Aim for the Ace!
' (エースをねらえ!, Ēsu o Nerae!'') is a classic shoujo
manga begun in 1972 created by Sumika Yamamoto, that was later adapted into an anime in 1973. Highly influential to shoujo, it had several series throughout the 70's and 80's and a live-action movie in 2004. It has been dubbed and distributed in Europe, in French, Italian, German and Spanish.
The story focuses on Hiromi Oka, who is an ordinary high school girl whose one wish is to be as good at tennis as the girl who is best in the school, the graceful "Madame Butterfly
" Reika Ryuuzaki. Her coach Jin Munakata sees potential in her, and the rest of the series tells of her struggles and victories, on and off the court.
There was also a 1979 animated movie, which has higher quality animation
, since movies have a higher budget than a TV series
The TV series, as well as the movie and the OVA's were directed by Osamu Dezaki, who also directed Ashita no Joe
, Rose of Versailles
, and the OVA's for Black Jack
starts out as an Affectionate Parody
of this series before evolving into its own thing.
Tropes related to the series:
- Adaptation Expansion: The last OVA series (appropriately subtitled "Final Stage") picks up where the manga ended and wraps up some loose ends, most importantly Hiromi's relationship with Toudou.
- Alpha Bitch: Reika starts out acting like this, being the queen bee and at first angered that a newcomer like Hiromi could possibly have made the top five, but she warms up to her eventually.
- Animation Bump: The movie and the OVA's
- Art Evolution: The first two TV series (and to an extent the movie) basically had Sumika Yamamoto's artsyle with Akio Sugino's personal touches; in the OVAs, however, Akio Sugino's art-style is in full effect (so it's also an Art Shift at the same time).
- Back Story: Jin's expands on why he wants his girls to be strong after training.
- To Be a Master: Perfectly exemplifies the Japanese attitude of doing your best in everything (ganbarimasu).
- Chick Magnet: How many girls in the cast have feelings for Munakata?
- Cute Kitten: Hiromi's cat Goemon. As well as his white "kittymama" and their babies.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Reika.
- Doorstopper: A 3000 page manga! Mostly because of its long running and popularity over many years.
- Ending Theme: One of the earliest examples of the "mellower, sad ending tune" formula, "Shiroi Tennis Court".
- Even the Girls Want Her: Reika.
- Hair Decorations: Reika's big pink bow, the team captain's white barrettes, and Kyoko's awful orange bow-buns.
- Huge Schoolgirl: Ranko was this in the past, and her family introduced her to tennis to work through these issues.
- Gaming and Sports Anime and Manga
- Genki Girl: Hiromi and Maki.
- Locked Out of the Loop: When Munakata dies, Hiromi and the team are in the USA. Todou, Ranko and Oosaki find out but don't tell her so she won't lose her matches. (Todou has already lost his' due to the shock). Neither is happy about it, and specially since Hiromi has an enormous Heroic BSOD when she returns home and finds out...
- Love Bubbles: Happens when Reika's around.
- Love Dodecahedron: Hiromi and Reika are both in love with Munakata. (And Ranko also is attracted to him, though they're half-siblings. He falls for Hiromi. And then he kicks it. Additionally, Todou never really stops liking Hiromi after they break up due to Munakata's veto.
- Ill Boy: Munakata. He has leukemia... and actually dies.
- Na´ve Newcomer: Both Hiromi and Maki. Maki was really just in it to goof around from the start.
- Nice Guy: Todou
- The Ojou: Reika
- Onee-sama: Reika. Notably, this was first written well before everyone had slash goggles built into their eyes.
- Ojou Ringlets: Reika's long blonde ringlets allude to her Ojou upbringing.
- The Other Darrin: Some of the cast in the second TV series and later all of the cast except for Maki and Munakata in the OVAs.
- Parental Abandonment: Munakata's mother was abandoned by her husband when Munakata was a kid, and then she fell victim to Death by Despair. (Meanwhile, Munakata's dad would marry Ranko's mother.) Munakata himself was Raised by Grandparents afterwards.
- Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame: Being directed by Osamu Dezaki, this is expected, especially in the movie and the OVAs.
- Plucky Girl: Hiromi, and how.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Reika's father, the president of the Japanese Tennis Federation.
- Retired Badass: Both Munakata and Katsura
- The Rival: Hiromi, to Reika. Ranko and Reika, to each other.
- Second Love: Played with interestingly. Hiromi's first love was her fellow tennis player Todou, but Coach Munakata vetoed their relationship because he wanted her to focus in her career first and foremost. Then he became this trope to Hiromi... and then he died of his illness. And later, Hiromi and Todou find each other again.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Hiromi and Munakata, because he already was dying of leukemia when he met her and they fell in love.
- The Stoic: Coach Jin
- Training from Hell
- Your Days Are Numbered: Munakata's backstory. He was a great tennis player but was diagnosed with leukemia when he was atop of his career — and told that he had only three years from then on. He became a coach to find a heir/heiress before he died.