Baby Steps Episode 12 Recap – “Improvement By Memory”

that mikeApparently Americans are creepy…

Baby Steps Episode 12 Recap – “Improvement By Memory”

We pick up just after Eichiro has beaten Miyagawa, to advance past the third round in a tournament for the first time. As an addition, he’s finally beaten one of the seeded players that he’s been looking up to. Miyagawa tells him that he never thought he would lose, and Eichiro responds in kind saying that he never thought he would win either.

His next match is in two days when he faces off against the no.16 seed Terashima. If he beats the 16 seed, he’ll be in a matchup against the 3rd seed Iwasa. He’ll need to pick up some elements in his game however, as even though he won today, his own tennis was defeated. He didn’t get a single break point and didn’t dictate the game for most of the match. Instead of savouring the victory he heads back to STC to practice more. Naturally – it’s Eichiro we’re talking about.

Before he leaves, Coach Miura asks Natsu to accompany him and introduce him to someone named Mike. Mike is a coach and sports therapist from Florida who comes to Japan every once in a while. The joke surrounding him is that he adheres to the American version of personal space, which is way too close for Eichiro and Natsu.

Zen Eichiro
Zen Eichiro

Mike’s first direction is for Eichiro to remember the first time he met Natsu like a video in his mind. Get even the specific details like the season and the weather of that day. Next, they start off having a normal practice. Eichiro immediately finds that his rhythm is off. It’s because he was distracted by the memory of Natsu and wasn’t thinking at all about tennis. The show didn’t even have to tell me that, I figured it would go in that direction. 😛 Mike outlines the two reasons he ran that exercise; to demonstrate that 1) Eichiro’s tennis is influenced by his concentration and 2) his memory is really sharp.

Next he directs Eichiro to remember the moment when he was playing his best. Eichiro uses his recent win against Miyagawa to mine the memory from, and his game picks right back up. When he remembers his best play it’s easier to pull off the shot he has in his mind. Mike suggests that he build up a bank of these memories to rely on since you don’t have as much time in an actual game.

After another training day, his match against Terashima has finally come. Both his friends Kageyama and Sasaki from his high school show up for the match, but they find it’s already over. Eichiro has won soundly to the score of 6-2. Okay then. Seemed kind of pointless to build this match up at all. Production must be in a rush of something. It certainly showed in the animation this week.

Eichiro's next opponent Iwasa
Eichiro’s next opponent Iwasa

Since he is already done with his match, he makes a trip to the tennis shop to get his racket restrung. Waiting in the same shop is his next opponent Iwasa, also getting his racket restrung. He receives his racket and leaves without even acknowledging Eichiro. According to the woman working there, Iwasa didn’t even know that he was his next opponent. Apparently he doesn’t pay attention to that at all. He’s only concerned with getting to “draw a good picture on the court.” His parents are both artists so that could explain his fixation. So he’s an eccentric character, good. This show could use some more of those, as the characters are either bland or average. Not in a bad way; they’re not annoying or anything. They just don’t stand out that much.

The only honest complaint I have of this week’s episode is the dip in animation. It’s rather blocky and unfinished; looks like they hit some production costs. The animation was always cheap from the beginning, but it was especially noticeable today. Unless something drastic happens, I’ll be continuing to cover it into next season.

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