Anime Review: Hikaru No Go

Genre: Slice of life/Fantasy

Studio/Creator: Pierrot/Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata

Distributor: Viz, also streams legally on Hulu.

No of episodes: 75

Suggested Age: any

My Rating: 10/10

Summary: Hikaru is a junior high student. One day he discovers a Go board.  But the board is possessed by Sai, a Go player from Japan’s feudal era.  Sai died without fulfilling his dream–to achieve “the divine move”.  Hikaru quickly learns that he has a potential that he never knew.  Sai teaches Hikaru about the ancient game so that they can both achieve their dreams.

Review: Hikaru No Go illustrates something I really like about anime. They can take a concept that doesn’t seem like a  winner and prove the skeptics wrong.  An anime about a boy learning to play a centuries-old board game? Can it really be that good? Yes, it can.

The animation is consistently great. I said back in my review of Legend of the Millennium Dragon that I am not a big fan of this studio.  True, they did create three of my favorite programs–Yu Yu Hakusho and both versions of Naruto, but even those didn’t always entertain.  Here the style is great.

I also like the arcs that develop during the course of the story.  We see Hikaru start out as a bratty boy who has no interest in the game. He originally relies solely on Sai’s advice, essentially using him to cheat and win.  But as his confidence grows, he begins to rely less on Sai and decides to choose his own path. This means he doesn’t always win. He loses quite a few times throughout the story, and learns from these losses.  He earns the respect of his peers and pros as he moves from being a mere student to become a very young pro. Because of this, I wanted to cheer Hikaru on. I loved this concept from start to finish. I thought it was refreshing to see a show that didn’t rely on battles between good and evil, but instead on the strength of its characters .

Sub/Dub: I was only able to watch the sub.

Music/Score: The music was pretty good. I liked both the first and third openings, and some of the closing themes too.

Violence: (0/10) I saw very little violence. I think there was one fight, but that was it.

Language: (1/1o)

Sexuality: (0/10)

Nudity: (0/10)

Religion: (0/10) Except for the appearance of Sai, there is very little religious material in this show.

Drugs/Tobacco: (1/10) I did see a few characters smoking.

Related Media: This is based on the manga Hikaru No Go, published in America by Viz.

Trivia: According to the opening credits, a Go master was consulted to add authenticity.  Also, the Japanese voice actress who played Hikaru, Tomoko Kawakami, died in 2011 of ovarian cancer. Tomoko is also best known for voicing Utena in Revolutionary Girl Utena.

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