Hikaru no Go
All Hikaru no Go released episodes
Sixth grader Hikaru Shindo stumbles upon a mysterious Go board with a blood stain on it. Before he knows it he's hearing voices, one voice to be exact. The voice of an ancient Go instructor, Sai of the Fujiwara. Sai occupies a space in Hikaru's mind. Hikaru is the only one who can see, hear, or talk to Sai. Sai's one and only desire is to play Go. But he can only do that via Hikaru's body. However, Hikaru has no interest in playing Go. Will Hikaru allow Sai to play? And who is this mysterious young boy, Akira Touya?
The Key Point
With the recent defeat of the Meijin's son, Hikaru goes about his day normally. However, Akira is obsessing over the game he lost. He won't do anything but stare at the Go board and replay the game that he lost. When he gets word that Hikaru is at a Children's Go Tournament, he rushes there hoping to confront Hikaru and ask for a rematch.
Akira Bares His Fangs
After confronting Hikaru, Akira challenges him to a rematch. As they sit down to play, Sai notices Akira's fangs bearing down on him. Will Sai go easy on Akira, or will he crush him? And, what will happen when the Meijin challenges Hikaru to a game?
Kaga of the Shogi Club
Akari invites Hikaru to the Haze Junior High festival. Hikaru reluctantly goes, but cannot find Akari anywhere. So, while walking around he stumbles upon a group of kids around a Go board. Tsutsui, the head of the Haze Junior High Go Club, is holding a competition. The prize is a book entitled "Assorted Tsumego from Touya Meijin's Matches"�. After seeing this Sai is eager to win it. But, can he with the sudden appearance of the Shougi captain, Kaga?
An Inkling of an Awakening
After loosing the game to Kaga, Hikaru is forced into joining a Jr. high school Go Club Tournament. He is to join Tsutsui and Kaga as the third member for the Haze Jr. High Go Club team for the tournament. But when Hikaru insists that he wants to play for himself, will he come out victorious?
A Game of Beauty
The finals of the Third Annual Junior High Go Tournament - Kaiou Junior High V. Haze Junior High. With a score of 1-1 it is up to Hikaru to win it for Haze. Can he do it? And what will happen when Akira spots Hikaru playing?
I'm Not Going to Play You!
Hikaru is now in Haze Middle School and joins the Go club. Akira Toya is now in Kaio. He pays a visit to Haze and challenges Hikaru to a match. Will Hikaru accept to play him?
Rainy Day Strategy
Akira is too good against everyone at Kaio's Go club. The members don't take this sitting down, as three of them plan to take him down.
Akira is still loathed in the Go club, but he doesn't care. Even the club's sensei has bad feelings about him being there. How long will Akira stay in the club?
"Hikaru no Go" is an anime that took me just a week to blitz through, but months to get over. It's the second long shounen series I've seen recently, the first one being "Hajime no Ippo". Even though they both look like the same type of show at first (long running shounens in which the hero goes from a complete n00b at something to being immensely strong... I'm sure you know the kind of stuff I'm referring to here), in reality, they're as different as chalk and... er... chimpanzees.Whilst "Hajime no Ippo" never really broke free of the stereotypical image of its genre, "Hikaru no Go" does, and thus has the potential to appeal to far beyond its primary targetted audience. Both are coming of age stories, but "Hikaru no Go" emphasises this factor like no other - for the first time ever, the true meaning of this coming of age theme hit me full in the face. It may not break any obvious barriers (with tournaments, rivalries, and all the rest of the usual ingredients that's on the standard shounen recipe, it's certainly doesn't have the originality of "FMA" or "Death Note"), but the quality of its writing and profound character development that underpins it set it apart from its brethrens in a subtle but firm way.Shounen this may be, but I'm almost reluctant to call it that because I just know people will mentally file it away in the same category as some of the more shallow anime around... in fact, at first glance, "Hikaru no Go" reminded me of "Yu-Gi-Oh", with Hikaru's unusual hair style and the whole possessed by spirit who's good at the game kind of thing. I was all for having a dig at "Yu-Gi-Oh" for copying ideas from "Hikaru no Go", but having checked the dates, it seem more likely to be the other way round. But that's okay, because thankfully, the resemblance between the two ends with the superficial character design and settings. Yu-Gi-Oh went on to become a repetitive show reminiscent of "Pokemon" whilst "Hikaru no Go" grew into... well, lets just say something far more substantial."Hikaru no Go" begins much like a run of the mill shounen... except it's about go, a board game that originated from ancient China (think chess, but a lot more complex). Not the most exciting of subjects, right? I bet you're already visualising people playing a boring game