Hikaru no Go
Eien no Rival
Copyright: © 2001, Hotta Yumi, Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Avex Mode, Studio Pierot
Length: 25 minutes
Rating: NR, Suitable for Family Viewing
Format: Original Japanese Dialogue (VHS, DVD)
Shindou Hikaru is your typical sixth grade student with a slightly unusual new hobby. One day, when going through his Grandfather's things looking for something he could sell to get money, Hikaru discovers an old Go board. Cleaning it off, he finds an unusual bloodstain that refuses to come out of the board. However, his friend Akari who is with him at the time, can't see the stain. As Hikaru struggles to remove the stain, he hears the voice of an old Go master's spirit - Fujiwara Sai.
Sai once taught Go in Heian Kyoto. Challenged to a match by a fellow master and teacher to determine who would teach Go in the capital, Sai caught his opponent cheating. However, when told to continue with the match, Sai, unable to re-focus on the game, lost and was then forced to leave the city. Severely depressed and unable to come to grips with the manner of his defeat, Sai drowned himself two days later. Sai's spirit however, was unable to rest wanting to continue to play Go and master one last stategy...
I-Go meets anime! I have to admit, when I first thought about this concept, I was rather leery about picking up this title. Childhood memories of this strategy game didn't endear the series to me. However, while game play does happen in the episodes, understanding of the game itself isn't important. Rather it is the character story that slowly unfolds that keeps viewers focussed.
Here in this first episode, viewers are introduced to the main characters Hikaru and Sai as well as a Go player who will likely become Hikaru's chief rival - Touya Akira. The characters are introduced in an interesting and easy to understand manner with some good character background being given on Sai. The characters themselves are portrayed strongly by the seiyuu who are well in character.
The animation is standard TV quality animation; very clean with strong colours and cleanly designed characters. Overall there is good detail in the various scenes, although there are a number of still scenes, stills and pans as well as more limited shots. One minor peeve in the animation is in the opening scenes when the show begins. Viewers are treated to some nice animation of a maple leaf flowing down a stream of water. However, because of the shadowing, the leaf seems to be floating in mid-air.
Overall, there's a good mix of background melodies that adds to the overall viewing experience. Use of string melodies during Sai's story adds to the melancholy and tragic nature of his story. Other background melodies also add to the various scenes including lighter melodies for more humourous scenes. Suspenseful strains during the Go match between Hikaru and Akira adds a level of tension and suspense which helps maintain viewers focus on the game and the episode at hand. All in all an intriguing beginning to this first episode. While some may find the game play aspects difficult to grasp if not rather dull, those who can accept the game play basis to the storyline will find this an intriguing beginning to the story that has yet to unfold.
- JYN, 2002.06.18
café rating (original japanese):
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Page last modified 2002.06.18