Hikaru has returned to form and the rivalry between him and Akira rises quickly to the surface again.
What They Say
The match-ups for the Meijin Qualifiers is out and it's Hikaru vs. Akira in the first round.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Much discussion in the adult circles of the series has been on the new wave of Go masters that are coming up through the ranks. With a lot of the older ones from the previous generation getting up there in years and some of them like Toya retiring, the competition is fierce to move in on that territory. You have some of them like Ogata who has made his move as he comes across as being in between the generations, but the majority of them are down in the realm of Akira and Hikaru's age with many spectators and punditry commenting that they may be the ones to lead the next generation into prominence.
Hikaru's continual playing at this point in time is welcome since he strengthens his own game as well as those around him and that play against him. He's playing well without being overly aggressive or a cruel player. He's kept to who he is and is just building up his strengths and focusing on the game itself with nary a thought of Sai. All he's waiting on at this point is for the information to come in about the scheduling for the Meijin Qualifiers so he can know when he's playing and who he's playing against. With just two more episodes to this series after this, everything is taking on a rushed feeling as he's scheduled to play Akira in two weeks, a match he's looking forward to but not without some tension and nervousness since it's such an important one.
Those two weeks are a blink of an eye here as it shifts to the day before where we see Hikaru preparing himself for the match the next day. The various matches of the day are lined up well, and Hikaru along with Waya have the good news that Isumi has passed his pro exam by being undefeated, thereby winning the spot early. That's lost to the tension though when Akira arrives and the two basically stare each other down before heading into the hall for the actual game. The mood between the two is strangely inspirational to Waya and Ochi as both of them see what Hikaru and Akira are like and think of them as players who are looking so far ahead that just their gaze causes everyone else to fall away from view. And it's interesting to think about what Hikaru and Akira have been like as Hikaru says plainly just how long it has been since the two have played. Hikaru has grown by leaps and bounds yet Akira just seems angrier.
Once the matches are about to begin, and pretty much from when Akira and Hikaru first meet again, the show takes on a much more serious and heavy tone, largely due to the music which makes it all seem so much more important than it is. Key games to be sure, important moments in the lives of several, but not quite to this epic level which reduces it to a caricature almost. That said, the mood between Hikaru and Akira is really well done and bringing these two to the table again after so long apart is what much of the show has been building up to. I just wish it didn't feel so rushed all of a sudden, and that it was without at least a glimmer of Sai considering all that has happened. Still, there's a lot to like overall here and it's certainly making these last episodes important ones.
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.