The Best Episodes Directed by Masahiko Murata
#1 - The Interesting Giant Tower
Excel Saga Season 1 - Episode 5
To find out just how corrupt F City's officials are, Excel and Hyatt are sent to infiltrate City Hall, where they soon find themselves embroiled in a sea of deceitful, underhanded and downright crazy goings-on! But with the help of some Resident Evil-style hints scrawled on the bathroom wall, the duo just might be able to unravel the events going on at City Hall, not to mention add their own brand of chaos to the mixâ€¦
#3 - To the Other Side of Hell
Corpse Princess Season 2 - Episode 10
The true agenda of the Seven Stars and the Traitor Monks is revealed as the Catastrophe of the city creates Numerous Shikabane and The Corpse Princesses Fight the hordes. Only to collapse when their Contract bond is broken as Hokuto destroys a mysterious Casket.
#4 - Mundane Wish
Corpse Princess Season 2 - Episode 7
Inuhiko[?], Ouri's classmate smacks Kasuga in hopes of getting her back to normal, but Kagusa escapes and Inuhiko tells Ouri that Kasuga loves him. Makina hears of the incidents at school and runs there, and meets Kasuga who manages to trap Makina with the balloon curse and runs away. Ouri catches up with Kasuga who is about to get eaten by her "happiness". Makina defeats a shichisei but is knocked unconscious by another. Ouri makes an attempt to destroy the happiness monster with a Zadan Jutsu but fails. It is revealed that Ouri is believed to be the child of a corpse.
#5 - One Hundred and Eight Lies
Corpse Princess Season 2 - Episode 11
The secret to the Shikabane Hime's power is Revealed as it is the corpse of the first Shikabane Hime. The truth behind The Traitor Monk is told. The Shikabane Hime who collapsed Continue to fight. Hokuto Becomes a Shikabane Hime herself as Ouri and Makina find New power to continue the fight.
#6 - Beyond the Dead
Corpse Princess Season 2 - Episode 12
As the battle between Hokuto and Makina Continues it is revealed that Corpse Princess' Choose to Bond with their Monks and all the Princess' regain their power. Another of The Seven Stars is defeated and one gives up. The last Seven Stars escapes with Hokuto. Makina and Ouri decide to make a final decision on their Future.
#7 - My Mother is Immoral
Corpse Princess Season 2 - Episode 8
Kasuga Nozomi dies completely because she did not fulfill the requirements needed to become a shikabane hime. Only girls of a certain age group and under special circumstances can become Shikabane Hime. Makina wakes up in the Shichisei Headquarters and fights Hokuto excitedly. The shichisei reveals some plans and the kougonshuu reveals to Ouri that they believe that he is the child of a corpse. He loses control when he remembers his childhood, and the high priest Gon kicks him out of kougonshuu to relieve him of his job as a contractor priest. A small scuffle over Ouri's priest friends allows him to escape back to the orphanage. One of the shichisei, Huzuchi, is revealed to be killed by Ouri's "mother" and has a grudge against Ouri for being the only one left alive.
#8 - The Value of the Living
Corpse Princess Season 2 - Episode 9
Ouri learns of his mother being a corpse and more of his past. The Kougon Sect regroups as the Seven Stars commence the final action of their plan as Planes all over the city crash into buildings creating Countless Shikabane.
#9 - Nature and Regrets
Corpse Princess Season 2 - Episode 5
Itsuki fights a corpse and Ouri is shown a side of the shikabane hime he doesn't know. Rumours are heard that Keisei's body has turned into a corpse, and Sadahiro is sent to destroy it. Later on, Makina meets with "Keisei's corpse" but it turns out that it was the shichisei Ena. Ouri and Makina meet with Sadahiro and his shikabane hime in the forest; they all face the body controlling shichisei.
#10 - Monster Named Happiness
Corpse Princess Season 2 - Episode 6
Ouri and Makina fight Ena, one of the Shichisei. Ouri is shown to have a bit of Zadan Jutsu power, having entered the Kougonshuu. Meanwhile, Kagusa gets controlled by Touya, the "balloon monster" shichisei. Ouri and Makina confirm their contract but afterwards, the controlled Kasuga goes into Ouri's apartment and pushes him down onto the floor.
