Genre: Sports / Adventure
2001 Yumi Hotta, Ken Obata (manga), Shin Nishizawa, Studio Perriot, TV Tokyo.
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Hikaru Shindo is like any sixth-grader in Japan: a pretty normal school boy with a two-tone head of hair and a penchant for antics. One day, he finds an old bloodstained Go board in his grandfather's attic--and that's when things get really interesting. Trapped inside the Go board is Fujiwara-no-Sai, the ghost of an ancient Go master who taught the strategically complex board game to the Emperor of Japan many centuries ago. In one fateful moment, Sai becomes a part of Hikaru's consciousness and together, through thick and thin, they make an unstoppable Goplaying team. Will they be able to defeat Go players who have dedicated their lives to the game? Will Sai achieve the "Divine Move" so he'll finally be able to rest in peace? Begin your journey with Hikaru and Sai in this first volume of Hikaru no Go.
And I don't even know how to play the game... >>> by MarkPoa (written ??.??.2004 posted 01.29.2005)
Yeah, that's right. I don't know how to play a single game of Go. I don't know how to keep track of who's winning. I don't know why the players start off their match that way. I don't know how they can decide who is going to win before the match even finishes.
So how come I'm enjoying this anime series about Go?
The 70-plus episode series Hikaru no Go, from the manga series of the same name, follows the adventures of the young boy Hikaru who finds a ghost hidden in an old Go board. The ghost, Sai, is a very good Go player who has helped other Go players in the past in his quest for the Hand of God, which, as far as I get it, is the ultimate move or game of Go. Hikaru, who knows absolutely nothing about Go, agrees to help Sai in his quest. Ultimately, this leads him down his own path as a professional Go player.
The series gives a good glimpse into the world of amateur and professional Go. It was amazing to see that there were professional players in Japan who were high school kids... and even some that are younger. It's a bit hard to relate with the game in this regard, somewhat...
Even though I didn't know a thing about the rules of the game, the series managed to maintain my interest because of the characters. True, like other sports anime (Slam Dunk comes to mind) the characters get a tad bit too emotional when winning or losing. But as you continue to watch them, you feel connected to their passion for this game. It must be because they seem to put a lot of effort into their training that you admire them.
Throughout the series, you actually see the characters grow. The effect was even emphasized in the opening sequence in the later part of the series as we see Hikaru turn from a loud kid into a slightly-bishounen young man. The character changes are not limited to their physical appearance. For instance, Hikaru, who started out as a kid who would rather have Sai play for him, matured into a confident Go player as the series went on. His rival Akira was initially obsessed with fighting Sai, who played through Hikaru, but eventually learned to respect Hikaru himself. Sai, meanwhile, started out thinking only of his own enjoyment in playing the game, but eventually found himself becoming Hikaru's mentor... to the point of finally letting Hikaru go.
Not that the series is too dramatic... humor is pretty abundant within the series. It's not over the top or crazy like a comedy anime, but it helps to balance the seriousness of the Go battles and drama. Hikaru acts like too much of a brat in the beginning, but fortunately, he's not as annoying as other anime kids I could mention...
Art and sound-wise, Hikaru no Go is only decent. Hey, it's a TV anime show. However, like I said before, the series actually managed to properly subtly show the growth of the characters. In this regard, artwise, the show earns props.
Each episode of Hikaru no Go also has a short live-action segment at the end where a professional Go player gives out tips and beginner instruction. It's a little added bonus that is meant to encourage viewers to learn and play Go, as well as explain a few things within the actual episodes. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to really absorb all the lessons. It might work for other viewers, of course.
So if you fancy a good non-lethal sports anime, want to learn more about the game of Go, or just want to watch a decent anime show, give Hikaru no Go a try. Like me, you might not learn anything about the game, but you'll find a show with decent art and good characters.
Individual Rating: Art/Animation 7; Story 8; Characters 9; Sounds 6