Alright first Otaku Korner post of the new year. Once again this was one of the anime I featured on my radio show in November 2013. I’ll say up front, that this anime made me want to learn the game this anime is centered around. With that being said, Let’s get started!
For the most part this anime follows the main character Hikaru Shindo on his road from normal 6th grade kid to Go Pro. Before I go into the characters, I should say a little about this game called Go. This is a board game that originated in china 2,500 years ago. Two players use either white or black stones to encircle territory made up of intersecting lines on boards that can be 9X9, 13X13 or 19X19. Once a stone is place it cannot be moves unless it is encircled by the enemy. Simple really, but don’t think that this is a simple game; this game is all about strategy.
Hikaru and his friend Akari are first introduced to this game when they are searching through a shed belonging to Hikaru’s grandpa. When they stumble upon a wooden Go board things start to get interest and Hikaru’s road to going Pro begins, all thanks to a blood stain that only he can see.
The spirit of Fuiwara-no-Sai is attached to that blood stain, and seeing how Hikaru is the only one that can see it Sai possess him. Sai was the Imperial Go instructor back in his hay-day. His career came to an end when the rival instructor cheated in a match to decide who would continue teaching the emperor. Sai got a second chance to play the game he loved through real life Honinbo Shusaku. Now he’s again with Hikaru as his student. Through Hikaru Sai seeks to play the “Devine Move.”
As stated before, go is a two player game. The main rivals of Hikaru and Sai are a father and son team Akira and Koyo Toya. Akira is Hikaru’s rival throughout the series. He is already a strong player when the boys first meet. Hikaru’s seemingly impossible ability amazes Akira, driving him to discover the secret behind his rival’s strength. The amazement is felt by Hikaru as well. Akira’s ability to focus and how seriously he takes the game leaves Hikaru wanting to measure up to him.
Koyo or Toya Meijin is Sai’s rival. Meijin is a title one can achieve as a Pro Go player. Most of the time Koyo is called Toya Meijin. Like Sai, Toya hopes to someday play the “Devin move.” After he is defeated by Sai, Toya retires from the Japanese Go circuit and goes to play in China. He makes a promise to Hikaru to play him in the Beginner Dan series after… Oops spoiler Alert. Mums the word.
Hikaru doesn’t go from novice to Pro by himself; there are other Go players who will challenge him along the way. Akari is one of them. She is Hikaru’s childhood friend who starts to learn go along with him. Although she’s not a strong player, she later becomes the vice-captain of the Haze Middle School Go Club. Akiri also has a crush on Hikaru that is slowly returned as the anime goes on.
Kimihiro is a year older that Hikaru and the captain and founder of the Haze Middle school go club. He is a nerdy character who is normally seen consulting a Go book, although he is a strong enough player without it.
Another Go club member is Yuki. He used to play go for money but when he was out cheated, Hikaru stepped in to play off his debts. After this and much convincing Yuki joins the Haze Go club.
There is another character that shows up from time to time but he’s not a full member of the Go club. His name is Kaga and he is the president of the Shogi or Japanese Chess club. He helps out the go club with a tournament or two and eventually convinces Kimihiro to ditch the teaching book.
Now that’s just an overview of the anime. The manga goes farther than the anime in plot length. I can’t say too much about the manga without giving away more spoilers about the anime; seeing how closely they follow one another. I will say this though, both the anime and manga are great for all ages and like I said before, I wanted to learn this game because of how it was portrayed.
Now I’m sure I haven’t given this anime/ manga the credit it deserves. My best suggestion to you is to check it out yourself. The anime can be found on Hulu, and WatchCartoonOnline. And the Manga can be found at Barns and Nobel, if you are a paper and ink fan, or online at many manga reading sites.