Having gotten his groove back by realizing that Go is seriously in his blood, Hikaru gets his rear in gear and remembers that he's a pro.
What They Say
Hikaru's back to his old self and ready to move up the rankings of professional Go. First up is Murakami, a pro who previously defeated Hikaru in the Young Lions Tournament.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Isumi's return and essentially open confrontation with Hikaru is exactly what Hikaru needed to get going again and his time spent with Isumi has shaken him back into reality. For someone like Hikaru, he had a lot to grapple with but like a lot of kids his age, he's able to bounce back fairly quickly and recover his mindset once he's on the path again. What he has to do now though is to get himself back on the pro track by actually playing games again, and he's eager to do that after the match with Isumi. He wants to re-establish himself and seek out the things that he subconsciously knows is out there that he wants to achieve.
Hikaru's return to the matches certainly surprises a lot of people and the rumors flare up quickly as they're reminded that he's considered a rival by Toya. Those who had hoped to cruise by on a game since Hikaru had missed so many are frustrated while those who want to play him and see what he's made of are excited by it. And in the middle of all that are the two young men, Hikaru and Akira, not looking at each other but knowing that they're there in the same place going towards the same goals. It's also a very positive thing that we see his friends from school excited by the news that he's absent for matches and for study sessions, though there's a touch of jealousy among one or two of them as well. Hikaru definitely has a solid support system built up over the last few years in addition to the rivalries that have bloomed.
Hikaru's match against Murakami, someone he lost to way back in the Young Lions Tournament, is definitely a good way to get back into things. From a psychological standpoint it does show him that he's grown better since then and it's a win that helps him move forward on the right track again. Considering the kinds of games that Hikaru has played, especially with Toya's father, Hikaru has certainly earned the reputation he has as well as the variety of rumors that swirl around him. Thankfully, the match is kept without any serious dramatic effect applied to it, particularly since Sai isn't here, so it has a very different feel with less commentary about it and less observation about it as well.
As much fun as the personal matches are between friends and somewhat rivals, watching real competitive matches for rank is a lot more exciting in its own way. The match going on here brings Hikaru and Akira back into the same room again and fully on the same pat while also having Hikaru dealing with a bit of a blast from the past. The episode is a bit subdued overall but it's a key moment where everything that Hikaru has brought to the game since deciding to become a pro is out there. His name is know, his record is growing even if it missed several games, and there are those that are eager to play him and many just as eager to avoid him. Seeing him getting back into the swing of things and moving forward again is a very welcome sight.
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.