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Aceonerae.png

Aim for the Ace! (エースをねらえ!, Ēsu o Nerae!) is a classic Shoujo anime and manga by Sumika Yamamoto, which ran in the Margaret Magazine from 1972 to 1980. It's said to have codified many, MANY Shoujo trademarks: the "klutzy but well-intentioned heroine", the "rich bitch who's jealous of the heroine and may or may not be good deep down", the "stoic and handsome love interest with a cruel past", the "close female friends who could be easily seen as girlfriends", etc.

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 Reika "Madame Butterfly" 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: two anime series (the original from 1973-1974 and its 1977-1978 remake); a 1979 animated movie with noticeably better animation; two OAV series released between 1988 and 1990, and a J-Drama from 2004. It has been dubbed and distributed in Europe, in French, Italian and Spanish. And last but not least, the 1979 movie AND the two OAV's were directed by none other than legendary director Osamu Dezaki, ant it shows.

Gunbuster starts out as an Affectionate Parody of this series before evolving into its own thing.

Tropes used in Aim for the Ace! include:
  • 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.
  • Adapted Out: Several charas from the manga didn't show up in the anime: Rei Hanabusa, Kouzuki, Saeko Kouriki, the Bint sisters (Jackie and Georgie), Yuu Kamiya and his parents, Natsuyo Higuchi, the sisters Reiko and Ayaki, Yuu Ozaki's sister Ai.
    • Subverted later: Rei and Saeko DO appear in Shin.
  • 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.
  • Backstory: Jin's expands on why he wants his girls to be strong after training: he wants to choose a successor between them before he dies.
  • Big Brother Worship: Ranko Midorikawa adores her older half-brother (none other than Coach Jin). And yes, it pretty much goes into Brother-Sister Incest from her side, though to be fair she didn't know he was her half-brother by the time she fell for him (he did realise it earlier than her, but didn't tell her)
  • To Be a Master: Perfectly exemplifies the Japanese attitude of doing your best in everything (ganbarimasu).
  • Broken Bird: Ranko. And Coach Jin's mother.
  • Canon Foreigner: Jean Ryder
  • Career-Ending Injury: Kyouko, in the anime.
  • Cute Kitten: Goemon!
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Coach Munakata, hooooly shit. To a smaller degree, also Ranko who is his half-sister and thus shares part of said past with him
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Reika
  • Demoted to Extra: Yuu Ozaki, Todoh's friend and the captain of the boys' team.
  • Died Standing Up: Downplayed: Coach Jin died when he was sitting on his (death) bed.
  • Distracted From Death: In the USA episodes, Coach Munakata is hospitalized due to his terminal leukemia and Ranko is taking care of him. At some point he asks her to get him some fresh flowers and she leaves the room to do so... but when she returns, she sees that he had a seizure and then died.
  • Doorstopper: A 3000 page manga! Mostly because of its long running and popularity over many years.
  • Eagleland: Part of the later action takes places in the USA, and logically there are many Americans involved.
  • Ending Theme: One of the earliest examples of the "mellower, sad ending tune" formula, "Shiroi Tennis Court"
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Reika
    • Ozaki's cousin Rei Hanabusa is implied to be in love with Hiromi.
  • Hair Decorations: Reika's big pink bow, the team captain's white barrettes, Ranko's light green barrettes, and Kyoko's awful orange bow-buns.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Both Jin and Katsura, surprisingly. Then they became Fire-Forged Friends, Friendly Rivals and the best JPN tennis players of their generation - until Jin retired due to his illness.
  • Gaming and Sports Anime And Manga
  • Genki Girl: Hiromi
  • Good Parents: Hiromi's parents, Reika's dad.
  • Ill Girl: Genderflipped by Coach Jin, who suffers of leukemia as the series begins. Even more, by that time he barely has a life expectance of three years top... and then he actually dies.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: A very tragic example. After Coach Jin dies when Hiromi and the team are in a tournament in the USA, Reika's dad tells her and Todou... but asks them to keep it a secret from Hiromi so she won't lose her matches. She doesn't find out until everyone's back to Japan, and she almost crosses the Despair Event Horizon at that.
  • Love Bubbles: Happens when Reika's around.
  • Melodrama
  • Missing Mom: Coach Jin's mother was a beautiful and kind lady, but after Jin's dad left her, she fell into heavy depression and then into a Death by Despair.
  • Naive Newcomer: Both Hiromi and Maki. Maki was really just in it to goof around from the start.
  • The Ojou: Reika, of the Ice Queen -> Proper Lady types.
  • Onee-Sama: Reika. Notably, this was first written well before everyone had slash goggles built into their eyes.
  • Pastel-Chalked Freeze-Frame: Most notably in the 90-minute movie retelling, directed by famed Osamu Dezaki.
    • The OAV's are also littered with this. One of the biggest examples is when Coach Munakata collapses and dies.
  • Princess Curls: Reika's long blonde ringlets allude to her Ojou upbringing.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Coach Jin
  • Shower of AngstTodou had one after learning about Coach Jin's death
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Hiromi and Jin. Not only he's almost ten years older than her and her coach, but he's Secretly Dying already. . .
  • Stock Shout Out: If you see the Princess Curls on a one-shot character in an anime, she'll end up playing sports (and probably tennis) against that show's lead character.
  • The Stoic: Coach Jin. He has his reasons, however.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Subverted: the tomboyish Hiromi likes knitting.
  • Tomboy: Ranko, who also used to be a Huge Schoolgirl.
  • Training from Hell: And how. It turns out to be for deeper reasons than usual: Coach Jin is dying of leukemia, and he wants to train someone to pass the torch to.
  • Trope Codifier: Hiromi is one of the two first big JPN examples of Passionate Sports Girl. The other is Kozue Ayuhara from Attack No. 1.
  • Unrequited Tragic Maiden: Both Reika and Ranko have shades of this for the same man: Coach Jin. It's worse for the second, since he's her half-brother.