50 serves to try and return a shot from Takuma. At first Eiichiro can't even get to the shots, but slowly he begins to adapt and starts returning the shots foul. After 49 shots Eiichiro has adapted to Takuma's speed, forcing Takuma to change his serve on his 50th shot. As the episode ends, Coach Miura asks Eiichiro to have his first match in the upcoming Kanagawa Junior Circuit. This episode covers chapters 5, 6, and 7 in the manga.|
|5||"A First Match Full of Surprises"
"Hatsushiai ga Yosōgai" (初試合が予想外)
|May 4, 2014|
|Eiichiro is about to play his first match. He receives advice from the other STC members, but it only makes him more nervous. He doesn't get a chance to calm himself down as he's soon called to the tennis court. His first opponent is Oobayashi Ryo, a player with five years of experience, the assistant captain of the tennis team at Shonan Tech, and a top eight finalist in the prefectural tournament. It's finally time for Eiichiro's first match! This episode covers chapters 8, 9, and 10 in the manga.|
|6||"Diamond in the Rough"
"Mijuku Genseki" (未熟が原石)
|May 11, 2014|
|It is down to the final match of the set. Eiichiro trails 5 games to 1, but with a determination to stay on the court as long as possible Eiichiro begins to push Oobayashi. Coach Miwa notices that Eiichiro has sharp eyes and is able to predict his opponents next move when he is focused. The final match lasts close to an hour, and in the end Eiichiro is unable to score a single point in the final match. Oobayashi learns this was Eiichiro's first match and begins to fear what Oobayashi will become if he is diligent with practice while gaining control and more muscles. The next day Eiichiro returns to the Kanagawa Junior Circuit, despite having been eliminated, to study various tennis playing styles. Coach Miura notices him there and tells him if he really wants to improve, he should come to STC the next morning at 7 AM. This episode covers manga chapters 11, 12, and 13.|
|7||"Nine-Square and Reality"
"9 Bunkatsu to Genjitsu" (9分割と現実)
|May 18, 2014|
|In order to improve Eiichiro's playing, Coach Miura has him learn control on a 9-square court. After getting the basics done, Eiichiro is forced into a match against Takuma. Takuma realizes that Eiichiro has gained control but proceeds to show Eiichiro that control and good eye site is nothing compared to experience. Coach Miura then instructs Eiichiro and Takuma to continue playing each other as often as possible. 3 months after the Kanagawa Junior Circuit, Coach Miura asks Eiichiro to sign up for the Championship Match Tournament to see how much he has improved.|
|8||"One Year and Twenty Notebooks"
"1-nen to 20-satsu" (1年と20冊)
|May 25, 2014|
|Maruo Eiichiro continues his training at STC as he tries to master every shot. At smaller tournaments he begins advancing to the third round but is unable to go further. His mother worries that Eiichiro is spending too much time on tennis when he drops out of cram school to practice more. Eiichiro begins calling Natsu Nat-chan. After one year of playing Maruo prepares to return to the Kanagawa Junior Circuit and make it past the third round, but in order to do so he'll likely have to defeat three seeded players.|
|9||"Diligence is my Style"
"Majime Ga Sutairu" (真面目がスタイル)
|June 1, 2014|
|Eiichiro returns to the Kanagawa Junior Circuit. His first match is up against fellow high school student Koshimizu Nariyuki, a man whom is always trying to compete with Eiichiro for the top scores. Eiichiro is a little too tense and quickly falls behind 3-0 when he finds a note from Natsu at the back of his notebook talking about what to do if he feels too tense. With this help Eiichiro rebounds and wins 6-3, beginning a process that would take him into a third round match with 5-seed Miyagawa. However Miyagawa is confident and proclaims he has learned Eiichiro's weakness after watching one match. Match 2 begins as Eiichiro takes on the 52-seed Noborikawa. With no tension Eiichiro easily advances with a 6-1 win. After the match Eiichiro watches Miyagawa's match to see what his tennis style is truly like to get him ready for the 3rd round.|
|10||"Unease on the Edge"
"Iwakan to Gakeppuchi" (違和感と崖っぷち)
|June 8, 2014|