#12 - One Night
Corpse Princess Season 1 - Episode 11
The Kougan discover from surveillance videos that Hokuto is in the area. Aragami-san gives the intel to Keisei, upon which Makina shivers trying to keep her excitement and anger under control. Ouri is back at the orphanage for the time being since he is out of work. Keisei tells Ouri about how in his past, he was raised by Makina's father, and why he made the pact to be a contracted priest. The Shichisei Hokuto, Ena-san makes his move and targets Ouri by possessing him. The Buddhist Corpse of Shikusei Kowaku and the Traitor Asaka attacks Keisei and Makina at the temple grounds. Asaka escapes and Keisei pursues. While checking on the safety of the orphans, Keisei is stabbed by the possessed Ouri.
#13 - Hymn of Tragedy
Corpse Princess Season 1 - Episode 4
Makina is dispatched to assassinate Kun Osaki, a J-pop singer who became a Corpse after refusing to accept her death because of her wish to continue singing. Armed yakuzas are, however, instrumental in fending off the first attempt when an unknown monk warns Osaki's manager. Keisei gives Makina a hand in killing Osaki.
#15 - The Game Continues
Corpse Princess Season 1 - Episode 2
After several children killed in a highway accident come back to life as corpses, Makina is dispatched to kill them. However, Ouri Kagami gets in the way when one of them pleads to him to help her escape. Keisei and a band of anti-corpse monks assist Makina to take down the child corpses.
#16 - Funeral Program for a Contracted Monk
Corpse Princess Season 1 - Episode 13
Keisei's funerals are celebrated and Ouri decides to become a priest because now the only thing that his brother has left to him is Makina. He understands that the night of the Keisei's death has changed his life for ever...
#18 - Visualize the Pressure
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 18
Eiichiro thought he was successfully ignoring the crowd's roaring cheers for Ide, but his body was reacting to it more than he realized. The pressure of playing in front of a dramatic, Ide-centric crowd is troubling Eiichiro. What can he do to overcome this situation? Eiichiro wrote down the pressure he felt in his notebook and tries to face the details he has been ignoring. Ide is on his game as his crowd cheers on; what will lead to Eiichiro's road to victory?!
#19 - At the End of the Dangerous Run
Corpse Princess Season 1 - Episode 6
Makina defeats the SUV corpse after being assisted by Keisei. The rogue priest is revealed to be Akasha, a member of the Kougun cult who went underground due to his radical views of using Corpses as instructed. Keisei uses a cube filled with the blood of dead corpses as a shield to temporarily defeat Akasha, who retreats. The entire Kougun cult is shocked to learn that Akasha has resurfaced while contemplating plans to reinstate Keisei back with them.
#20 - Voice of Night
Corpse Princess Season 1 - Episode 3
Makina is tasked to hunt down an unknown Corpse responsible for killing off young women. Keisei learns that someone familiar with Corpses is using a doctor to conduct illegal experiments on dead bodies in order to turn them into monsters.
#21 - Traitor Monk
Corpse Princess Season 1 - Episode 5
A Corpse disguised as an SUV roams around the Greater Tokyo Area, killing off anyone who dares to enter it. Keisei tells Ouri the true nature of his job, which results in his suspension unless he kills Ouri. A new Shikabane Hime team arrives, namely Itsuki Yamagami and her contractor priest Takamasa Sougi, to deal with a rogue Kougon cult priest.
#23 - A First Match Full of Surprises
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 5
Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō's first match! This episode covers chapters 8, 9, and 10 in the manga.
#24 - Final Set
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 25
The game finally reaches its final stage. Eiichiro who desperately envisions a vision to win Nambae and is ready for a new strategy with the intention of losing. Nambae, who determined that Eiichiro when it was driven down from the past data, was dangerous, tries to strike early.
