Sometimes retirement leads you to the place you want to be with your real passions.
What They Say
Fullfilling his promise to Hikaru, Koyo Toya resigns from playing Go professionally, sending shockwaves throughout the world.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sometimes in a sport, one event can radically reshape events and perceptions. The retirement of the senior Toya has caused exactly that as everyone is now reacting to the surprising news. With his support arm being informed as well as the Go association itself, the news has spread quickly and widely. Kurata is upset because he hasn't had a chance to grab a title from him yet, others are simply in shock while some have to deal with the fallout of it by figuring out how to organize the matches based on this sudden exit from the game.
Interestingly enough, the one least affected by it is Akira since he's closer to the reality of things. With the understanding that Sai was involved, he's also able to realize that his father won't be missing the matches or unhappy because he can't play Go anymore. On the contrary, he's spending more time playing matches with people who come to visit him instead and the lack of having to deal with competitions and titles is fairly liberating for him. The things he tried in the last match against Ogata certainly point to a fresher view of the game and a willingness to try new things. The only downside is that he's leaving the world of Go on a loss rather than a win, which is the only thing that I found to be fairly disappointing about the whole situation.
Hikaru spends some time playing against a 3 Dan opponent during his first official game that gets underway, since his match with Akira was won by default, and it's really fun to see this. Hikaru's been playing more for Sai lately than for himself so getting a chance to play his own style is refreshing. It's also interesting to watch how his higher level opponent deals with him by doing research and then counting on Hikaru to be nervous, only to have the match turn around fairly quickly on him. Hikaru's approach is one that Sai sees as leading him to the Divine Move as each new play has him getting better and better. So much so that even Sai continues to be surprised at his growth and perhaps a little jealous and sad about it.
Sai's emotions are certainly rising as he sees his own goals slipping away from him and sees how Hikaru is shining in a way that he hasn't been able to for, what, a thousand years? This episode does some really fun stuff by showcasing the reactions to Toya's retirement as well as the plus side to all of it from Toya's point of view. The real fun is watching Hikaru play against someone a few levels higher than him where he practically ends up just toying with him. The end portion is really good as well as it deals a bit more with the growing tensions between Hikaru and Sai while throwing a curveball into the mix as well that goes back to the very start of the series.
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.