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CHARACTERS GUIDE

If Ace o Nerae! characters were not so singular and Dezaki&Sugino had been less skillful at the time of adapting Yamamoto´s art, this series would be nowadays another forgotten mangAnimé. Furthermore, Yamamoto created for this special story a range of miscellaneous personalities that not only differed from those days stereotypes but also answered realistic circumstances of day-to-day life. Hiromi´s passion and ready to fight spirit, Reika´s perfection and discipline, Ranko´s nobleness and tenacity, Takayuki´s strength and kindness, Katsura´s generosity and dignity or Jin´s magnetism and indomitable soul, are some of the basis that support the force of this mangAnimé.

During those five years between the beginning and the end of the series, characters suffer great psychological changes due to natural transformation towards adulthood and personal maturing after overcoming difficult proofs. Author presents as main characters a very special kind of individuals: youngsters that train to compete at high levels and so for, are obliged to renounce to adolescence privileges in order to achieve uncertain success in the near future. Yamamoto shows us a competitive panorama where it is necessary to give everything to get one´s goals, but that in exchange offers the satisfaction of practicing tennis, a sport that helps cultivating flesh and spirit and grants moral rewards.

Dezaki&Sugino adaptation to Animé is worthy of praise, specially regarding characters. Not only do they maintain their physical appearance to the minimum details but also seem so realistic that look like flesh and blood actors rather than acetate creatures.

Dezaki & Sugino's adaptation to Animé is worthy of praise, specially regarding characters. Not only do they maintain their physical appearance to the minimum details but also seem so realistic that look like flesh and blood actors rather than acetate creatures.


MAIN CHARACTERS:

The most important inflexion regarding character´s personal development coincides with the series equator and emphasizes character´s transformation from young tennis players to adult professionals:that is Jin´s death. This mutation is so important that contributes to change completely the tone of the story: from a teenager feuilleton to an adult melodrama in which tennis acquires the category of philosophy.

 

 

HIROMI OKA

She is the center of the plot, the link that merges the whole story. When series begins she is only 14 years old and behaves as a teenager full of enthusiasm, imagination and illusion. She lives in her own world full of fantasies, ideals and dreams. She does not like studying but loves going out with her best friend, Maki. Though she seems impulsive, childish and half-witted, it is easy to guess her flushing and attractive personality. At the beginning, tennis means nothing for her except the possibility of being near Nishi´s star-students and her idolized Reika. But, soon after, tennis becomes her greatest passion. Hiromi is not aware until the end of the series, moment of her birth as a champion, of her great and natural talent for this sport. This is a handicap in terms of self-confidence, but also an advantage considering her constant desire for improvement.

She possesses an irrevocable and ready to fight spirit that obliges her not to resign whatever the circumstances. Hiromi is a tough and firm player, she combines an indomitable spirit with great physical conditions, besides she is a very human and impressionable girl. Highs and lows of her personal life have a great influence in her tennis performance and that will make harder her ascension to the summit. Thanks to Jin´s help she will have her strong potential moulded even at the cost of renouncing to her first love, Takayuki. This resignment will mark her complete acceptance of Jin´s coaching who will become not only her personal trainer but also the most important person in her life. His death drove her to desperation and only thanks to Katsura, Jin´s best friend, will she be able to recover and play tennis again. Katsura will become her new coach in fulfillment of a promise made to Jin. His beloved trainer absence, once accepted, will not deter her from coming back to the courts. From that moment on, she will try to make him live again through her successes.

At the end of the series, Hiromi is 18 years old. She has become a woman with clear aims and enough spiritual strength to endure life as it is, sometimes cruel and hard. Her most important value is still her humanity, her capacity to make mistakes and improve, her courage to fall and stand out no matter how many times.
 

 

JIN MUNAKATA

Though he is not the center of the plot, he is the most important character. His presence, and remembrance after his death, makes of him the spirit that gives sense to the story, the axis that confers their exact dimension to the rest of the characters, the vehicle to express the main message of this beautiful sportive tale. A deeper analysis of this character is done under heading "A Story through a Character".
 

