Ah, the silliness of making the episode title so obvious as to what the show will be about. Who will be Hikaru's first opponent? Hmm, could it be... Akira?
What They Say
All dressed up to receive his 1-dan certificate, Hikaru learns about the Oteai, a series of games that determine a player's ranking as well as who his first opponent will be.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As much as Hikaru has progressed, it's really amazing that nobody has sat him down to read a book on the basics or that nobody has simply sat him down and schooled him personally. To the surprise of others, he's become a pro without learning how advancement works for the pros among the various dan ranks. And everyone sort of just chuckles and laughs in that "oh, Hikaru" kind of way, like he's a special child. His progress has been amazing and he's certainly growing up a lot, but he's still a little kid in a lot of ways and someone other than Sai really needs to guide him better.
Hikaru's all dressed up at long last as he's going to get his 1-dan certificate having pass his exams and all and that means hobnobbing with other Go players. He's able to hang out with a couple of friends along the way but he also comes across Kurata there, who is still indignant that Hikaru didn't know who he was. Hikaru's definitely looking sharp in a suit as well as taller and older than he's felt for awhile now, though when placed against other adults he's still coming across as young. But the little boy we felt from the start of the show isn't there anymore. Even more so when he comes across Akira and there's tension in the air, mostly stemming from Akira's side, as Hikaru is just glad to see the person that he's looked up to and wanted to play seriously against as a rival.
With everything being official, Hikaru and the others get their Oteai packet information which shows who they're playing and when over the next year as well as various other things. Hikaru's obviously going up against Akira in his debut match as a pro, as evidenced by the episode title, and Hikaru is somewhat conflicted over it at first considering how Akira has treated him since seeing him again. Still, having his rival-goal as his first match is definitely exciting for him since even if he loses, he can still gauge where he is in the grand scheme of things. With the two finally having a match again, there are some nice if amusing echoes from the past that come into play as both young men have their own issues with each other. Even more so now that Hikaru has played his father straight out, a move that surprised Akira when he found out.
Hikaru no Go sets up for quite the showdown here but it sort of lets the air out of the balloon at the last minute and goes in a different direction, one I'm not sure that I'll like as it could feel like a distraction. Everything before that is spot on fun though as we see Hikaru is still just as clueless as usual but that he is starting to grow up a fair bit as well. The changes in him are likely subtle over the first fifty episodes, but contrasting the Hikaru of now, especially in his suit, with who he started as back in the first episode, you get a very different character in a lot of ways. And that's some decent storytelling there that he's achieved his goals more through hard work than anything else. I just wish he would pick up a book by now and figure out the rules that surround the game so he can survive without looking like a goof.
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.