#25 - Unease on the Edge
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 10
The match between Eiichirō and Miyagawa begins with each holding serve. However Eiichirō feels that something is off. After studying his notes, Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō in the 8th game, the set will be all over. Instead of getting too depressed, Eiichirō changes his strategy and starts playing serve and volley tennis. The change of pace allows Eiichirō to win Game 8 and even it at 4-4, but will either competitor manage to break serve, and will Eiichirō be able to find his winning shot before it becomes too late?
#26 - Beloved Aberration
Corpse Princess Season 2 - Episode 3
Makina completed an Enkiri to get rid of the rotten rune. Meanwhile, Ouri is continuing training but Makina interrupts Ouri in the hot springs and demands to be released from the contract. She is then captured and put in prison. "Genpaku" Takamasa takes Ouri to observe one of his missions to kill a corpse.
#27 - The Contest Is a Fight
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 3
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.
#28 - Plan to be Forceful
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 15
Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō Araya's weaknesses. Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō studies all of Araya's shots from set 1 and realizes he can predict Araya's movements. Down 1-0 in set 2 Eiichirō finally manages to reverse Araya's counter shot and go up Love-15. How will this exciting match end?
#29 - The Speed of Evolution
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 8
Eiichirō and Miyagawa face off in the second round of the tournament for their second match. If Eiichirō loses he knows he'll lose all chance of going pro. If Miyagawa loses he knows his path to become a pro will take longer and might force him to go to college first. As the two face off both unveil their new weapons. For Eiichirō he unveils his dangerous serve while Miyagawa unveils some new counters that will force Eiichirō to adjust his data in unexpected ways. How many breaks can each get off of each other?
#30 - Fundamentals are the Weakness
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 22
Yu Nabae matches up with Eiichirō and realizes they really are two players that are virtually the same. He realizes that what Eiichirō lacks is experience with the fundamentals, as he has never played anyone like himself, and after losing the first set Nabae begins to pull away and goes up 5-2.
#31 - Risk and Possibility
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 11
After managing to hold serve Eiichirō starts looking for an opportunity to break Miyagawa. Both hold serve and force a tiebreaker. With the score 6-5 Maruo in the tiebreaker Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō's gamble makes Miyagawa think too much during his serve. He falls victim to a double fault, giving Eiichirō the match point opportunity on his serve. Seeing no other choice, Miyagawa makes a move to the net to catch Eiichirō by surprise. However Eiichirō's racket happens to be in the right spot for a return from short distance. Eiichirō'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.
#32 - Data for the Future
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 3
After winning his first match in America, Eiichirō finally gets to play Ike in a one set match. Ike gets it approved at the New Years party where many of Eiichirō's new friends first learn of Natsu. Eiichirō plays Ike and begins to collect data on what the players in the world of the Pros is like. On his final day in Florida the coach proposes Eiichirō and Alex play a 3-set match. Alex learns how fearsome the notebook can be as he is forced to change his play pattern after Eiichirō breaks him twice. Eiichirō wins Set One 6-2
#33 - Diamond in the Rough
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 6
It is down to the final match of the set. Eiichirō trails 5 games to 1, but with a determination to stay on the court as long as possible Eiichirō begins to push Oobayashi. Coach Miwa notices that Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō is unable to score a single point in the final match. Oobayashi learns this was Eiichirō's first match and begins to fear what Eiichirō will become if he is diligent with practice while gaining control and more muscles. The next day Eiichirō 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.
#34 - Nine-Square and Reality
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 7
In order to improve Eiichirō's playing, Coach Miura has him learn control on a 9-square court. After getting the basics done, Eiichirō is forced into a match against Takuma. Takuma realizes that Eiichirō has gained control but proceeds to show Eiichirō that control and good eye site is nothing compared to experience. Coach Miura then instructs Eiichirō and Takuma to continue playing each other as often as possible. 3 months after the Kanagawa Junior Circuit, Coach Miura asks Eiichirō to sign up for the Championship Match Tournament to see how much he has improved.