 

DAIGO KATSURA

When he appears, a new stage of the story is inaugurated. Until that moment, Jin had been the charismatic coach guiding all Nishi´s talents. Katsura will occupy his place after his death. On behalf of their friendship, Jin had got his promise of being his substitute when his time arrived.

Katsura had become a buddhist bonzo when Jin had retired tennis. His life as a monk was to be temporary, until Jin demanded his help. When this happened, he abandoned everything and came by his side. Jin introduced him to Hiromi for he was to be her personal coach and guardian in his place.

Katsura is a man of strong character, vital, with great sense of humor, self-assured, disciplined, passionate for sake, impulsive, perfecter, traditionalist. As a coach, he is rough and cautious but more tolerant and flexible than Jin. He always appears surrounded by great mystery and his motives are never explained. Why did he leave his succeeding tennis career when Jin retired? Why did he become a buddhist monk? Why did he leave monastery as soon as Jin asked for, considering he had found peace and a new life there? Maybe his feelings towards Jin were deeper than friendship? Though it is certain that we have no proofs of his being homosexual, it is possible that between them there was a rich emotion that mixed friendship, kindness and loyalty, values sometimes stronger than love itself. Maybe he had felt that his friend´s disease was so unfair that he had lost a sense for his life, a meaning for his achievements. Maybe was he so confused when Jin got ill, that he needed spiritual guidance. On the other hand, it is also conceivable that his attitude towards Jin was due to his feeling a sort of platonic love and admiration towards him. Though never confessed, this feeling could have been love and will accompany him during all his life.

Katsura will be an essential support for Hiromi; though never comparable to her former coach, thanks to his help will she overcome depression after Jin´s disappearance. For Ranko, Katsura will be an implacable and severe judge; for Takayuki and Reika, he will be a friend able to continue with Jin´s plans. For Jin, he will be his best friend: understanding, always full of energy, reliable, cheering.
 

 

REIKA RYUUZAKI

This is one of the most complex characters of the series. At the beginning, she behaves as a tennis diva. She enjoys all tennis club members’ admiration and benefits from privileges no one else has. She is nicknamed “Madame Butterfly” for her perfect tennis style. Her talent is recognized not only at Nishi but also at National Championships. Her father is the President of Japanese Tennis Federation and was in charge of her training when she was a child. Reika appears as a cold and restrained beauty, self-assured, jealous, arrogant, proud of her celebrity. She is conceited for not having ever been defeated at a tennis match and has promised herself to retire tennis whenever her first defeat arrives. She gives the impression of being always full of dignity, strong-hearted, steady, impartial, rational, but in her heart she is as passionate and impulsive as Hiromi. She has been stiffened by tennis but, as very few people know, she is rather delicate and sensitive. She lives for tennis and has decided to dedicate her life to it.

Her vanity is going to suffer a great shock after meeting Jin. Seeing how he prefers Hiromi to herself, an experienced player, is going to drive her very jealous. Nevertheless her love for tennis and Hiromi´s talent is going to change her attitude towards her and Jin. Despite she begins treating him with clear hostility and questioning all his decisions, she will end falling in love with him. Once she has overcome her jealousy, she opens herself to being Hiromi´s friend. In a sense, she admires her for not letting tennis change her true personality, as it has happened with her. Though she is aware that Hiromi is destined to be her best rival, she helps her whenever she can, accepting the fact that the coach considers her only an obstacle for his pupil to conquer. This is one of the saddest dramas of the plot: Reika´s resignation to being just an opponent for Hiromi under Jin´s eyes.
 

 

RANKO MIDORIKAWA

She is the most affectionate character of the series. She combines an outrageous personality with a dramatic personal story. Daughter of Jin´s father second marriage, she knew her brother when she was a child, ignorant of their brotherhood. She was fond of him since the beginning but when she became a teenager that emotion changed to deep love. Although Jin knew she was his stepsister, he did not tell her and when she understood the truth, it was too late to avoid her real feelings. The sensation of loss this knowledge caused her was eased by tennis, a sport that she had begun practising through Jin´s advice. He thought it would be a great method for her to overcome her complex of being very tall. After realising their brotherhood, she pleased herself with the illusion of being his pupil but was dissapointed when Jin concentrated on Hiromi. It was too hard for Ranko to accept that he saw on Hiromi more possibilities to succeed in tennis than on her and also to endure that he was beginning to care personally for his new pupil.

