With the tale of Hikaru's earlier days with Sai out of the way, it's time to focus elsewhere, this time on... Isumi?
What They Say
In order to rediscover his game, Isumi goes to China where he meets a young, impulsive player who bares a striking resemblance to a friend and fellow former Insei...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hikaru no Go is in that sort of listless phase at this point after dealing with the issue surrounding Sai's disappearance. Having him gone for several episodes and having Hikaru chase after him is definitely a nice angle to play and it fits in with the overall narrative, though it may go on just a touch too long depending on what you really want out of the series. Spending the previous episode with a flashback tale to the time when Sai and Hikaru were still new to each other was decent but it was definitely full of filler material since it was reminiscent of a recent story as well. For this episode, a good bit of time is spent on focusing on a player who left the Go scene almost a year ago after not making pro.
The insei days are a popular topic here with the launching off point talking about what Isumi is doing. Waya's frustrated by what Hikaru has done in quitting Go for reasons that haven't been explained so he does his best to confront him. It's actually nice to get a bit of an update on the other insei who didn't make it pro and to hear that they're still training hard at everything so they can pass the test the next time around. Hikaru's definitely acting younger than his actual age during the confrontation though since he's still very out of sorts when it comes to Sai's disappearance as all that's on his mind is finding him.
The China adventure is pretty simple when laid out in front of us as it's more about exploring how Go is set up there with the China Go Institute and how many of the participants live there. Those who make money or get married end up renting nearby since they don't want to be far from the place so they can perfect their play of the game. There's a decent educational aspect to it here as Isumi and those he's with are shown how it's all designed and Isumi sees a lot of opportunity to learn and expand his game here by playing against some of them. Amusingly, one of the younger students there is the spitting image of Waya which really throws off Isumi and causes an amusing distraction during the introductions.
It's good to see Isumi starting to regain some of what made him who he is while in China as he meets people that start to give him the challenge and motivation he needed. It's cute that they bring in someone like Waya there for him since it sparks memories of the past and I liked the small bit involving Waya himself as he tries to shake Hikaru back into reality by joining the insei as a way to motivate him again. Still, this episode left me wondering when we'd get back to the real thing in the show rather than these small side stories that don't add all that much to the overall narrative, even as enhancements of the world the show has built. It's a decent episode, but it's empty of anything of value in the larger scheme of things. Isumi's a good character but I don't think he needed a whole episode after all that's happened and the time since he left the pro exam.
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.