High school freshman Hiromi joins the tennis club because of her admiration for Ryuzaki. Ryuzaki is a senior, who's the best tennis player on the team and also nicknamed "Ochoufujin", ("Madame Butterfly"), because of her elegance on the tennis court. However, the new coach, Jin Munakata, wants the inexperienced Hiromi to play in a forthcoming tournament.
Due to this, Hiromi considers quitting tennis for good but, in the depth of her soul, she soon realizes that she loves tennis after all. She returns to the club and, under Munakata's coaching, her talent starts to bloom.
In the end, Hiromi develops a strong emotional bond with her coach, not knowing that Munakata is risking his life because of a chronic illness.
Ace wo Nerae! is without a doubt the most under-viewed and unappreciated film listed on this site. At the time of this writing only 53 people have scored this? Truly shocking as I found this to be one of the best sports themed anime I have ever seen.
This movie serves as a recap for the television series from the early 70s. Since I went into this movie not seeing the original series, I can’t compare how this film does justice to it or the original manga. However as a standalone story it’s a very good one. Hiromi Oka is a
freshman member of her high schools tennis club, which also happens to have many of the best players in the country. On her first day a new coach is introduced and Hiromi is quickly picked by him as a top new prospect, though no one else seems to see this talent including Hiromi herself. He pushes her with a brutal training regiment and slowly she becomes better and more confident leading up to the ultimate goal of making the national squad to compete internationally.
The movie features great sports action and even though I am not particularly a fan of tennis, I found the action to be both realistic and exciting. It also does a great job of keeping it simple. Often movies, particularly recap ones, try to do too much and cram so much information in them that they end up not making a lot of sense. That’s not the case here as we are given just enough background on the supporting cast to make you care for the characters. While the focus of the story remains fixed on the tennis aspects, Ace wo Nerae does a good job of mixing in a little romance and some compelling dramatic plotlines.
I really loved the cast and in particular the lead, Hiromi Oka. She is a bit of your standard leading lady but I found her to be a very interesting and likeable character. I can imagine that she has influenced many of the anime heroines that have succeeded her over the years. The strict coach Jin Munakata, is your typically stoic man with a mysterious past. Though his motivations are hidden from the audience for almost the entire film when they are revealed I felt that they worked pretty well. The rest of the cast is good and the character archetypes will be familiar. Reika who is the best player on the team and is idolized by Hiromi, is aloof and tough on Oka because she doesn’t think she deserves what the coach gives her. She’s a pretty good foil for Hiromi though you can’t really call her a villain. Unlike a lot of sports stories where the rival of the hero or heroine is usually a total asshole, Reika doesn’t come across that way nor will be hated by viewers. Toudou is the best male player on the team and is the love interest for Oka. He’s a likeable character though the romance elements take a backseat to the sports action.
For a movie from the late 70s, the animation holds up remarkably well to today’s standards. The art and character designs are top notch and it is quite beautiful to watch. The only thing that really is painful to view is some of the god awful hair styles and clothing. The acting is very solid as well, though the music is typically 70s but neither particularly good nor bad. There are some really great sound effects however, the tennis matches sounded exactly like they should.
I strongly encourage everyone to go out and try to find a copy of this movie to watch. Anyone who considers themselves a fan of anime should give this a shot. Don’t let its age fool you, Ace wo Nerae! is classic.
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