|The match between Eiichiro and Miyagawa begins with each holding serve. However Eiichiro feels that something is off. After studying his notes, Eiichiro realizes that Miyagawa has been studying his shots, and with a 4-3 lead he plans on making his move in the eighth game. If Miyagawa manages to break Eiichiro in the 8th game, the set will be all over. Instead of getting too depressed, Eiichiro changes his strategy and starts playing serve and volley tennis. The change of pace allows Eiichiro to win Game 8 and even it at 4-4, but will either competitor manage to break serve, and will Eiichiro be able to find his winning shot before it becomes too late?|
|11||"Risk and Possibility"
"Risuku to Kanōsei" (リスクと可能性)
|June 15, 2014|
|After managing to hold serve Eiichiro starts looking for an opportunity to break Miyagawa. Both hold serve and force a tiebreaker. With the score 6-5 Maruo in the tiebreaker Eiichiro decides to try and gamble to use his full stroke and steal a point. The gamble backfires and Miyagawa evens the score 6-6. However Eiichiro's gamble makes Miyagawa think too much during his serve. He falls victim to a double fault, giving Eiichiro the match point opportunity on his serve. Seeing no other choice, Miyagawa makes a move to the net to catch Eiichiro by surprise. However Eiichiro's racket happens to be in the right spot for a return from short distance. Eiichiro's miracle return gives him the tiebreaker 8-6 and the match 7-6. The crowd is shocked as the 5-seed has been knocked out.|
|12||"Improvement by Memory"
"Kioku de Shinka" (記憶で進化)
|June 22, 2014|
|After defeating Miyagawa, Eiichiro returns to STC for some training that will make him better in 1 day. Eiichiro is teamed up with a Coach Mike from Florida who specializes in pyschological training. Mike is envious of Eiichiro's notes and points out his notes will help him recall his shots faster, and that he only has 20 seconds to recall his best memories. Eiichiro is able to master this basic training of Mike, and in round 4 he defeats the 16-seed Terashima with relative ease. A broken string forces him to go to the tennis shop where he meets his quarterfinal opponent, 3-seed Iwasa Hiromi. Hiromi doesn't seem to have any interest in Eiichiro. After Hiromi leaves, the shop owner explains that Hiromi doesn't get to know his opponents in advance. Instead he learns and draws an image of them while they're playing on the court. Eiichiro is confused by this and wonders how someone can draw pictures while playing.|
|13||"Art and Technique"
"Geijutsu to Gijutsu" (芸術と技術)
|June 29, 2014|
|The match between Hiromi and Eiichiro begins. Everytime Eiichiro tries to go on the attack, Hiromi hits a shot Eiichiro can't reach. Hiromi goes up 1-0, but then Eiichiro realizes if he lets Hiromi complete his masterpiece and then returns the final shot, he will win the point. Eiichiro manages to go up 5-2 when Hiromi begins to increase his speed. Hiromi cuts it back down to 5-4. Eiichiro envisions his best match, the match against Terashima, and with that vision he comes up with a plan he believes will allow him to move on to the semi-finals.|
|14||"Putting the Pieces Together"
"Pazuru no Seika" (パズルの成果)
|July 6, 2014|
|It is match 10 of a 1-set match, and Eiichiro leads 5 games to 4. Eiichiro begins to up his speed against Hiromi, and with it he stays even at 30-30. Just then Hiromi's legs cramp up, allowing Eiichiro to get two easy aces and when the match 6-4. After the match Hiromi announces he is going to focus less on tennis and start drawing more on the canvas. However he tells Eiichiro that he appears to have the same desires to go Pro that a lot of the other top 4 do, even though he is currently only playing for the fun of it. Eiichiro scouts Araya only for Araya to win 6-0 and then tell Eiichiro he will crush him in the next match. The semifinals are set to occur in 2 days time, so Eiichiro uses that evening and the next day to practice. Coach Miura tells Eiichiro he needs to focus on his tennis style instead of trying to play to Araya's game and makes him take practice easy. The day of the semifinal comes, and Miyagawa comes to cheer for Eiichiro. Miyagawa helps Eiichiro realize that looking for an opponents weakness actually helps that opponent improve, so Eiichiro decides to ask Takuma what Araya's weakness is. When he finally finds them, he sees Araya whispering something to Takuma that could change the entire outcome of the future.|