Nevertheless, Ranko shared with Jin his indomable fighting spirit, his thirst for perfection, and his firmness... Finally she became, by his own efforts, a member of the japanese tennis national team. She never considered Hiromi as her true rival at the court, she was only “little Hiromi”, Jin´s pupil, a young tennis player that needed help and support. Ranko´s true rival was Reika. They were friends and opponents, and although for Reika it was Hiromi the true rival, for Ranko it was she.

Ranko always faced the hardest training. She planned her coaching with her heart instead of with her mind. That drove her to having injuries that led her to abandoning matches and having defeats. Despite this, she never abandoned tennis even when she lost use of her right wrist... Her love for Jin was so intense that replenished her life and encouraged her to continue.

Ranko is the prototype of a warrior: masculine body appearance, strong character, brave, independent, proud, indomitable. But above all, very human and with a strong capacity for sacrifice and suffering.
 

 

TAKAYUKI TOHDOH

He symbolizes idealism and optimism. He is very important for Hiromi along the whole series. When she enters Nishi, he becomes her platonic love and the only reason for her to endure her sufferings. His example as player and his tenderness will help her to overcome the most difficult proofs. Takayuki is her “warrior in bright armor”, the person that appears when she is in trouble. Nevertheless, as the story goes on, he falls in love with her and has to witness how Hiromi is obliged by Jin to forget him in order to concentrate on tennis. As a consequence their relation changes to mere friendship and Hiromi´s feelings are set on Jin.

He will continue loving her despite everything and his admiration towards Jin will increase. He is a very sensitive boy but brave and tough. He will try to follow Jin´s steps and teachings after his death by becoming a proffesional tennis player. It will be his sense of loyalty and honour, his unchanging feelings towards Hiromi, his goodness, and above all, his spiritual resemblance with Jin, what finally will atract Hiromi after Jin´s death.

 


SECONDARY CHARACTERS


There are two kind of secondary characters: those that appear throughout the whole series, and those who are just mere Hiromi´s rivals. We will concentrate on the former.
 

 

MAKI AIKAWA

Hiromi´s best friend. She is always by her side. Not even a sister would have care more for her or be more loyal. She is adviser, catering responsible and colleague for parties. Although Hiromi does not always answer to Maki´s needs as a friend would have done, Maki never doubts to bring her friend a hand. She also plays tennis, but is never jealous of Hiromi´s improvements.

Maki is a very attractive girl, generous, happy, spontaneous, loyal, dynamic, flirtatious. She is the ideal friend everybody desires. Her personality deserved to be analysed in more depth.
 

 

TAKASHI CHIBA

Takayuki and Yuu´s friend. He admires Hiromi´s way of playing tennis and so for takes photographs of her. He is an amateur photographer and becomes a professional tha works for a sport magazine at the end of the series. He is always ready to help and although his feelings are never cleared, he seems to be in love with Reika.
 

 

YUU OZAKI

Takashi and Takayuki´s friend. He is captain of Nishi´s male tennis club and plays doubles with Takayuki. He is a very important character in manga story, but looses relevance in Animé. He is always by Takayuki´s side and seems to be in love with Reika.
 

 

MR. RYUUZAKI

Reika´s father. He is the President of Japanese Tennis Federation. He is a businessman and belongs to a rich family. Though he has many responsibilities, he never neglects his daughter. He is a very generous and fair man that leads Japanese Tennis Federation wisely. He loves Reika dearly and admires Jin´s for his talent and ideas. Despite he can see Hiromi´s great potential can be dangerous for his daughter he always defends her and try to satisfy Jin´s demands.
 

 

MR. & MRS. OKA

They represent home and peace for Hiromi. She is an only child and her parents have great expectations on her. They have educated their daughter in an atmosphere of freedom and let her take her own decisions.
 

 

KYOKO OTOWA

She is one of Hiromi´s first rivals. Her dramatic story is explained thoroughly in Animé: as she is going to lose use of her right arm, she does not want that Hiromi substitutes her as a member of Nishi´s female tournament team. That is why she questions Jin´s decisions and becomes Hiromi´s enemy.
 

