Aim For The Ace! (1979)
A 2017 private memoir about college life in 2012
I first saw the Aim for the Ace!: The Movie when I was a freshman in college. It was Valentine’s Day, 2012, and the Japanese club thought it would be nice to play an ironic, so-called “avant-garde” film in the afternoon.
I was good friends with this blue-haired, Chinese-American girl named Sarah. She only dyed her hair blue because, …well, that’s what all the white girls did. She would rely solely on me for homework help. We had something going on. The fact that I was the only role model in the room made it seem like I would be a good white boyfriend. I was exactly the type she would gravitate towards.
The alt-right would probably call this archetype, “the orbital, beta-male cuck.” I remember having lunch by myself as a hermit. Already that would imply the term.
And then she saw me. She waved and smiled, and came over to talk to me. It’s like she was always this good friend I have known for a long time, like, since elementary, but not.
She said something like, “Do you want to see this cool anime from the 1970s called Aim for the Ace?”
I remember saying something back, like, “That sounds awesome!” I don’t know, something corny. And then she retorted back in a cute shriek and sounded like some kind of groovy mod-girl from the 1960s. I notice young people today especially love to play on this… funky lingo… to express their eccentric personalities. It’s like a fine mix of ignorance, naiveté, …umm… immaturity, …“confusion,” and social pressure. I don’t know how to explain it.
Yeah, Sarah was a real cutie. If I had the power and confidence at that time, I would have considered her my girlfriend at the time. I don’t know if she ever belonged to anyone else, or just as socially awkward as I was, being another useless cog in nowhere Pennsylvania. I knew for a fact she would flirt with me often, just by saying, “...I need you as a boyfriend today!” She said that to me! I honestly didn’t know what she meant by that, other than she just wanted to have fun.
Being so young, I was too “autistic” to figure out her cues (or even brave enough to ask her on a date). I could not distinguish between what a “friend” was, versus the state of being a potential lover. I guess just like every other guy, I would say “yes” to all her petty commands to get some level of easy intimacy. I believed I was meaningful in her presence.
I know now that young people tend to seek others to do something for them when they can’t say it themselves. Sarah was that type. Insecure, but willing to be intimate with me. It’s like she wants to say it, but can’t.
If there was any possible accusation that I was her boyfriend, she would outright deny it. I knew it. I could feel it. That made me too afraid to put our relationship in jeopardy.
Sarah, a Chinese American, loves anime and Japanese culture for the sake of belonging to an ambiguous “Asian” culture. A malaise label is made up by white people to categorize what they like. “I’m white like you, let’s wear plaid and listen to hardcore. I’m Asian like you, let’s watch anime together and eat sushi.” If she was to be a “normie,” or a normal person, then she just had to be a white one. That also meant picking up all the sarcastic, ironic, and typical hipster things young white people do. She probably also knew Chinese, while I was trying to learn Japanese. That’s the odd part. So much of learning Japanese has to do with me, as a white person, to understand what “the good Asians” think of us.
But my favorite part, which contradicts this whiteness fad, is that she likes pretending to be an anime character, as a way to attract nerdy white boys into anime, …like me. That’s the thing. It drove me fucking crazy. This was right before the whole “gamer” fad, where normies attended anime and video game conventions and dressed up as Japanese cartoon characters. …And she was the birth of all that.
We went to the movie together. Not hand in hand, but side by side. Again, I was too afraid to ever touch her, in fear it would bring up the thought, and then real-life projection, of someone yelling at me.
I was sitting with her in a dark theater, a matinee show at 3 p.m., about to watch a vintage anime movie about tennis. I guess you could say it was a date. She didn’t have the words to express this. Always, I think she was afraid to consider it one.
Aim For The Ace! is a special movie for me. I was so engaged with the film that I forgot about Sarah and the thirty other students doing nothing. I forgot I was sitting right next to her.
I was amazed at the watercolor-esque pictures and that old synthesizer soundtrack. It was the first time I started to appreciate art from an Asian country. I didn’t think about it sooner, as I took everything for granted. Something was mind-blowing about the film and the unique romantic situation I was in.
“Oka Hiromi, 15 years old,” I clearly remember reading on the screen. Hiromi is a high school student who balances her life as a student and as a tennis player. She and her friend Maki enjoy growing up together. Unfortunately, Hiromi is taught by a brutal coach, who secretly loves her. This love is very similar to what Sylvia Plath once said, “every woman adores a fascist.” The movie is about Hiromi’s transition from childhood to a future career. It is that typical “coming-of-age” film, but also a snapshot of life in Japan during the late 1970s.
Yuiko Mishima died in 1970. Mishima warned that a decade later, Japan would succumb to the Western powers of decadence and Stuff White People Like culture. Japan must either defend itself or perish. But I believe it is indeed, perishing. I believe anime in the 1990s was fully exploited against its people. However, an apex of white interest finally took notice of Japanese culture. But whites were never interested in Japanese pop art prior before the 1980s. And Aim for the Ace! came right at the end of a forgotten decade. Japan has been colonized, and this movie was the final gasp of air.
The film is filled with technological objects of the past. All those “objects” of arcades, movie theaters, bad frame glasses, the synth soundtrack itself, …bad art decor... all these things that show the decay of the Japanese 1970s into the 1980s.
Brandon Adamson, writer of www.altleft.com, fantasizes about a white America that could return to a space-age culture of the 1950s. It’s not so much of an actual ideology with principles, but a subcultural term, “alt-left,” or a classification of an artistic lifestyle, curated by Adamson. Aim for the Ace! could be compared to a Japanese version of this alt-left aesthetic. It’s nostalgia clashing with fine art.
