Posted by psgels on 21 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews




I would like to thank Hikaru no Go for some of the most riveting opening episodes of any long series that I’ve seen in a while. The first arc of this series, encompassing episodes 1 to 14 is masterfully written and an emotional highlight in the way that it toys with its characters. It plays out unlike any other shounen I’ve seen in the way that it throws its young protagonist in a world that he totally doesn’t belong in. With a simple, but extremely chilling soundtrack, it really is a roller-coaster ride that combines an excellent build-up with powerful and gripping drama that really blew me away.

In the rest of the 75-episode run of this series, it calms down a bit and it turns into more of a classic shounen set-up, emphasizing slow and gradual development. It’s a bit repetitive, but said development is still more than worth it to continue with this series until the end. 75 episodes is a lot of time for characters to change, and the creators really make use of this by making not just Hikaru change, mature and grow up, but a wide variety of different characters are portrayed growing throughout the series.

This show doesn’t just look at the Go game itself and its various layers of strategy, but what’s possibly even more important is the place of Go in Japanese society, ranging from how simple amateurs play it to the world of professionals of all kinds of levels, with even a few international side-stories: this series explores the full spectrum here.

Shounen series usually have this tendency to drag out their matches, but Hikaru no Go is a big exception here as well: I don’t think I recall any Go match that took up longer than one episode. Instead, the thing that bothered me that there may have been a few too many matches that simply looked like each other, which are played against similar characters with similar premises that play out in similar ways. I mean, 75 episodes is a lot of time here for things like these to get boring, and especially around the middle there just are a few too many Go matches and characters that look like each other for my tastes, despite making full sense in the story.

Nevertheless, this series still is chock full of interesting twists and tons of well written Go matches that put you to the edge of your seat. It especially sets itself apart with its development, which makes excellent use of its long airtime. At times it takes a bit too long levelling up its lead characters’ Go skills, but it remains a very detailed look in the world of Go, with especially the rivalry between Hikaru and Touya standing out as memorable.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Really knows how to make Go matches exciting, and really likes to toy around with emotions.
Characters: 9/10 – Has 75 episodes and makes excellent use of them to show half its cast change and mature.
Production-Values: 8/10 – I can only imagine how pain-staking it must have been for the creators to draw hundreds of different Go-matches, but what especially catches your attention is the hard-hitting soundtrack.
Setting: 9/10 – An excellent portrayal of Go in Japan. Pays attention of the wide variety in which it gets played.

Suggestions:
Glass Mask 2005
Nodame Cantabile
hunter X Hunter

15 Responses

  1. Avatar Anca says:

    How come you didn’t like this 90+? It doesn’t lack anything and it keeps you constantly on the edge of your seat.

    I liked the go matches. Maybe because I have some history with chess and how interesting a good game can be to watch, so the matches resonated with me, even if I didn’t know anything about the game the first time I watched it.

  2. Avatar Roldan says:

    @Anca you should probably look at the things he criticized and the scoring he gave the show and you’ll notice why it never got 90+

    i really like this show and it’s one of the few anime where the cast grows but also the main character grows without having like a x year time-skip. to bad they never got to the final tournament, i know they made a OVA about it but really it’s a great arc which really takes the go matches to another level.

  3. Avatar Matt says:

    My friend doesn’t understand how i can like this anime. I tell him, Characters, its all about the characters. They are realistic, each have great personalities, and they really work well together. I enjoy the whole series, i might now watch it again, haven’t watched it in a few years. I just like it alot.

  4. Avatar AKI says:

    Finally. You have watched one of the gems of the anime industry!

  5. Avatar Frost says:

    So how would you compare this to Akagi? Better/Worse/Different? Do you need knowledge of Go to enjoy it?

    I loved Akagi even though I dont know jack about Mahjong Lol, but I doubt any other anime is on the same level

  6. psgels psgels says:

    Frost: let me get back on that when I actually watch Akagi.

    I went into this series without any knowledge of Go whatsoever, and I really enjoyed it, but I know too little of Go to really determine whether or not any knowledge of the game will increase or decrease the experience of this series.

    As for the reason that I don’t consider this to be 90/100, material, it’s like I said in the review: 75 episodes is a lot, and there were a few too many matches, characters and episodes that looked a bit too much like each other.

  7. Avatar Nyitora says:

    I’m so happy that you reviewed HnG! I love this series so much. And yeah, you really don’t need ANY Go knowledge to enjoy this series. My knowledge certainly didn’t increase at all, even though my brother plays go.

    And Studio Pierrot, you really need to animate the rest of the manga! There’s some really great scenes that deserved to be animated!

  8. Avatar Kim says:

    I have not seen the anime (besides a few early episodes) but the manga is one of my favorites. I consider it one of the best stories that focus on the drive to become better at something. And despite the supernatural aspect of Sai I felt the whole thing very realistic.

  9. Avatar reyan16 says:

    oh my gosh this anime and manga is one of my all time favorites

  10. Avatar Meep says:

    Well, here’s an anime that I knew about forever, but never ever considered to pick up.. You always do this to me, Psgels.. D: *goes to find it somewhere*

  11. Avatar Firechick says:

    I have an internet friend who’s quite a fan of this, though it doesn’t interest me. I don’t think I’ll be attacking a 75 episode anime any time soon.

  12. Avatar Tan-Tan says:

    Yay thanks for actually blogging it XD (yes, I’m Tanz XD)

    Yea, definitely my favorite next to FMA:B but I do agree it dragged at the 2nd part. I even skipped a number of episodes because of that. But the last parts and definitely the first part were pure of epicness.

  13. Avatar Momo says:

    Oooh. Psgels has finally reviewed one of my most beloved anime. The score is a bit on the low side but nevertheless I’m glad that you enjoyed it. =)

    As a 75 episode anime series, the story, plot and characters are good enough that time flies by when I watched it. The story doesn’t drags, it’s not boring and it’s seriously addicting. IMO 75 episode is not enough. There’s an ova available but even that’s incomplete. :(

  14. Avatar Apollo says:

    I rate HnG as one of my favourites. It’s shounen at its best. The starting few episodes are it’s most gripping parts. Whenever I rewatch the starting eps, they instantly remind me how addictive anime can be. Due to the characters it’s often very emotional and gets serious. Also, Sai is one of the best characters.
    The matches may seem similar but if they are drawn out most of the time it’s for a reason. It tries to educate its audience while trying to keep its entertainment value. I am sure many matches could be skipped if it was purely entertainment, but a lot of its drama also comes from the matches, with dialogues coming from spectators or the characters themselves thinking.
    Too bad they don’t hava anime or manga storylines like this anymore with the start as gripping as it is and keeps it interesting till the end.

  15. Avatar Rory says:

    You say you don’t remember any episode where a match lasted more than one episode. Sadly, there were a few. One I just watched was in episodes 35 and 36, against the Korean boy in the Korean Go salon.

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