#35 - Improvement by Memory
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 12
After defeating Miyagawa, Eiichirō returns to STC for some training that will make him better in 1 day. Eiichirō is teamed up with a Coach Mike from Florida who specializes in pyschological training. Mike is envious of Eiichirō'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. Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō. 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. Eiichirō is confused by this and wonders how someone can draw pictures while playing.
#36 - Existence is the Driving Force
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 22
After beating Takagi, Eiichiro moves onto the semi-finals as does Natsu in the women's division. Eiichiro becomes aware of new feelings towards Natsu while watching her match. The next match is against the top tennis player, Nabae who has no physical or psychological weaknesses. While Eiichiro is troubled by what strategy to use, Takuma reveals Nabae's childhood weakness to Eiichiro. The battle against Nabae, the greatest opponent is about to begin!
#37 - Moonlight and the Sound of Waves
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 14
The final door on the way to the All-Japan Junior, the Kanto Junior Tournament, is just around the corner. Eiichiro psyches himself up as he confirms his promise to his parents that he'll give up if he doesn't win the All-Japan Junior, and then he sets off with the other STC members for Chiba, where the Kanto Junior will be held.
#38 - Dramatic by Nature
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 17
Ide's remarkable ability to adapt instantly to everything has Eiichiro struggling, and reads his notes again to regain his focus. This improves his movements and leads to more impressive rallies, making the match even more exciting. Neither is willing to yield as the match comes down to which player can manage to hold serve...
#39 - One Year and Twenty Notebooks
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 8
Maruo Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō is spending too much time on tennis when he drops out of cram school to practice more. Eiichirō 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.
#40 - Pro At My Age
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 17
Araya and Eiichirō 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 to be the end for Eiichirō as he loses 6-1, 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 Eiichirō returns to his bag he runs into an unknown youngster named Ike Souji. Ike asks to see Eiichirō's notes before running off due to an important phone call. However he asks Eiichirō to inform Coach Miura that he will soon be visiting STC. After the awards ceremony is held, the others vow to defeat Eiichirō in the All Japan Junior before Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō 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.
#41 - Consistency and Change
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 21
Eiichirō continues his practice and gets his next tournament schedule. As the last player to qualify he is placed up against the 1-seed, Yu Nabae. Eiichirō begins to look for weaknesses from Yu on tape, but what he finds is a highly adaptive style that could easily beat him if he doesn't come up with a few tricks.
#42 - Psychological Warfare and Self-Control
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 20
The match against Takagi begins. Just as Yukichi warned, Takagi's style is unique.
#43 - Face of Conviction
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 4
Eiichiro finds himself in a contest with Takuma. Eiichiro has fifty tries to return Takuma's serve. One successful return and Eiichiro wins. However, despite Eiichiro's best attempts to follow his notes and stick to the basics, he can do nothing against one of the strongest serves in the country.
#44 - Methodical and Unorganized
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 2
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.
#45 - Putting the Pieces Together
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 14
It is match 10 of a 1-set match, and Eiichirō leads 5 games to 4. Eiichirō begins to up his speed against Hiromi, and with it he stays even at 30-30. Just then Hiromi's legs cramp up, allowing Eiichirō to get two easy aces and win 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 Eiichirō 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. Eiichirō scouts Araya only for Araya to win 6-0 and then tell Eiichirō he will crush him in the next match. The semifinals are set to occur in 2 days time, so Eiichirō uses that evening and the next day to practice. Coach Miura tells Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō. Miyagawa helps Eiichirō realize that looking for an opponents weakness actually helps that opponent improve, so Eiichirō 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.
#46 - Determination and Presentation
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 18
Eiichirō investigates going Pro, but his reaction from his parents is less than he expected. Eiichirō 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, Eiichirō will turn his entire focus to studying. After gaining approval Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō to play a practice match with him during the remaining time instead of just hitting the ball back and forth.