|15||"Plan to be Forceful"
"Gōin ga Keikaku" (強引が計画)
|July 13, 2014|
|Eiichiro overhears Araya telling Takuma that if he loses to him this tournament, he will retire from tennis. His plan is to defeat Takuma and then announce he is going pro. Takuma agrees to tell Eiichiro Araya's weaknesses. Eiichiro comes up with 5 steps that give him the first game in a 3-set match. After going up 30-0 in game 2, Araya protests a point and receives a warning. However the protest allows Araya to get into the zone. Araya manages to win the next 6 games with ease and goes up 1-0. In set 2 Eiichiro studies all of Araya's shots from set 1 and realizes he can predict Araya's movements. Down 1-0 in set 2 Eiichiro finaly manages to reverse Araya's counter shot and go up Love-15. How will this exciting match end?|
|16||"Beast and Initiative"
"Yajū to Shudō-ken" (野獣と主導権)
|July 20, 2014|
|After going up Love-15, Araya uses a number of service aces to go up 3-1 in set 2. Eiichiro holds serve, and as he gains a 30-40 advantage in Game 6 of Set 2, Araya punches himself in his face to eliminate his emotions from the game. Both players manage to hold serve, giving Araya a 5-4 advantage in what could be the final game. Eiichiro decides to gamble and begins to predict where Araya will hit his shots. With the two even at 30-30, Araya serves knowing that whichever player wins the point will hold the advantage for the rest of the match.|
|17||"Pro At My Age"
"Puro de Dōkyūsei" (プロで同級生)
|July 27, 2014|
|Araya and Eiichiro end up at deuce after neither player can gain an advantage. An ace end up being huge for Araya give him the match point advantage, and despite his best efforts a lucky bounce proves t be the end for Eiichiro as he loses 6-0, 6-4. The finals are held between Araya and Takuma. Takuma plays to his best ability and once again prevails, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 to win the championship. As Eiichiro returns to his bag he runs into an unknown youngster named Ike Souji. Ike asks to see Eiichiro's notes before running off due to an important phone call. However he asks Eiichiro to inform Coach Miura that he will soon be visiting STC. After the awards ceremony is held, the others vow to defeat Eiichiro in the All Japan Junior before Eiichiro says he can't participate due to his low showings the year before. However he swears he'll get ready for the Inter-High. As Eiichiro gets home, he gets rewarded for his performance, but he shocks his parents when he asks them what they'd think if he decided to go Pro at tennis.|
|18||"Determination and Presentation"
"Ketsui de Purezen" (決意でプレゼン)
|August 3, 2014|
|Eiichiro investigates going Pro, but his reaction from his parents is less than he expected. Eiichiro joins Natsu at the first round of the All Japan Pro to watch the debut match of Ike Souji. Afterwards he puts together a presentation for his parents on going Pro and asks for one year where he won't have to study or attend cram school so he can make the All Japan Junior. Should he fail to win the All Japan Junior, Eiichiro will turn his entire focus to studying. After gaining approval, Eiichiro informs his coaches at STC, who come up with a hellacious schedule, both for practice and for tournaments, that will qualify him for the All Japan Junior. At the end of the episode Ike Souji appears to greet his old friends at STC, and after getting approval from his coach, manager, and doctor he gets 10 minutes of practice time with each STC member who volunteers to face him. When his doctor, coach, and manager disappear, Ike grabs a hold of the ball and asks Eiichiro to play a practice match with him during the remaining time instead of just hitting the ball back and forth.|
|19||"Resolve and Hell"
"Kakugo to Jigoku" (覚悟と地獄)
|August 10, 2014|