of go that's decorated by over the top shounen style production such as lightning streaked backgrounds and BGM so epic it wouldn't have sounded out of place in a Gundam anime... and you would be right. Unfortunately, because the subject is a board game, all these age old gimmicks seem not only cliched, but also out of place a lot of the time. (Okay, I'm probably not making the anime sound great so far, but bear with me...) However, by the end of the series, they no longer seem so out of place, because "Hikaru no Go" actually manages to build up into something that fits the epic score and production, and \*that\* is a testament to the tremendous growth of the series.For anyone even remotely interested in Go, "Hikaru no Go" is a must watch. I read somewhere that it's been estimated that this anime single handedly caused the size of the go community worldwide to triple - the impact it's had on the game has been nothing short of phenomenal. The anime used a Japanese pro go player as a consultant during production, and most, if not all the matches shown in the anime are taken from real games played by both historical and modern go players. The games are drawn in painstaking detail, allowing go enthusiasts to freeze frame and examine each situation thoroughly. It's a treat for anyone that plays go - almost everyone at my local go club has seen some of the anime or read some of the manga, and yes... that includes the old men... believe it or not one of even buys the manga (this is even more incredible when you consider the fact that I live in the UK, where go is not a very well known game)! More than this though, the matches can be very exciting even if you don't really understand go. One thing that particularly impressed me is that Hikaru doesn't just lose games, he loses quite a few despite his astronomical progress as a player. In fact he loses at the most unexpected of times, often at critical moments when I expect him to dig deep and come up with the win. This makes Hikaru seem far more human than most of the shounen anime heros, and because you just don't know who's gonna win, it gives the matches that extra spark of excitement that is missing in anime such as "Hajime no Ippo".But as good as the shounen aspect of "Hikaru no Go" is, it could have been better. Normally in this kind of show, too much time is spent on the main activity central to the theme and not enough focus is given to the story and character development that makes up the flesh and blood of the anime. With "Hikaru no Go", a good balance is struck, but I feel there could have been more exciting matches. With a series this long, you would expect to get quite a few memorable matches, but there are actually only a couple of really good ones in "Hikaru no Go". I'm not saying the anime did not feature enough games, just that the ones they did feature could have been better. In quite a few of the matches, they did not show the match properly played out to the end, but instead revealed the results in a round-a-bout way from post-match perspectives. I can see the novelty of this idea when used a couple of times, but it happens so frequently that it gave a lot of the key matches in the series an anti-climatic feel. Don't get me wrong though, there are still many more positives than negatives in this department of the anime.For anyone who's not at all interested in go, "Hikaru no Go" is still a must try. I started watching the anime without any knowledge or interest in go, but I was hooked pretty quickly. This is because it's not go that carries this show along, it's the characters. It's rare that a main character steals the spotlight in a show, and I've heard a few people say that this is no exception - that the main protagonist Hikaru is nothing special. I can't disagree more - there are plenty of interesting side characters for sure, but Hikaru outshines them all. He starts off with this brattish streak not too dis-similar from Yutaro's from "Rurounin Kenshin"... not exactly the perfect hero. But it's this same characteristic makes him such an infectious character. Even as I wanted to frown at his antics, I often found myself grinning instead. It's a great starting point for a character, but what really sets him apart is the terrific development he undergoes in the duration of the series - it's something that really underlines "Hikaru no Go"'s credentials as a coming of age anime. The depth and magnitude of his development is on a similar scale to those found in "12 Kingdoms" (that is to say: of epic proportions), but "Hikaru no Go" manages to take it to a higher level through its subtlety. I remember constantly being aware of the characters' change process when watching "12 Kingdoms", but here the changes were much more natural and it didn't really occur to me how much Hikaru had changed until the end. This is probably the pinnacle for character development because it's the kind of thing that occurs in real life - if you know someone over a couple of years, you might not notice the gradual change