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.|