The end of the pro exam is here and the tension are incredibly high.
What They Say
It's down to the wire as to who will make it into the world of the pros. Will Hikaru upset Ochi, the newly crowned pro, or will Isumi sneak by with his four losses...?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the DVD release finished out at episode 45 towards the end of 2007, I have long lamented that I wasn't able to see more of this series. While the dub version was available through the early 70's on Toonami Jetstream, the subtitled version I was watching on DVD wasn't. But now Viz Media has finally gotten up to the unreleased episodes on their streaming site, partnered through Hulu, and we've can get back into it after a very lengthy hiatus. Admittedly though, we haven't gone back to watch those episodes so we're jumping back in with a bit of a disconnect, but a fond memory of what we had seen.
Hikaru's growth throughout the series has long been impressive, especially when we do go back to the very start and remember how he was when he first met Sai. That he's now taken it so seriously and worked so hard at it, Hikaru has become a very engaging and creative player in his own right. Of course, having the tutelage of Sai for so long certainly didn't hurt either, but there's a certain pride to Hikaru that keeps him from relying on Sai for help and training. He's playing far more competitively than ever before when he does play Sai and with a growing amount of calculation and intensity. All of it is to pursue his goal of taking on Akira who himself has progressed significantly as the prodigy among this relative age bracket.
That age also plays into the pressure of things, such as the sequence that has Akira being mildly interviewed by a magazine reporter. He goes on about records and streaks, particularly as Akira is on a very good streak himself, one that's very impressive for a rookie, but you can see the weight of it all being placed on him. The expectations of others is not something he's comfortable dealing with after all this time, even with all his father has placed upon him as well. There's also the pressure of wanting to know what's going on with the pro exam as he's now very invested in Hikaru's growth as it may be that player who gives him the kinds of challenges he needs to really succeed and exceed his own expectations.
I was disappointed in this episode that they didn't show more of the match between Hikaru and Kosuke since it was such a defining moment for Hikaru. On the plus side, we do get to see some interesting ramifications from it once school gets back in session, as well as how Toya was rebuffed by Kosuke upon asking to have the match replayed. For Hikaru, his friends at school aren't exactly put off by him, but there's something different about him now and there's a touch more distance for some of them. Hikaru's mother also takes a turn at the school where she talks with his home room teacher and tries to understand what will happen next, both with the difficulties of school and how it'll affect the family financially. There are some nice moments here but it felt like it needed to be in the next episode so that the final go match would have gained more importance.
It's definitely good to be back into the swing of Hikaru no Go. These characters are all fun, though Hikaru himself doesn't get much screen time until the second half after the match is over. His delaing with the way life has changed is the best part of the show since we don't get all of that match and it's fun watching him go through it. I also really liked watching how Akira dealt with everything thrown at him in this episode, from the pressures of his own career to wondering what will happen with Hikaru and their eventual rematches should Hikaru become a pro. All in all, it's a decent episode overall and sets up for the next stage of the series which I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of now.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.