Shojo Manga 'Ace o Nerae!' can be understood under various points of view: as a love story, as a modern samurai drama or even as a sportive journey. Nevertheless, it is interesting enlightening the fact that in this manga coexist a great variety of subplots including tragedy caused by a devastating disease, forbidden affairs, spiritual sacrifices, friendship fronting to platonic love... Despite it was written in the 70s, this story is of complete actuality and has a special charisma that has contributed to achieve a great success in the 90´s.
'Ace o Nerae!' (also 'Aim for the Ace!' for English speakers, 'Esu o Nerae!' in romanji, 'Raqueta de Oro' for Spanish speakers, 'Jenny, la tennista' for Italians, or 'Jeu, set et match' for French) was conceived by author Sumika Yamamoto. It was first published in Margaret Comics in 1973, a period when she-mangakas demonstrated great interest in consolidating shojo as a genre, specially sportive shojo, as a consequence of the great impact that the victory of the Japanese Feminine Volleyball National Team in 1964 Olympiads had in Japanese society. 'Ace o Nerae!' had great success at that time and, in the same year of its publication, Tokyo Movie Shinsha (TMS) produced a TV series of the same title with Osamu Dezaki as Chief Director and Akio Sugino as Art director. This series, that was broadcasted since October´73 until March´74, contained 26 episodes and adapted the manga story till the point where Hiromi succeeds at the time of being selected as a member for the National Japanese Tennis Team. Yamamoto continued and finished serialising the manga in Margaret from 1978 until 1980.
Because of it success, a new TV series was released in 1978-79 titled 'Shin Ace o Nerae' (25 episodes), broadcasted by a different network: NTV. This series continued the story from the end of the first TV series up to Munakata´s death. Besides, TMS, combining Dezakis and Suginos talents, launched a movie (1978-79) titled 'Ace o Nerae: Theatrical Version' (marketed much later, for commercial purposes, under the title 'Jump High, Hiromi') which summarised TV series in an unique plot of 88 minutes.
It was not until 1988 that final part of the manga was adapted to Animé by team constituted by great director Osamu Dezaki and incredible character designer Akio Sugino. It resulted in 25 OVAs under two titles 'Ace o Nerae!2' (13 episodes) and 'Ace o Nerae! Final Stage' (12 episodes).
'Shin Ace o Nerae' Controversy:
Information provided by Barbara Chambers, co-founder of The Technogirls Club, which is now dealing with 'Ace o Nerae' Fansubbing Project in english (http://www.quixium.com/technogirls/ace.htm):
'My Ace o Nerae Perfect Collection set which includes everything only contains 26 episodes plus the 88 minutes movie. For a while I couldnt confirm that a series titled Shin Ace o Nerae was released. Then I discovered it was, on a different TV network from TV series 1.There may be a copyright conflict; it looks like the various series will never be released in one box. There is some evidence that Shin Ace showed a second time on NTV beginning in 1991. This time they showed 29 episodes instead of 25. Its likely that the 4 extra episodes were compilation episodes (review episodes not containing any new material); it even seems to have shown again later, this time with 30 episodes, but there is not specific proof'. (Thanks Barbara for your info correcting the Animé Dossier below).
Ace o Nerae version released in Spain:
Animé version released in Spain (the one we will refer to at the time of analysing the episodes in other section of this webpage) contained 58 episodes. The first 33 composed by the complete Ace o Nerae first TV series (26 episodes) and 7 extra episodes from Shin Ace o Nerae series. The final 25 episodes correspond to the 25 OAVs.
Ace o Nerae! Dossier:
Manga author: Sumika Yamamoto
Animé Creative Staff:
Director: Osamu Dezaki
Character Design: Akio Sugino (OVAs)
Art Director: Akio Sugino
Storyboard: Hiroyuki Yano/ Osamu Dezaki
Script: Makiko Mikami/Masami Mori
Ace o Nerae!/Esu o Nerae! (Japan)
Aim for the Ace! (UK, USA)
Jenny, la tennista (Italy)
Jeu, set et match (France)
Raqueta de Oro (Spain)
Serialised from 1972-75 1978-80 by Margaret Comics.
Tankoubon (pocketbook-sized compilations) edition:
1st edition: Margaret, 18 volumes, 1973-80, Y340
2nd edition: Shuueisha, 18 volumes, 1978-81, Y400
3rd edition: Chuokoron-sha, 4 volumes, 1989, Y524
4th edition: Chuokoron-sha, 14 volumes, 1994-95, Y1300
1. TV-1 series 'Ace o Nerae!' (1973-74), TMS, 26 episodes
2. TV-2 series 'Shin Ace o Nerae!' (1978-79), TMS (¿?), released on NTV, 25 episodes
3. Movie 'Ace o Nerae: Theatrical Version' (known as 'Jump High, Hiromi' in the rental market), 1979, TMS, 88 minutes
4. OAV-1 series 'Ace o Nerae!2' (1988), TMS, 13 episodes
5. OAV-2 series 'Ace o Nerae: Final Stage' (1989-1990), TMS, 12 episodes
Total TV episodes: 51
Total OAVS episodes: 25
Animé Music: Katsuhiro Mizawa (composer). CD Reference: KIKA 2120. Y2200
Games: Tennis game titled 'Ace o Nerae'. Super Famicon. Nihon Telenet. Y9400