#47 - Start With a Roar
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 10
Araya and Eiichirō begin their match in the Kanagawa Prefectural Final. At first both are holding serve and the score is at 3-3. However Coach Aoi realizes Eiichirō doesn't have the knowledge on how to deal with left handers since he's only played Araya once. Araya starts to target Eiichirō's backhand. To counter Eiichirō is forced to continually adjust his speed, making his center shots an easy target for Araya. Araya gets the first break and goes on to win set 1 6-3. However Eiichirō begins to return Araya's shots as the first set ends, making Araya realize Eiichirō is growing as fast as Ike previously did. Both realize they have to find a way to get massive breaks if they are to have any chance of winning.
#48 - Beast and Initiative
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 16
After going up Love-15, Araya uses a number of service aces to go up 3-1 in set 2. Eiichirō 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. Eiichirō 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.
#49 - Awakening to Simplicity
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 4
In his final day in Florida Alex agrees to play a best-of-3 match with Eiichirō. Alex realizes that Eiichirō's notes contain all of his weaknesses and that he will have to adjust his play style to win the match. Alex willingly loses the first set to get used to a new stroke, and Eiichirō is unable to fully take advantage of it in his data. As Alex's play style continues to evolve, Eiichirō realizes he will need to hit easy shots at the Pro to grow the most and find a new weakness.
#50 - Gathering of Rivals
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 13
The gang begins their third and final year of high school in different classes. Eiichirō and Natsu both realize their classes seem to be moving on without them as they are getting ready for cram schools and entrance tests. STC has their own sort of ideas though. The top clubs in Japan have gotten together and decide to have their top players rotate between the top clubs. Included in the group is Eiichirō, and Natsu's top rival is also involved. The practices allow Eiichirō to focus on changing pace at all times and give him more experience. The bracket for the All Japan Junior is announced, and in order for Eiichirō to continue his goal he'll have to defeat the fifth seed. As the episode ends Takuma arrives back at STC. He had advanced to the Top 8 in Japan and is signing a bunch of contracts. Eiichirō challenges him to finish their match. Takuma agrees but points out he is headed over seas next week, so they'll have to do it as soon as the signings are done.
#51 - Full Force Toward Adversity
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 12
Araya and Eiichirō prove to be even and are both unable to break each others serve. Making things worse is there will be no tiebreaker., Instead an individual must win by 2 games. As set 3 continues Eiichirō begins to rely more and more on his instincts as his mind tires, and it begins to give Araya the slightest advantage. Eiichirō realizes if he doesn't break Araya when it is 6 all that he will likely tire and lose the match. Even that knowledge doesn't prove to be enough. Araya holds serve and goes up 7-6. Eiichirō then holds serve and evens it up at 7, but his mind completely wears itself out, and Araya goes on to win 9-7.
#52 - The World and the Wall
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 1
Eiichirō arrives in Florida, and Coach Mike introduces him to Marcia, an upcoming junior whose older brother just made the Pro's. Marcia and Eiichirō play a match, and Marcia decides Eiichirō must be training for the French Open because of his slow play style. Eiichirō is introduced to his new dorm mates, among which are Alex O'Brien, the older brother of Marcia. The next morning at breakfast Eiichirō is welcomed by Ike Souji, and his dorm mates begin to see him as a rival since Ike acknowledged him. Eiichirō's dorm mates are introduced to his 39 notebooks of tennis. Eiichirō and Alex are announced as a match for day one, but Alex refuses since Eiichirō isn't a Pro. Ike arrives and promises Eiichirō's dorm mates that anyone that can beat Eiichirō will be able to play him in the next two weeks. Eiichirō plays Alex in his first official match at the Florida Tennis Academy. During the day he learns about the video cameras showing his technique and the resources of the many coaches available.
#53 - Tennis and Notes
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 1
Maruo Eiichiro is an honor student in his first year of high school. He's a very methodical person who keeps two sets of notes for class and focuses entirely on his studies. One day, Eiichiro decides to participate in a free trial at South Tennis Club (STC) because he needs some exercise. There, he meets school idol and sweetheart Takasaki Natsu. Eiichiro has taken his first step into the world of tennis
#54 - Resolve and Hell
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 19
Eiichirō manages to steal 1-point in the 10-minute match with Ike before his coaches reappear and make him stop playing a match. Afterwards Eiichirō is sent home to rest. The next day Eiichirō begins a brutal practice regimen that will recondition his body into that of a pro's. After 2 weeks of practice Eiichirō is invited by Coach Miura to come view some of the top seeds at the All Japan Junior. Eiichirō finds a fellow kindred spirit in terms of note taking and is shocked to learn he is the 2-seed. Eiichirō quickly realizes his data will allow him to control his opponents shots if his body gets conditioned correctly.
