What They Say
As they break for lunch, Akira confronts Hikaru on the fact that he has discovered that Sai is within him. After the game, Hikaru goes home and goes to sleep...
The series draws to a close with one arc while leaving so much more to go - in the manga.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After quite a good run considering this is a show about playing Go, Hikaru no Go finally comes to an end but in a way that's likely to displease a lot of fans. The show has spent a lot of time building up towards the match between Hikaru and Akira happening again, especially after the aborted one before, so when it finally does happen and we don't get back to it after the lunch break the characters take, it's fairly cruel to the viewer. Having the result of the game revealed in a dream sequence doesn't help ease it either since it feels like it's trivializing the match itself when it's something many have longed to see.
A small portion of the final episode does play out in a dream where Hikaru sees Sai again, though Sai has no words to say at this point. Hikaru's definitely an eager student in all of this though as he's telling him everything that's happened to him and his friends and wanting to share all of it. It's something that's endearing even when it ends in a tearful note, but it's good to see that Hikaru has finally made his peace with everything and is able to move forward again. And that moving forward has him working hard as a 1-dan player, playing against Akira in the salon and through all the competitions and matches where he's become the strongest of them all in his rank because of the extra length of time he's going to be there because of all the matches he missed. Hikaru is moving forward fully and as we see him taking on more and more of Sai's characteristics with a lot of strength, alongside Akira, it's a great moment.
The final episode of the series is short in its own way because the final five minutes or so are given over to the credits, where it alternates between going back for a large chunk of credits or a soundless scene showing us the character moving on with their lives. We also get the last two minutes dealing with the kids who have been learning Go in the live action sequence and it's amusing to see how much they've actually grown up during it. That growing up phase has also been a huge part of Hikaru no Go, something we saw a lot of during some of the flashback episodes and some key memories that came up for Hikaru as he recalled his first meeting with Sai. Both he and Akira have changed, physically and emotionally, in the time since Hikaru took up go. Watching these changes, the slow maturation of the characters from boys into young men, has been the real journey here. Where they are now is a truly fascinating place, one I wish we could see a whole lot more of, but that's for the manga and not the anime as this is where the series ends. As an epilogue episode, it works well but it doesn't start off with that feel quickly because of the match the two boys are in. Once past that and the dream, the show works well, but still leaves you feeling unfulfilled.
And curiously enough, after seventy-five episodes, it also leaves you truly wondering about Sai. Was he a dream, a figment of Hikaru's imagination? Or was he real in his own way in how he came to Hikaru. It's an interesting question, one I wish they spent more time on during the separation of the two, but it's left here for the viewer to decide. Personally, I like to think that Sai was something from Hikaru's subconscious that he dreamed up in order to motivate himself into doing something, finding something worthwhile to latch onto. You almost wonder how the series would play out in a "Garfield Without Garfield" kind of replay though as Hikaru would plainly come off as insane. Yet aren't some of the most gifted of players insane? What a way to leave the series.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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