With the pro exam now behind him, it's time for Hikaru to step into a big new world. Though he has to pay some visits to those who have supported and taught him first.
What They Say
Now that Hikaru's gone pro, he can't wait to play all the top pros, including Akira Toya and his father, Toya Meijin'
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Hikaru's victory now set, albeit in a way that didn't really let it shine, he's now fully done with the testing phase and is formally a pro. That's led to some issues at school where some kids aren't so sure of him anymore and his teachers are a bit concerned but also pretty proud of him for achieving so much. While he wasn't exactly a slacker or a truly terrible student, he wasn't one that most expected to amount to something, especially something like this. Hikaru's win and pro status has certainly changed a lot of things for this young man, things he won't even really realize or understand for some time to come simply because of his age and view of the world.
While Hikaru has now become a professional Go player, others from the old Insei group haven't fared so well. Some time is spent showing what's happened to Isumi after his losses, losses that are a bit more crushing since both Hikaru an Waya have moved on. Waya lears from their sensei what happened in that Isumi has quit, which has Hikaru believing that Isumi is fully done with Go in general. There's a very child-like view of how they think Isumi will turn out, but it's sensei Date who makes it plain that someone like Isumi will come again. Hikaru's sad about all of it but he's also quite focused on where he wants to go by getting into games with other pro players, challenging the high ranking ones that as well as Toya. The sense of drama comes from Sai though who is realizing he's becoming less and less connected now to Hikaru and begins to worry that Hikaru may not play against him anymore, depriving him of his one true love.
Much of the episode is about setup and preparation for the next big match, which gets formalized at the very end of it. What we get to see here that's fun is that Zama Oza and Toya Meijin meet up for a match themselves and Meijin is able to toy with him just right for a psychological edge since Akira had played against Oza before and that unnerves him since he thinks that Meijin may be out for revenge. That's not how Meijin plays though but it's a psychological edge that helps. At the same time, Hikaru is getting an education from his Go peers about titles and positions within them, though he does look like a complete neophyte because of how little he knows. Everything starts focusing on the recently started new one dan go series that's coming up and Hikaru is definitely excited by it, but it's his challenger that's giving him goosebumps when he finds out that Meijin has chosen him specifically. The chance to play Meijin is huge, though Hikaru has to be honest that he can't win since he has a hard enough time with Akira, but it's Sai that throws a monkey wrench into things as he makes an intriguing play of his own.
Though it is mostly just a setup episode with only a few dashes of actual Go playing included, what we do get is very good. Hikaru's life is definitely changing and he's going to face a regular run of challengers since there are those who have played against him in the past and talked him up, both in subtle and overt ways. There's a lot going on as they also deal with a bit of the fallout from the pro exam matches and Sai's issues with how far Hikaru has progressed and the way he's seemingly losing him now. At its core though, the show is about Hikaru and while he's cutely frustrated at times, he is learning and he is growing and progressing. His focus on Go is definitely great to see and the dedication at which he's thrown himself at it all the more so. With a very big challenge on the way, it's the first step into a full on new world that's exciting to just think about.
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.