I remember Sarah looking at me while I turned my head in different directions, trying to understand what was going on. Her blue hair waved back and forth like a whip, flipping over her left eye, looking at me when I wasn’t Actually, I was trying to avoid eye contact. I’m sure thought it was just a twee movie to bond over. But I was serious about it. And I was afraid to look at her, in fear she would look back. Maybe I was supposed to hold her hand. I just thought about the movie the entire time, enriching myself in my inner dialogue. I was aroused, and intellectually engaged at the same time.
The interaction between Hiromi and Maki is some of the best Japanese dialogue I have ever watched. Constantly the film portrays the characters in social situations talking about everyday Japanese drama. The cutest part of the film is when both are off from work and have dinner together. The two naturally bond together in an ironic, post-imperial-fascist Japan. We don’t learn about them as characters, but rather, we learn about the society of Japan. How could you have the harsh, and the cute, synthesize together?
...The bustling train, the old architecture, the strangers walking by. ...I was paying close attention to all the “hyperobjects” in detail. Not the plot, but the medium of the film, and the colors I experienced.
My Japanese speaking and writing is very elementary. I can pick up words like a kid and can understand simple concepts. If you don’t know the language, however, it’s better to turn off the subtitles and watch the movie without it. The best art can be understood through a simple, universal, and ignorant language. I wasn’t even paying attention to the English subtitles. I was hearing the screams and the foreign chants.
I could tell the movie was made for a young female audience. Often kiddie excitement is attached to it, abandoning adults to enjoy the film (depending, this only applies to Japanese adults who are kids too). The life of these young Japanese belongs in the system of a post-fascist system. Day after day, test after test, the students obtain all the knowledge of the world, and then use their bodies for competition. It’s not an attitude based upon, “individual work effort,” but a discipline among the Japanese people. Hiromi and Maki are happy with their lives, even though a normie white person might call their lifestyle, “national socialism.” It’s an incredible irony I witnessed throughout the film, thinking to myself, “There is no way Sarah should emulate this behavior if she’s going to be living in the hipster part of West Philadelphia.”
To make things worse, there is even a classic love/hate relationship with the fascist coach, who rules over an entire tennis team of young girls. And he wants to fuck Hiromi. It’s domination. It’s cruelty. ...It’s fifty shades of grey!
That line hits me again, “every woman adores a fascist.”
And then I see Hiromi slowly fall for the fascist coach without a proper Western explanation as to why! This is through a method of constant sadomasochistic torture, and by violent means. Not from her consent, but by force. It reads like a classical tale by Mishima.
What’s wrong with the Japanese!?
This is what disturbs the average white viewer: the thought that the Japanese are violent, innate, fascist beings. The film is unapologetic about discipline and work. The reality of race, and the difference between whites and Japanese. Aim for The Ace! is about these traditional roles and the society we are invested in. It is the love of the Japanese spirit but through the lackluster interest in tennis. No one is ever worthy of attention, unless they win the struggle, and represent their country through a game.
I remember squinting my eyes and taking every bit of the English subtitle as a serious declaration. I didn’t laugh or show any emotion. The movie caught my attention at every second. I like to think about why it’s good.
A good, artsy movie, exploits the camera. The characters in the film act like real people. The film becomes a cultural documentary instead of a cartoon. The plot is ambiguous. One scene could be about gossip, and then the next could have no purpose at all. Don’t watch the movie for the story, just watch it as a moving art piece. It’s an aesthetic and an emotion brought upon the viewer. It is the perfect “stoner” movie, you could argue. I see images projected upon the wall, and I can’t hear anything.
When the movie was over, I remember Sarah telling me to stand up with her, but I didn’t want to. I was still in my seat waiting for the movie to leave my consciousness. I didn’t want to come back to reality. She likely took it as an act of disinterest, or me being irrationally shy.
Me and Sarah went out to eat at some Ramen place after the film. All I remember was her saying, “It was cute,” and just being bored, looking at the side, and not me like I was supposed to take the cue and hold her hand during the show. I disagree it was “cute.” The film moved me so much, I didn’t want to play the game of seduction to get her. I didn’t care and didn’t bother.
But the day after Valentine’s Day, I remember finding the film online and watching it again in my bed. I wanted to feel those deep neglected, emotions again (or “feels” you might call them). And then I thought about how bored Sarah was after the film was over. Maybe I had a chance to be her boyfriend, and I blew it over for being too serious. I chose art over her.
Then I thought about Sarah, and I thought about her cute cheeks, chest, and smile. I found a picture of her on Facebook, took down my pants, and masturbated. I thought about her sucking me off, or ejaculating on her face. I didn’t have feelings for her until now. I felt alive.
That’s a boy’s fantasy. That’s where I messed up on Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t about the movie, was it? I was supposed to ask her out or kiss her. But I failed.
That’s because life itself was aesthetically perfect in that film, and not in reality. And if I learned anything, perhaps Sarah showed me that I could have the same reality in Aim For The Ace!, and I was dumb enough not to see it in front of me.
She was my escape, and I didn’t accept her invitation. The anime-realist college life was right in front of me, and I didn’t even care.
That’s when I realized there is such a thing called desire, and my desire was telling me to go after a certain subculture and art movement.
I now understand my purpose in life, thanks to this film.
Revised on July 12th, 2023.
Originally published on February 20th, 2017.