 

ANGIE REYNOLDS

Angie is Mr. Reynold´s daughter. She is a very talented and passionate player. At first she is very jealous of Hiromi being trained by her father but after knowing circumstances surrounding Jin´s death, she becomes one of Hiromi´s best friends. She is extroverted, cheerful and generous.
 

 

EDDY REYNOLDS

Eddy is Mr Reynold´s son and Angie´s brother. He often appears to be quite a wacky fellow who always is cheery and funny, that is because he often hides his serious sides. Like his sister he’s quite a good player though it seems that he isn’t as regularly active as the other characters. His personality is deeper developed in manga than in Animé.
 

 

MR. REYNOLDS

Mr. Reynolds is Angie and Eddy´s father. He is also their trainer and a very good one in fact, although he is pretty strict. Maybe his character can be compared to Mr. Ryuuzaki’s at least a bit. When he becomes responsible of Hiromi´s training he is able to see her innate qualities, and he even admits to prefer her rather than his own daughter as a player. Knowing that Hiromi ignores Jin´s fatal death while she was playing her first international tournament in USA, he says one of the most beautiful sentences of the Animé “After the hardest winter, it always comes the most placid spring”.
 

 

MARIA YOUNG

Maria Young is an excellent tennis-player. She is also a very proud person. Hiromi managed to beat her once and since then she is the person Maria Young wants to beat herself, more than anyone else.
 

 

BELL MACKENZIE

She is one of the most important professional promises of USA tennis at the time she beats Hiromi at the USA Tournament. She combines strength and aesthetics as a tennis player and possesses an inherent sense of perfection that makes her feel that Hiromi might be her successor in the near future.
 

 

GOEMON

He is Hiromi’s pet. A black, loving and kind cat, whose appearances in the story are always full of humour and joy. Before going to the US for her first time, Hiromi will couple him with a beautiful and white lady-cat, and he will become father of a group of delicious little kittens. The family’s behaviour will ease and entertain Hiromi’s spirit after Jin’s death.
 

 

JIN'S MOTHER

She married when she was very young and always loved deeply her husband. When he decided to abandon her because he had fallen in love with another woman, she entered a terrible depression from which she never recovered. She died two years later, leaving her dearest son of seven years-old, who loved her very much, under her parents’ custody.
 

 

MR. MIDORIKAWA

Jin’s father. He abandoned his wife when he fell in love with another woman, leaving his son Jin consumed by a deep hate towards his father. After obtaining the divorce, he remarried and had a child, Ranko, who never forgave her father for making her mid-brother suffer.
 


OTHER SECONDARY CHARACTERS
THAT ONLY APPEAR IN THE TV SERIES

(Information provided by Dennis Hirschmann (DHirsch82@aol.com))

 

 

JEAN RYDER

In Animé, Jean is introduced as the decisive rival, the only obstacle left for Hiromi in order to reach the tennis summit. She is always dressed in black and occupies one of the top rankings at ATP (Tennis Professional Association). When she beats Reika after a tragic match, and Mme. Buttefly decides to give up tennis forever, Hiromi remains as the only one able to avenge her. Her victory over Jean is the chosen conclusion for the Animé.
 

 

 


OTHER SECONDARY CHARACTERS
THAT ONLY APPEAR IN THE MANGA

(Information provided by Dennis Hirschmann (DHirsch82@aol.com))

 

 

REI HANNABUSA

When Hannabusa Rei first appears she seems to be a quite and sophisticated girl, a bit like Reika probably. But she is actually a pretty emotional person who seems to act the way she feels all the times. Rei has a serious crush on Hiromi, in fact she even tells her, that she’s in love with her. Whether this is real love or just admiration isn’t quite that clear, but she doesn’t show any interests in any of the men in the stories so it can be assumed that she’s lesbian. Rei isn’t as good as Hiromi in tennis, but she is very determined to get better. She is Yuu Kamiya´s cousin.
 

