All Hikaru no Go: Journey to the North Star Cup released episodes
"Hikaru no Go: Journey to the North Star Cup" is a much needed fix for those of us who are suffering withdraw symptoms after the main series finished. Coming off the back of the series, I found myself settling immediately into this OVA. And no wonder - it retains much of same feel as the series, so much so that it feels more like a natural continuation rather than a standalone special, and it feels weird reviewing this separately. It re-uses the music from the series and even starts off with highlights from the last episode. It continues right from the point where the series ended, covering the part of the story from Hikaru's purchase of a fan after having that heart wrenching dream, to the qualifications of the North Star Cup, and stopping short of the preparation and participation in the cup itself.\[Note: This review contains spoilers from the original "Hikaru no Go" series, as I'm assuming that you've at least seen the series if you're reading the review for the sequel\]I love the original series, and since the feel of this special is so similar, it probably comes as no surprise that I really enjoyed this too. For me, two things in particular stood out about this special, and it's two things that represents the two aspects that the franchise devoted most of its attention to. The first one, representative of the subject matter go, is a go match played out between Hikaru and a very eccentric player. The match, allegedly taken from a televised exhibition match between two pros in real life, opens with a few incredibly unconventional moves, which leads to an exhilarating and complex battle that spreads throughout the board, marking it out as not only the most exciting game in this special, but also one of the most memorable matches in the entire franchise.The second thing that stood out, representative of the outstanding character aspect of "Hikaru no Go", is Hikaru himself. The main series ended soon after Hikaru recovers from the shock of losing Sai, and although his growth after that event is evident from the remainder of the series, he was still changing by the end of it. And in this special episode, we can see that he has come a long way even from the end of the series. In anime - shounen anime especially - you often get these characters with a special aura. Those characters are cool, confident and totally awesome, but they're already like that when you seen them for the first time: people like Spike from "Cowboy Bebop" and Hiei from "Yu Yu Hakusho" seem to be almost born the way they are, and you never really see the process in which they become so badass. Well, having watched this special, I felt like I've witnessed one of those characters in the making. No longer the young brat who used to get nervous during the important matches, Hikaru now looks (both metaphorically and literally, since he's now rather tall,) every inch like a young, aspiring go player confident in his own extraordinary abilities to threaten even the very best. This is probably epitomised by his fiery exchange of words with Akira, where he confidently claims that he will \*definitely\* qualify for the North Star Cup. It's a scene where Hikaru simply oozed bundles of coolness and glowed with a formidable, tigerish aura. It's a spine-tingling moment, and I absolutely love it.I really like this special, but it does have a major problem. What weakens this special is not what it contains however - it's pretty hard to fault anything that's actually in it- but rather what it doesn't contain. The title may be "Hikaru no Go: Journey to the North Star Cup", but like I said, this is much less about the North Star Cup as the title may suggest than just a straight forward continuation to the series. Everything about it reinforces the impression of the latter - the fact that a lot of it would be considered filler material if we take it as a standalone meant to deal soley with the North Star Cup qualification; the fact that these same "filler" material would fit naturally into a standard continuation of the series. This makes it all the more disappointing that there are no further sequels, especially when you consider that there is so little source material remaining that they probably just needed to make another hour plus special in order to finish off the whole thing. The fact that there is no follow up hurts this special more than anything else, as it is literally left dangling, both as a prelude to the North Star Cup and as a continuation of the series. And this is a crying shame, because overall, the adaptation has honestly been nothing short of superb.