|Eiichiro manages to steal 1-point in the 10-minute match with Ike before his coaches reappear and make him stop playing a match. Afterwards Eiichiro is sent home to rest. The next day Eiichiro begins a brutal practice regiment that will recondition his body into that of a pro's. After 2 weeks of practice Eiichiro is invited by Coach Miura to come view some of the top seeds at the All Japan Junior. Eiichiro finds a fellow kindred spirit in terms of note taking and is shocked to learn he is the 2-seed. Eiichiro quickly realizes his data will allow him to control his opponents shots if his body gets conditioned correctly.|
|20||"Meat Buns and Yakisoba"
"Nikuman to Yakisoba" (肉まんと焼きそば)
|August 17, 2014|
|Eiichiro participates in a tournament after 3 months of hellish training. He learns about active rest while participating in the tournament and makes it to the final. Oobayashi is his opponent. Eiichiro shocks Oobayashi with how his game has changed and manages to win 6-1, 6-0. In all of his matches the closest game was 6-2. After the match Coach Miura informs Eiichiro he will have a week off before they do another 3 weeks of hellish training. He informs Eiichiro that this type of training will continue for the rest of the year, with him eventually getting down to only two days of rest inbetween. With a week off, Eiichiro helps his school perform their yearly cultural festival, a festival which ends up serving only to bring him and Natsu a little closer.|
|21||"Consistency and Change"
"Kenjitsu to Henka" (堅実と変化)
|August 24, 2014|
|22||"Fundamentals are the Weakness"
"Kihon ga Jakuten" (基本が弱点)
|August 31, 2014|
"Mubōna 100 bunkatsu" (無謀な100分割)
|September 7, 2014|
|24||"Duty and Desire"
"Gimu to Yokkyū" (義務と欲求)
|September 14, 2014|
|25||"Eiichiro and Natsu"
"Eiichiro to Natsu" (栄一郎と奈津)
|September 21, 2014|
|This section requires expansion. (July 2014)|
- "Yo-kai Watch, Baby Steps Win 38th Kodansha Manga Awards". Anime News Network. May 8, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- "ベイビーステップ（３０）" [Baby Steps (30)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- "ベイビーステップ（１）" [Baby Steps (1)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
- "ベイビーステップ（２）" [Baby Steps (2)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（３）" [Baby Steps (3)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（４）" [Baby Steps (4)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（５）" [Baby Steps (5)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（６）" [Baby Steps (6)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（７）" [Baby Steps (7)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（８）" [Baby Steps (8)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（９）" [Baby Steps (9)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１０）" [Baby Steps (10)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１１）" [Baby Steps (11)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１２）" [Baby Steps (12)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１３）" [Baby Steps (13)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１４）" [Baby Steps (14)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１５）" [Baby Steps (15)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１６）" [Baby Steps (16)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１７）" [Baby Steps (17)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１８）" [Baby Steps (18)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（１９）" [Baby Steps (19)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（２０）" [Baby Steps (20)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（２１）" [Baby Steps (21)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（２２）" [Baby Steps (22)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（２３）" [Baby Steps (23)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（２４）" [Baby Steps (24)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（２５）" [Baby Steps (25)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（２６）" [Baby Steps (26)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "ベイビーステップ（２７）" [Baby Steps (27)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- "ベイビーステップ（２８）" [Baby Steps (28)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- "ベイビーステップ（２９）" [Baby Steps (29)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- "Mao Abe Sings Baby Steps Tennis Anime's Opening Theme". Anime News Network. March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2014.