 

KOUZUKI

Kouzuki is more of a macho man, and his first appearance in the series is a match against Hiromi which he looses. From this time on he admires Hiromi a lot, one even could say that he falls in love with her. However it doesn’t look like he really tries to get closer to her. However he has quite some fights over her with Rei. Kouzuki is very hot tempered anyway and starts fighting with anyone who pisses him off.
 

 

SAEKO HOURIKI

Saeko first appears as an opponent of Hiromi, a significant strong one and she has one hell of a match against Hiromi. Her play is a lot like her character – powerful and hard, but she still is a very humorous person. However she can’t stand losses and although she and Hiromi become good friends, Hiromi is still an opponent to her. Saeko falls in love with Coach Munakata and she doesn’t like it at all that he gives all his attention to Hiromi. She is a close friend of the Reynolds family and actually is trained by Mr. Reynolds.
 

 

JACKIE BINT

Jackie too started out as an opponent but became a good friend of Hiromi later. She should be older than the other characters, around 23 maybe, and has a good sense of fashion and elegance. And she seems to be such a person too, intelligent and reasonable, but she also can be very impulsive and is open for all kinds of fun.
 

 

GEORGIE BINT

Jackie’s younger sister. Unlike Jackie she has some kind of negative aura. She can’t stand the thought of fighting and maybe even loosing to “such a girl as Hiromi”. Although Jackie succeeds in giving her a better view of Hiromi in the end she and Hiromi stay opponents.
 

 

YUU KAMIYA

Not only the reader but also Hiromi notices from the beginning that Yuu Kamiya’s appearance is almost identical to coach Munakata´s. In fact, it is not just a physical similarity but also psychical. He is a silent type of lone wolf and is quite introverted. He is also a very strong and stubborn fellow. His mother died when he was very young and he had to live practically all by himself, even though his aunt and uncle – Rei’s parents, raised him. Rei is most of the time very worried of him.

Yuu enters Nishi Tennis Club because he admires Hiromi. One could say he’s in love with her, though this isn’t stated explicitly in the manga. However, he seems to be very jealous of Tohdoh and his closeness to Hiromi. Although Yuu doesn’t start out as a very passionate player, he eventually does become a good player.
 

 

HIGUCHI NATSUYO

She is one of Ranko’s closest friends. She was supposed to beat Hiromi in a match but she didn’t and never did in the future. She never became really important for the story.
 

 

OOTA

He is, together with Katsura, Jin’s very close friend. He assumed the role of secondary trainer at Nishi’s tennis club, helping Jin with his responsibilities as a coach. Jin shows great affection towards him. After Jin’s death, he will continue collaborating with Katsura and maintaining a close relation with the Munakata family. At the end of the series, he will marry and have a child.
 

 

REIKO Y AYAKI

Reiko and her little sister Ayaki are very close friends of the Todoh’s family. Both play tennis but the elder gave up tennis when, after coming back from the US, she got married. Friendship between Takayuki and Ayaki will drive Hiromi jealous on various occasions.
 

 

SHIMA

Former Nishi‘s pupil, after finishing his studies at the University, was summoned to perform his duty as a tennis coach after Jin‘s death. Stated that Katsura is officially in charge of Hiromi’s training, and that of other of Nishi’s tennis talents, Shima’s appearances are used for some comic relief.
 

 

AI OZAKI

Ai is Yuu Ozaki‘s sister. She plays tennis and has a crush on Kamiya, something Ozaki is not very glad of.
 

 

MR. & MRS. KAMIYA

Yuu Kamiya‘s parents. Their role in the story is very limited. In the few scenes where they appear, they seem to be very worried about their child.
 

 

CHRIS EBERT

She is one the great “ladies” of tennis. Her sole appearance in the manga story is made when she must face Billy Jean King at a Tournament that Hiromi is attending as a spectator.
 

 

BILLY JEAN KING

Mrs. King was introduced in this series very earlier, however not as a character, but as one of the great “ladies” of tennis. Her actual appearance in the manga is in the very last parts. She gives Hiromi one of the most important and hardest matches ever (though not her very last one shown in “Ace”), and afterwards she acts like the perfect “looser”. Mrs. King is also a lot older than all the other players in “Ace”, she is aged around 30 probably.
 

 


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