#55 - Meat Buns and Yakisoba
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 20
Eiichirō 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. Terashima is his opponent. Eiichirō shocks Terashima 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 Eiichirō he will have a week off before they do another 3 weeks of hellish training. He informs Eiichirō 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, Eiichirō helps his school perform their yearly cultural festival, a festival which ends up serving only to bring him and Natsu a little closer.
#56 - Takuma's Decision
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 5
Eiichirō returns from Florida and is given a day off to adjust his body to the time difference. After the day off Eiichirō begins a new strict training regime to help him get ready for the Kanagawa Prefectural. As part of his training Coach Aoi forces Eiichirō to challenge Takuma to a match. At first Takuma refuses, but when Eiichirō admits he can never go pro unless he can find a way to defeat Takuma, Takuma agrees to the match. At first Eiichirō is overwhelmed by Takuma's serves. As the game goes along though Eiichirō begins to serve like Takuma, shocking Coach Aoi. Coach Aoi stops the match unexpectedly, upsetting both Eiichirō and Takuma.
#57 - Good, Evil, and Rules
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 21
Even if it seems to lack etiquette, Takagi's play style continues to work in his favor by disupting his opponent's pace. Eiichiro struggles to deal with Takagi's tactics. He tries to use his anger to his advantage, but he isn't successful. Eiichiro tries to remain calm and rational but this leads to a time-warning issued by the referee...
#58 - Revenge at the Critical Moment
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 7
The Kanagawa Prefectural begins as Eiichirō faces off against Araya's new underclassman Nishimura. Araya has told Nishimura all of Eiichirō's weaknesses from the year before, making Nishimura very confident in his chances of winning. To counter this knowledge Eiichirō debuts his new serve and wins easily 6-0. Eiichirō then goes to scout Miyagawa, knowing he will be his second round opponent, but he arrives just in time to see the final point as Miyagawa wins 6-1, giving neither the knowledge of each other's growth in the past year.
#59 - A Vicious Circle is Lucky
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 2
Eiichirō begins closing the gap on the others at the Florida Academy, but during everyone of his matches he has one moment where he presses too hard, costing him a set and eventually costing him the match. Coach Mike takes Eiichirō to the video room and points out this pattern. He suggests Eiichirō find a way to remain calm during the match. If he can do so, he'll be able to reverse this tide. During one match Eiichirō accidentally trips, but while error costs him a point it awakens him to the world of repetitive patterns in tennis. By using a pattern he finds in the match, Eiichirō is finally able to win his first set in America.
#60 - Baffled by Intuition
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 9
Coach Ryuhei Aoi decides to teach Eiichirō the importance of relying on instincts during a match instead of relying solely on data. In order to teach him how to play against a player who relies solely on instinct Eiichirō is forced to face off with Natsu. Eiichirō takes the words that he can play at full strength to hearts content though and starts using the data he's collected in his head to target all of Natsu's small weak points.
#61 - A Hero and Loud Cheers
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 15
The Kanto Junior Tennis Tournament begins at last, and Eiichiro is facing Yakabe Tadanori in his first match. Although he had watched videos of Yakabe's matches from a year ago, Eiichiro is bewildered by his opponent's much taller stature and completely different play style, and all the unexpected factors lead him to consider blanking all his mental data and starting from scratch.
