Hikaru no Go anime review

Hikaru no Go anime review
Hikaru Shindo is just a normal 12 year old boy, but one day he's rumaging through his Grandfather's things to see if he can find something to sell and pulls out an old Go board. A ghostly apparation appears out of the board and tells Hikaru his sad story. His name is Sai Fujiwara, a man who was a Go instructor to the emperor of Japan a thousand years ago. However, because of bad sportsmanship of his opponent during a game, Sai was accused of cheating and banished from the city. With no livelihood or any other reason to live, Sai commited suicide by drowning himself. Now, he haunts a Go board, and wants to accomplish the perfect Go game, called the "Hand of God" which he hopes to do through Hikaru. If Hikaru will be able to do it or not (or even wants to) will have to be seen.

To me, Hikaru no Go is proof that anime can make anything interesting if done well. This title flies in the face of the glut of children’s anime shows in recent years based on card games and video games. Igo (more commonly known as just Go) is the oldest board game in the world, and some assert that it was the first. With over two thousand years of history behind it, that claim is not hard to support. It has been vastly popular throughout Asia for centuries, and almost every major East Asian country has a professional league and schools dedicated to its teaching. Yet in recent decades, the popularity of the game has declined with younger people, with the advent of home video game systems and other popular amusements. Hikaru no Go is an attempt to bring a younger generation into contact with a game that for years has been thought of as being played only by old men and bookworms.

It achieves this end through a superb set of interesting characters, a well-written story (adapted directly from the manga of the same name), and a way of introducing and teaching the game that is both fun and informative without being overly complex or pandering.

Hikaru's character is a good example of this show's aim. He's not some boring bookworm or snobby rich-kid. He's a typical punk elementary school kid with normal adolescent attitudes about most everything. He dyes his hair, talks in slang, and is as generally vivacious and irreverent as any kid his age normally should be. Throughout the series it is great to see Hikaru and his friends and adversaries grow and mature as they find their way, not only through the game of go, but through life. (If only Akira's mother would stop dressing him funny...)

The latter half of the series also gives a unique take on the inside (and often cutthroat) world of professional igo. The depictions of the various places where the game is played, how it is sponsored, and the attitudes of the professional players closely mirror the actual professional go world (with more than a healthy dose of melodrama for effect, to be sure.). Almost as much fun as watching Hikaru and Sai is watching the other pros have at each other in sometimes nail-bitingly tense games.

Most of all, though, the show is viewer friendly. You don't need to know or care a thing about the game of go to walk away with something from this series. Of course, people who enjoy such games of skill will inevitably find more to appreciate than those who do not, but even for more action-oriented fans, Hikaru no Go can be a fine change of pace.

The intro and ending songs are well done, and the background music, while sometimes over-the-top during tense matches, is more than adequate. The animation style is a bit slow and motionless, ala Studio Pierrot, but then again, this isn't an action-packed show to begin with, so it does what it should.

In all, Hikaru no Go is a better than average series that will appeal to a wide range of anime fans, but will specifically be of interest to those that enjoy plot and substance over action. Highly recommended.

Better than review, is a Trailer video of: Hikaru no Go. Watch it now:
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