Hikaru no Go Vol. #07 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Hikaru no Go

Hikaru no Go Vol. #07

By Chris Beveridge     March 28, 2007
Release Date: March 27, 2007

Hikaru no Go Vol. #07
© Viz Media

What They Say
Hikaru is determined to play his rival Akira Toya again, and he might have a chance when Ogata 9-Dan invites Hikaru to the Young Lions Tournament. However, while trying to qualify for the competition, Hikaru suffers a losing streak. Can Sai help Hikaru rekindle his passion for the game? And why is Ogata 9-Dan so interested in Hikaru?

Contains episodes 25-28:
Fear and Impatience
Welcome to the A League
A Place to Return
The Young Lions Tournament

The Review!
Hikaru continues to grow in his skill at playing Go and finds himself wrapped up in a new goal.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a fairly standard stereo mix with a lot of the show being focused around dialogue as opposed to action effects or even all that much music. Both play into the show well at times with various effects but they're not dominant. The dialogue however is nicely done with plenty of placement due to the nature of Sai's voice effectively being able to come from anywhere. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions with either language track.

Originally airing back in 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source materials for this show are in great shape which has resulted in a very good looking transfer here that is essentially problem free. This set of episodes seemed prone to a bit more line jitter, often coming just before scene transitions, which proved to be rather distracting. Beyond that, the only area where we could really find much issue on our setup was during some of the angled panning sequences over the Go board where the numerous close lines started to shake a bit which is essentially just a product of NTSC. Otherwise, the show has some very vibrant and strong colors in key places and maintains a solid real-world style color scheme that helps to highlight the more unusual aspects that come into it.

Sai gets the foreground this time with a nice looking shot of him in his full garb that makes him look like he's in teacher mode. He's surrounded by Hikaru and a few others that accent these episodes. The style and design is decent though with the large size logo it all looks a bit busy and cramped. The back cover brings in the logo again at the top and has a brief summary of the shows premise and lists the episodes and titles. Between that and the discs features (and obvious plug for the manga) there are a few bubbles of shots from the show. The bottom portion goes for a heavy credits listing and some basics in the copyright and required logos but no technical grid. The insert for the release has a softened image of a Go layout while laid on top of it is the episode list with their corresponding chapters. The reverse side is a big push for the Shonen Jump magazine and the various graphic novels.

The main menu is nicely done with a mixture of animation and static pieces. The main static image wraps around an oval along the right side where clips and stills from the show play out. The left side brings in the series logo and as close to an action pose as you can get with Hikaru and the Go pieces while next to him below the clips is a board load with pieces on it and each of them being set next to a navigation selection. The layout is very easy to navigate and the style used is very much in theme with the show and looks solid. From the menu, you can perform language selections easily and each can be toggled so you can get English language with English subtitles, or turn subtitles off, but what is really bothersome and is either poor authoring or inane license restrictions is that you cannot change subtitles on the fly. This feature is locked out and locked out features that are considered basics of the format is simply wrong. I had hoped that Viz would fix this in the future but apparently it's something that they cannot do; the insert with this volume provides a bit of text along the bottom indicating that you cannot change the subtitle tracks on the fly with your remote. That likely removes incompetence as the reason for it and puts it in licensing restrictions which really doesn't make sense since you can still manipulate them to get what you want, just not on the fly.

A small but good selection of extras makes their way into this volume. The best one is that there's a brief but useful glossary/liner note section that covers some of the various terms and retained Japanese words as well as a few Go concepts. This is followed-up with a section of sketches and storyboards as well as another of the manga preview sections.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hikaru no Go gets closer to the episode thirty mark with these four episodes as it sets Hikaru on a new path. His efforts to join the Insei have certainly paid off and he's found himself in a much tougher world than he has before. The price he's paid was clear in the last couple of episodes as he can no longer play in amateur events with his friends at the school. His life is quickly becoming much more focused on the world of an Insei.

Though he's had some successes at what he's doing, Hikaru now finds himself on a serious losing streak. He's still learning and growing as he's playing all of these games across different opponents but he's been losing more than anything else. Most of the games tend to be close but there's something about his style of play that's keeping him from really going for the win and doing what he needs to do. Sai can see this over the course of all these games and he's figured out why Hikaru is playing like this. It's an interesting twist on the teacher/student relationship that makes a lot of sense in this particular kind of game.

The focus of this volume, beyond Hikaru getting back into the game properly, revolves around the upcoming Young Lions Tournament. This tournament pits the top sixteen Insei against a series of pro's across a few games. As the tournament generally goes, Insei rarely make it past the first or second rounds so it ends up becoming pro's playing against each other more than anything else but on occasion there are flashes of greatness as an Insei goes to the third round. This year has a lot of anticipation going on since Toya is going to be playing there. While Hikaru does want to catch up to Toya, he's still far enough away that he's not even in the right rung to be able to participate in the tournament. That means he's spending the bulk of his time working through his problems in trying to become one of the top sixteen players in the A group. Since he's still in the B group he has a lot of work to do.

The storyline in this volume about Hikaru's progress works well though it feels a touch less focused than previous arcs. Hikaru spends a lot of time playing against Waya so we get to know him a bit better which helps. Hikaru's been mostly by himself in a sense since becoming an Insei so the closer relationship with Waya helps to humanize the group more. So many of them are just bundles of stress that there isn't much to work with outside of a couple of key players that we follow during the matches. A good bit of time is also spent among some of the teachers and higher ranked pro players as we see them watching the young Insei and predicting their progress against their own skill and others as well.

The one area that I enjoyed for the way it dealt with a real world problem for Hikaru was in how he has to deal with his friends. Though he's had to give up playing in the amateur tournaments, he still hopes to be able to go by the Go club at the school and hang out and play with them there a bit. Unfortunately, the few that are left there don't want him to do that since it would intimidate new players as well as throw off the general dynamic. There's also a particular former player who may not come back to play if he's there considering how past games went. Time has been progressing as well and a couple of people in the school have now graduated which helps to show that things continue to change. Hikaru's progress is something that hasn't been quick or simple nor without consequences.

In Summary:
Hikaru no Go continues to be an enjoyable series but this volume felt slightly off for some reason that I can't quite pin down. The Young Lions Tournament arc isn't anything special though even if it does force Hikaru to grow as a player more. There isn't a lot of tension to these games nor to the events in general here. There are some really good moments though, such as the discussion about the internet games that Waya and Hikaru have that make a few awkward revelations. Every series has its lull and these episodes, while certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination, just don't have quite the oomph and impact that previous ones have had.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Go Glossary,Storyboards & Sketches

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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