#62 - Aggressive is Ideal
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 23
The match has just begun and Eiichiro is already close to being in the zone. His excellent condition is reminiscent of his match against Ide; Eiichiro doesn't give Nabae a chance to fight back and soon takes the lead. Nabae is surprised at Eiichiro's aggressive play but remains calm and collects data by carefully analyzing Eiichiro's moves and attack patterns. However, Eiichiro's momentum is relentless. It seemed like he would take the first set when... l
#63 - Duty and Desire
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 24
Eiichirō runs to watch Natsu's match when he learns she is in danger of losing. Afterwards they return to STC where he Ryuhei Aoi, a man who will become his new coach. At first he doesn't trust Ryuhei's words, but he is even more shocked when Coach Miura says all of his training is being turned over to Ryuhei, and Ryuhei won't let him do any practice the next two days.
#64 - Reckless 100-Square
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 23
In an effort to try and reverse the tide, Eiichirō decides to go back to his idea of having 100-squares to aim for instead of 9. The precision allows him to begin winning some points, but more often than not Nabae watches balls go out and gets some easy points. How many games will Eiichirō manage to win against Nabae, and will he be able to gain a break?
#65 - Recklessness and Surprise
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 24
The match between Eiichirou and Nabae finally reaches its thrilling climax, and the former risks losing to envision his victory.
#66 - Diligence is My Style
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 9
Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō for the top scores. Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō 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 Eiichirō's weakness after watching one match. Match 2 begins as Eiichirō takes on the 52-seed Noborikawa. With no tension Eiichirō easily advances with a 6-1 win. After the match Eiichirō watches Miyagawa's match to see what his tennis style is truly like to get him ready for the 3rd round.
#67 - Whish, Then Fwoom
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 16
Eiichiro is stunned by all the cheering Ide receives as their match begins. He struggles with the unpredictable plays of the intuitive Ide, but he recalls what he learned in his match with Natsu and concentrates on watching his opponent. Meanwhile, Ide also struggles to keep up with Eiichiro's constant changes in tempo and starts to tune out the world as he tries to focus.
#68 - Eiichiro and Natsu
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 25
Eiichirō and Natsu go out on their first date. When Eiichirō asks Natsu what she thinks about him, she tells him he is cheating. Afterwards Eiichirō is allowed to resume practice. He learns how important it is for your ego and your subconscious to match up evenly. Coach Ryuhei decides the only way Eiichirō can meet his goals is to go to Florida during the winter break.
#69 - Choices and Explosive Power
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 11
Eiichirō throws out a couple of unexpected dropshots in set 2 and begins to alter the speed of his game. After trailing 30-love to begin match 2 of set 2 Eiichirō is able to rally with this new strategy and pull off a break. The break begins to build up Araya's frustrations, but instead of getting angry Araya yells at the sky and is able to calm down. Eiichirō stuns the crowd and wins set 2 6-3 to set up a third and final set. Araya acknowledges that Eiichirō's strategy is allowing him to address his weaknesses and actually get stronger as the game goes on. Over on the women's side Natsu easily wins the women's title 6-2, 6-0.
#70 - A Rude First Meeting
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 19
Eitaro, upon winning spectacularly in his fight against Ide, decides to go to the National Junior's. Coach Aoi explains that towards the end of the match, Eitaro was completely in the zone.
#71 - First Encounter by Scouting
Baby Steps Season 2 - Episode 6
Coach Aoi explains to Eiichirō that he stopped the match against Takuma because his body wasn't developed to serve like Takuma yet. If he had continued to serve that way, he would have injured himself and forced himself to give up his tennis career. In order to use his new weapon of serving Eiichirō is given strict training that will develop his arm muscles and increase his speed. At school the career counselors call for all seniors to determine their future careers, and Eiichirō lists his desire to go Pro, noting that he will turn to college if he doesn't win the All-Japan Junior.
#72 - Art and Technique
Baby Steps Season 1 - Episode 13
The match between Hiromi and Eiichirō begins. Everytime Eiichirō tries to go on the attack, Hiromi hits a shot Eiichirō can't reach. Hiromi goes up 1-0, but then Eiichirō realizes if he lets Hiromi complete his masterpiece and then returns the final shot, he will win the point. Eiichirō manages to go up 5-2 when Hiromi begins to increase his speed. Hiromi cuts it back down to 5-4. Eiichirō 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.