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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
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04/08/2006 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Hikaru no Go, Vol. 1 (DVD)"

Hikaru No Go, Vol. 1 (DVD)
VIZ Media

Review by Tom Good

I have enjoyed the Hikaru No Go manga series, so I was curious to see how it would translate into an anime. The game of Go, while fascinating, is not exactly full of hard-hitting action visuals, so I wondered whether the story would really work as a video. Much like the manga, the anime sticks to a very straightforward visual approach that does not take a lot of chances, but works well and allows the strength of the story to shine through.

When young Hikaru Shindo finds a haunted Go board in an attic, he makes contact with Fujiwara-no-sai, the spirit of a Go master who lived hundreds of years ago, and who wants a chance to play Go again. Though Hikaru is initially not very interested in the game, he plays while letting Fujiwara-no-sai tell him what moves to make. Of course, using this system Hikaru does very well, and he ignites a fierce rivalry with Akira Toya, a very gifted Go player his own age who is on his way to turning pro.

The English voice-over for Fujiwara-no-sai interprets the character as an eccentric goofball. This is not necessarily the wrong choice, but it is also not what I imagined from reading the manga, and it pushes the story more in the direction of comedy. It took me a while to get used to this, but once I did I found it to be pretty entertaining.

This DVD has one mis-feature that I must mention. It contains an un-skippable preview for Naruto. I did not mind watching the preview the first time; in fact, I enjoyed it. The problem is that every time I put this disk in my DVD player I am forced to watch that preview again even though I have already seen it. By the third time it became extremely annoying. I hope that VIZ will rethink this strategy for future releases.

If you like Go, this is a must-see anime. If you do not know anything about Go, this is a pretty good drama that may spark your interest in the game.

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