The true match between Sai and Meijin has been a long time in coming, but will it measure up to the fantasy that's been built around it?
What They Say
The wait is over! Sai and Toya Meijin face off in a match that has the entire world glued to their computer screens. Who will triumph and discover the Divine Move?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sai's presence in the world has certainly been interesting and you have to wonder what his true purpose, the one he doesn't know about, has to do with everything. Is he there to find the Divine Move he's sought after all this time in an opponent like Meijin? Is he there to be a challenge for the big players of this age in order to motivate them on to something bigger that he himself cannot achieve? Or is he really there to give Hikaru the push he needed to be a part of this world and discover his true potential that will change the world of Go itself? Suffice to say, there's a lot of hype and build-up with the presence of Sai in the world and you have to wonder whether it will be worth it when he finally gets his chance against Meijin.
The start of the match is certainly theatrical enough but I can't bring myself to begrudge them that because this is an epic match just in the people participating in it. Similar to Hikaru's match against Meijin, we see a good bit of it through the eyes of others, such as Waya's time in discovering that the match is now going and he realizes it must be the real Meijin playing against the well known Sai. Other players from around the world jump in as well as the news spreads and we see their surprised reactions, which is good since there has been such a build up in reputation for both of them. I was very pleased to see that they dealt with the actual game in two modes for display. They show it through the eyes of others with the dots on the screen of the laptops and desktops, but they also give us a virtual view where it looks like the two men are sitting across from each other and playing. The intensity of it and the basics of the visuals, mostly black backgrounds, adds to the importance of the match.
One of the best moments is with Akira as he's hanging out with some other players and there's a lot of talk about how Meijin is doing and the kind of schedule he has. With him collapsing in the midst of a light schedule, it's not so bad, but he has a huge schedule in the next month abroad with numerous matches so there's some amusing joking about how these young turks have to help him out by taking on some of the titles he has so he doesn't have to play as many of them. You can see Akira being okay with this, which is a good thing since he has to grow up watching his fathers' titles slip away in some form, though he obviously wants to be the one to do it. When they learn of the game being played online and check it out, Akira's realization that it may be the Sai who played him two years earlier makes everything worthwhile as it's like a ghost has come back to haunt him again.
Hikaru no Go thankfully avoids overplaying its hand with the game by being intensive about each move and instead allows us to watch portions of it through the views and critical thoughts of others. It also avoids finishing it up quickly in one episode after the build up we've had but hopefully it won't stretch out too long either. There's a lot of people that are extremely intrigued by the apparent return of Sai to the internet world so it's fun to see some old characters return briefly, but the real focus is on Sai. They animate it with a bit of flair and style that works well for it and gives the match the kind of importance that it definitely deserves. There's few shows that can make a strategic game like this exciting in any form other than playing it yourself, but Hikaru no Go continues to do the impossible by making Go exciting to watch in anime form.
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.