Aim for the Ace! (エースをねらえ! Ēsu o Nerae!?) is a sports shōjo manga by Sumika Yamamoto begun in 1972 and serialized in Margaret. Hugely successful, it was adapted into a TV anime series in 1973 by Tokyo Movie Shinsha with the Madhouse animation studio (its first major production), and was originally aired on MBS.
Another TV anime, a movie retelling of the first series, and two OAVs followed in the 1970s and 1980s. More recently, a live-action drama series aired in 2004. The original TV anime has been distributed in Europe, with the titles Jenny la tennista or "Jenny, the Tennis Player" (Italian), Jeu, Set et Match, or "Game, Set and Match" (French), and Raqueta de oro or "Golden Racket" (Spanish).
The story is about Hiromi Oka, a high school girl who struggles to become good at tennis. Hiromi starts playing tennis in her high school, Nishiko, because she is fascinated by an older girl, Reika Ryūzaki, who is the best player in the team and is nicknamed "Madame Butterfly" (お蝶夫人 "Ochōfujin"?) because of her grace on the tennis court. The team gets a new coach, Jin Munakata, who sees potential in her and trains her to become a great tennis player. Hiromi struggles to overcome her mental weakness. Nishiko is modeled after Urawanishi High School, from which the author graduated.
Later on, she falls in love with another tennis player, Takayuki Tōdō, but Coach Munakata tells her not to get too involved, and that it is better to forget him in order to become a better player. Hiromi suffers over this, and many times she loses her confidence in her playing abilities, but with the support of her coach and her many friends she overcomes her anxiety. By training herself to become a better player, Hiromi grows into a mentally stronger person. Hiromi's enthusiasm and love for tennis, and the support from people around her, helps her to become one of the best players in the world.
- Hiromi Oka (岡ひろみ Oka Hiromi?) Makoto Kōsaka (anime, both TV series & movie), Yuko Mizutani (OVA's), Aya Ueto (drama)
- Reika Ryūzaki (竜崎麗香 Ryūzaki Reika?) Masako Ikeda (anime, both TV series & movie), Yoshiko Sakakibara (OVA's), Rio Matsumoto (drama)
- Jin Munakata (宗方仁 Munakata Jin?) Kōji Nakata (anime, 1st TV series), Nachi Nozawa (anime, 2nd TV series, movies, OVA's), Masaaki Uchino (drama)
- Takayuki Tōdō (藤堂貴之 Tōdō Takayuki?) Katsuji Mori (anime, both TV series & movies), Kazuhiko Inoue (OVA's), Hisashi Yoshizawa (drama)
- Kyoko Otowa - Yoshiko Ohta (anime, 1st TV series), Kazue Komiya (anime, 2nd TV series)
- Ranko Midorikawa - Toshiko Sawada (anime, 1st TV series), Kazuko Yanaga (anime, 2nd TV series & movie), Eiko Yamada (OVA's), Ayana Sakai (drama)
- Yū Ozaki - Michihiro Ikemizu (anime, 1st TV series), Junji Toyota (anime, 2nd TV series & movie), Hideyuki Umezu (OVA's), Yuma Ishigaki (drama)
- Takashi Chiba - Osamu Ichikawa (anime, 1st TV series), Kazuyuki Sogabe (anime, 2nd TV series & movie), Kenyū Horiuchi (OVA's), Shuji Kashiwabara (drama)
- Tomoyo - Kotono Mitsuishi (anime)
- Maki Aikawa - Masako Sugaya (anime), Ayaka Morita (drama)
- Houriki Saiko - Becky (drama)
Sequels to the anime
- Ēsu o Nerae! Gekijōban Jump High, Hiromi (エースをねらえ! 劇場版 Jump High, Hiromi?) (movie)
- Shin Ēsu o Nerae! (新エースをねらえ！?) (TV anime)
- Ēsu o Nerae! 2 (エースをねらえ！２?) (OAV)
- Ēsu o Nerae! Fainaru Sutēji (エースをねらえ！ファイナルステージ?) (OAV)
Ēsu o Nerae! was adapted into a 2004 Japanese drama series by TV Asahi. The theme song of the show was "Ai no Tame ni" by Aya Ueto who also starred in the leading role. It was broadcast weekly at 21:00 on Thursdays.
TV series staff
- Producers - Motohiro Matsumoto, Shizuo Sekiguchi
- Screenwriter - Akiyo Takikawa
- Music - Norihito Sumitomo
- Tennis supervisor - Shuzou Matsuoka
Aim for the Ace! (エーズをねらえ！ Ēsu o Nerae?) is a story-driven tennis Super Famicom video game for girls, based on the manga of the same name. It was developed by Nippon Telenet and released on December 22, 1993. The main character has to win the love of an older student by winning in a tennis tournament. The object in the game is to beat the opponents while trying not to get distracted by the early 3D rotational graphics (aka Mode 7). There is even a practice mode for younger girls who wish to brush up on their tennis skills before taking on the real competition.
- Gunbuster - a 1988 sci-fi anime with a similar storyline.
- Official Shueisha Ace o Nerae! manga website (Japanese)
- Official TV Asahi Ace o Nerae! television drama website (Japanese)
- Anime Video Games Review
- Ace o Nerae! at superfamicom.org
- エースをねらえ! / Ace o Nerae! at super-famicom.jp (Japanese)