Living Tool (生きた道具 Ikita Dōgu) is the 166th chapter of manga, Baby Steps.
Characters in Order of AppearanceEdit
- Natsu Takasaki
- Eiichiro Maruo
- Yu Nabae
- Ryuhei Aoi
- Hiroshi Araya
- Hiromi Iwasa (flashback)
- Takayuki Okada (flashback)
- Takuma Egawa (flashback)
- Yoshiaki Ide (flashback)
- Soji Ike (flashback)
Eiichiro and Nabae have their final preparations for the tomorrow's match. As Eiichiro is getting excited to face Nabae on a match, Nabae views Eiichiro as the biggest threat since Ike.
Eiichiro is observing Nabae's practice when he notices someone with a racket calls out Nabae. As he wonders why Nabae would need another racket, Araya approaches him to congratulate him for being part of top 4 of the competition. Through Araya, he learns that the veteran players in the Nationals get the chance to use new rackets from companies to help the companies on their research. Nabae gives a very detailed constructive feedback, thus, his rackets are specifically tuned for him, as if it is his own hand. Eiichiro thinks that with Nabae treating his racket as part of the body, his swings are smooth, no wasted movements, and no awkwardness. Araya's match is tough as well as he will face Okada. Before he leaves, Araya confirms if Natsu and Eiichiro are, indeed, going out.
Inside his room, Eiichiro reviews his notes regarding Nabae - how Nabae attacks him in their match before and what he learned in that match. He also asks Coach Aoi on what is needed for him to defeat Nabae. While Coach Aoi initially thinks that Eiichiro is getting nervous on his tomorrow's match, Coach Aoi then realizes that Eiichiro is actually enjoying it. Eiichiro is indeed excited for his match because of his strong desire to win against Nabae. Coach Aoi suggests Eiichiro to do something that he will definitely NOT to do on matches when he is under pressure ... and rely on luck.
Nabae, on the other hand, is reviewing his evaluation on Eiichiro - the change-of-pace strategy and the things he has to watch out. For Nabae, Eiichiro not compromising on every aspect of tennis techniques and the fact that he started playing tennis during high schools show his rapid growth that is comparable to Takuma and Ike. Eiichiro's rapid growth is incredible, enough for Nabae to consider him as the biggest threat since Ike appeared in the tennis world.