Hikaru's self-inflicted punishment over his relationship with Sai continues and it's really getting to everyone else.
What They Say
With Hikaru giving up on Go, everyone is worried, including his mother, who vents her concerns to his teacher.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
If nothing else, Hikaru is definitely acting like a teenager at this stage of the series. After Sai's disappearance, he lashed out and went off to search for him wherever there may have been a hint of him. With that falling through, and with a couple of episodes of mediocre filler material with other characters and flashbacks, he's been pretty somber and listless as he just attends his classes and doesn't interact with friends and colleagues. Keeping to himself as a punishment for what has happened, he's causing quite a bit of concern among people, be it his friends and Go colleagues to his mother as well. His mood has changed significantly and it's definitely very appropriate for his age and situation.
While most are concerned, some are much more vocal about it. An encounter with Fujisaki has him revealing that he may indeed quit the club, but it's when Mitani comes along that it gets heated. Mitani can't stand to see what Hikaru is doing, nor understand it, so he lashes out at the way he perceives that Hikaru is looking down at him and the others in the club for "just a tournament." It does have some impact on Hikaru as he remembers back a couple of years ago when he was so eager and was trying to get Mitani into the club so they had enough members. Even from a distance Hikaru is earning some scorn as there's a very cute moment with Tsubaki at his construction job where he grumbles about what Hikaru is doing. If he sees him, you'd expect he'd be even more in Hikaru's face.
Everything slowly gets to Hikaru in different ways, especially the bit of peer pressure he gets at school over it. With the club having its participation in a tournament match, he brings himself to actually go see it be steels himself that he will only be watching as the sixth graders player. It's an interesting moment watching him almost tear up upon watching all the intense and eager players going at it, including friends of his. All of it brings back sepia toned memories of his days with friends playing the game, learning it and understanding it. What's intriguing is that as he remembers all of this, it doesn't actually include Sai. It's the memories he has of playing, the feel of playing and his true inner need to play. He's pushing himself subconsciously closer and closer to getting back into the game in a way that doesn't feel overly forced or trite, even if it is obvious.
Hikaru no Go finally gets itself back on track here even if it is without Sai. This is one of the first Sai-less episodes that works well since it has Hikaru really facing his issues and we're seeing the way others are reacting to it and pushing back against him in more interesting ways than before when they were mostly hands-off and unsure of what was going on. With his parents, friends and colleagues all being concerned, seeing how Hikaru is slowly pushing himself back towards it all without realizing it, while acting very much like a teenager, is spot on and very enjoyable. This is the episode that marks a return to what makes the series good.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.