in them until you think back to what they were like when you first met them, and this is exactly what Hikaru's development feels like. It's a neat trick for an anime to pull off, and I only picked up on it because of the artwork. There's this point near the end of the seres when a flashback towards an early part of the series took place, and upon seeing the young Hikaru in the flashback I nearly choked... how the hell did he manage to change so much without me noticing?! I originally found the character designs somewhat childish with all the chubby faces, but those have all disappeared, and Hikaru in particular has a more serious look in addition to being a lot taller and having a more adult physique by that point. The contrast is breathtaking, And THEN it occurred to me that Hikaru growing up is not only evident in his change in appearance, but also in his change in personality - he hasn't just grown in stature, but also in confidence and maturity (though the brattish streak doesn't disappear completely, thankfully). In that moment when those two revelations hit me almost simultaneously, I finally saw how far the anime had progressed, and perhaps for the first time, truly appreciated it as the extraordinary work it really is.If I have one major gripe with the anime, it'd have to be the fillers. Up until about episode 60, the anime had done pretty well in terms of fillers. And by that I mean there are none. As far as I can think of, every episode had a connection to the overarching storyline, which is pretty damn good for such a long anime. And then at around episode 60, the story reaches a dramatic turning point... and during the resolvation of this crucial part of the story, the series inserted not one, but TWO blatent fillers. AAAGGHHH! What were they thinking??? If they had to put those two episodes in, it would have made waaay more sense to have them in a lot earlier, as they're like flashback episodes that had no relevance whatsoever to the core storyline at the point where they appeared. But nooo, they had to put it in during what is arguably the most emotional part of the series! A lot of people have complained about the episodes between 60 and 70 being slow and boring, but I think a lot of the blame can be attributed to those fillers. Yes, Hikaru did take a long time to snap out of his piteous state of mind, but I think his behaviour is extremely believable, and is also justified considering the cause of his depression. Recovering too soon would have undermined the turbulent emotions that he must have been going through at the time, and what it all meant to him. Those episodes are probably the ones that would bore a typical shounen viewer, but I personally think that they contained some really powerful moments and are very underrated... apart from those fillers of course. Once the fillers are over, the anime gets back on track and Hikaru's transformation soon completes. To top it all off, the last episode features an incredible dream sequence set against a beautiful chopin-esq nocturne playing in the background. It's a scene that's calm on the surface, but thinly veils such deep emotional content that I was nearly moved to tears. Though not really significant to the plot, that memorable scene is not only one of the most poignant in the entire series, it's right up there as one of my all time favourites.Despite never hitting the exhilarating heights peaked by other shounen classics such as "Rurounin Kenshin" and "Yuu Yuu Hakusho", "Hikaru no Go" is one of the best shounens I've ever watched - it's certainly one of the best anime I've watched in the last couple of years overall, and that's including jugganauts such as "Death Note". I found out after I've watched it that the person who's responsible for the story of "Hikaru no Go" is a woman, and suddenly everything clicked - in retrospect, the feminine touch is very much apparent in the anime: it has the all the usual shounen kick-assery but the "action" is heavily complemented by heart felt character development that's right up there with the best slice of life animes. In fact the attachment I feel to the characters is very much akin to the feeling I get after watching a good slice of life show. And that's not all. I started writing this about 2 months after I finished watching the anime. Since then, I've gone on to read the manga online (I hardly ever read manga, and had never previously read a manga online), joined my local go club, and learnt how to play that gorgeous piano nocturne that featured as the BGM of the dream scene I mentioned earlier. So yeah, "Hikaru no Go" didn't just leave behind an enormous legacy in the go world, in terms of lasting impressions and impact on my own life, this is right up there with the Crest/Banner of the Stars series. And that, coming from me, is saying an \*awful\* lot (as anyone who's familiar with my rabid obsession with \*that\* particular series will tell you).
Director, Episode Director, Storyboard
Episode Director, Storyboard
Episode Director, Storyboard