Hikaru no Go was a long running manga written by Hotta Yumi in the late 90s, early 2000s. Of course, it got an anime adaptation. I’ll be honest, it’s an anime based off of a board game. I don’t see much possibility of it being good or interesting. Will it surprise me? It’s possible. The Hollywood film, Clue is based on a board game too and it’s hilarious. Let’s take a look at the anime and find out.
Our story begins with a boy with ridiculous, multi-coloured hair, Shindou Hikaru, going through his grandfather’s garage. He comes across an old Go board with a stain that only he can see. The ghost of a Go player named Sai from ancient times emerges and inhabits a corner of his mind. All Sai desires is to play Go and, being unable to do anything on his own, he quickly drags Hikaru into the game. Hikaru quickly gains an interest in playing and decides to become a professional Go player. The story is pretty boring. There are no real stakes and it lacks any real tension since all they’re doing is playing a board game. They try to make up for it with absurd levels of melodrama, but that only makes the story stupid in addition to being boring. Everything also moves far too slowly. I nearly fell asleep on several occasions while watching episodes just because nothing remotely interesting was happening. They could have finished the series in half the time without all the bloody padding.
The series could have been interesting if the characters were capable of carrying the premise. Unfortunately, the characters are really flat. You don’t know anything about most of them aside from one or two minor pieces of information. Most of them rely on cliche personalities and just come across as stale. To make matters worse, Hikaru is an insufferable brat and Sai spends a great deal of his time whining. Neither one is well fleshed out or even sympathetic.
The art ranges from fine to sub-par. Most of the time it does its job but characters tend to have borked faces and random motion lines get added to the Go games in a failed attempt at creating excitement. Frankly, the art looks more like it was done in the late 80s than the early 2000s.
The voice acting is pretty standard. No one does an outstanding job but there’s no one who does horribly either. The music is the best part of the series and even it isn’t great. It’s just decent.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. There are some female characters in minor roles but you barely see them interact and they certainly don’t have developed enough relationships to be able to identify what kind of relationships they share aside from a very general “friendly.”
My final rating for Hikaru no Go is a 4/10. You might enjoy it if you’re really interested in seeing an anime based on professional Go, but even that’s unlikely given the boring story, bland characters, dull art and uninspired voice acting. You’d think that watching the games might be enough for Go fans, but you don’t even see enough of the Go games to get invested in them or to be able to tell how they went aside from knowing who’s winning. The end result is a sub-par series.