Hikaru no Go
|Hikaru no Go|
English cover of the first manga volume
|Genre||Coming-of-age, sports supernatural|
|Written by||Yumi Hotta|
|Illustrated by||Takeshi Obata|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Original run||January 8, 1999 – July 28, 2003|
|Anime television series|
|Written by||Yukiyoshi Ōhashi|
|Music by||Kei Wakakusa|
|Original network||TV Tokyo|
|Original run||October 10, 2001 – March 26, 2003|
|Anime television film|
|Hikaru no Go: Journey to the North Star Cup|
|Music by||Kei Wakakusa|
|Original network||TV Tokyo|
|Released||January 3, 2004|
Hikaru no Go (ヒカルの碁, lit. "Hikaru's Go") is a Japanese manga series based on the board game Go, written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The production of the series' Go games was supervised by Go professional Yukari Umezawa. It was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1999 to 2003, with the chapters collected into 23 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha.
It was adapted into an anime television series by Studio Pierrot, that ran for 75 episodes from 2001 to 2003 on TV Tokyo, with a New Year's Special aired in January 2004. Viz Media released both the manga and anime in North America; they serialized the manga in Shonen Jump in addition to releasing its collected volumes in entirety, while the anime aired on ImaginAsian in addition to a DVD release that was cancelled prematurely.
Hikaru no Go was well-received, with over 25 million copies in circulation and winning the Shogakukan Manga Award in 2000 and the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2003. It is largely responsible for popularizing Go among the youth of Japan since its debut, and considered by Go players everywhere to have sparked worldwide interest in the game, noticeably increasing the Go-playing population around the globe.
While exploring his grandfather's shed, Hikaru stumbles across a Go board haunted by the spirit of Fujiwara-no-Sai, a Go player from the Heian era. Sai wishes to play Go again, having not been able to since the late Edo period, when his ghost appeared to Honinbo Shusaku, a top Go player of that period. Sai's greatest desire is to attain the Kami no Itte (神の一手, "Divine Move") – a perfect move. Because Hikaru is apparently the only person who can perceive him, Sai inhabits a part of Hikaru's mind as a separate personality, coexisting, although not always comfortably, with the young boy.
Urged by Sai, Hikaru begins playing Go despite an initial lack of interest in the game. He begins by simply executing the moves Sai dictates to him, but Sai tells him to try to understand each move. In a Go salon, Hikaru twice defeats Akira Toya, a boy his age who plays Go at professional level, by following Sai's instruction. Akira subsequently begins a quest to discover the source of Hikaru's strength, an obsession which will come to dominate his life.
Hikaru becomes intrigued by the great dedication of Akira and Sai to the game and decides to start playing solely on his own. He is a complete novice at first, but has some unique abilities to his advantage; for instance, once he has a basic understanding of Go, he can reconstruct a game play by play from memory. Through training at Go clubs, study groups, and practice games with Sai, he manages to become an Insei and later a pro, meeting various dedicated Go players of different ages and styles along the way. He also demonstrates a natural talent for the game and remains determined to prove his own abilities to Akira, Sai, and himself.
Hikaru enters the Hokuto Cup, an international tournament for under-18 Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Go professionals. As the highest-ranking under-18 pro, Akira qualifies for the tournament, but Hikaru has to compete in a series of games to become one of the three Japanese competitors. His friends Waya and Ochi also enter the qualifying matches. He meets Kiyoharu Yashiro, a player from the Kansai Ki-in, whose style is as strange and offbeat as his own. Hikaru, along with Akira and Kiyoharu Yashiro, are selected to represent Japan, while Suyong Hong (a Korean Go player who was beaten by Hikaru earlier in the series) and two others represent Korea and three of Shinichiro Isumi's Chinese friends represent their country.
The captain of the Korean Go team, Ko Yong Ha, is interviewed and his remarks are translated for Japanese viewers. The translator makes an error which causes it to appear that he is disparaging the skill of Honinbo Shusaku, who, like Hikaru, was possessed by Sai. Although Ko Yong Ha later finds out, he refuses to correct the error and instead emphasizes it when he realizes that it enrages Hikaru, who takes it as a direct affront to Sai. Considering their achievements and skills, Hikaru is still slightly under Akira. Therefore, their team coach, Atsushi Kurata, chooses Akira to be the captain. However, Hikaru wants to play against Ko Yong Ha, who is the captain in Korea, in order to show him that Sai is the most skillful Go player in the history of the game. Atsushi Kurata grants Hikaru's request when they play against Korea in the tournament because he sees the burning spirit in him. At the end, Hikaru loses by only half a point. Japan eventually comes in last, behind Korea and China. But the Japanese team impressed both professionals from China and Korea because they did much better than what was expected. At the end of the game, Ko Yong Ha asks Hikaru for his reason for playing Go. With tears in his eyes, he answers with the line "To link the far past, with the far future". The hidden meaning of this line indicates the links and emotional relationships between Sai, Shusaku, and Hikaru. However, no one understands the context of this line besides Hikaru.
A bonus story, set shortly after the Hokuto Cup event, shows two Inseis, who are ranked 14th and 16th in the group, discussing whether Akira Toya or Hikaru Shindo were stronger. In the Young Lions tournament, they are each paired with Hikaru and Akira, making them change their minds about who is stronger. In the second round, Hikaru and Akira are paired against each other and begin a match, but the conclusion is unknown.
Written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, Hikaru no Go was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from January 8, 1999 to July 28, 2003. Go professional Yukari Umezawa (5-dan) provided "supervision" for the series. The 189 chapters were collected into 23 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha; the first published on April 30, 1999 and the last on September 4, 2003.
Viz Media acquired the North American English-language rights to Hikaru no Go in June 2003. The series debuted in the January 2004 issue of Viz's Shonen Jump magazine, released in December 2003. However, after the April 2008 issue it was replaced by Slam Dunk. They released all 23 collected volumes from May 19, 2004 to May 3, 2011. Unlike the Shonen Jump serialization, the collected volumes from Viz were censored. Instances of cigarettes were removed, as were some clothing designs and actual trademarks.
Hikaru no Go was adapted into an anime television series by Studio Pierrot. It was broadcast on TV Tokyo from October 10, 2001 to March 26, 2003 for 75 episodes. A New Year's Special titled Hikaru no Go: Journey to the North Star Cup (ヒカルの碁 スペシャル 北斗杯への道, Hikaru no Go Hokuto-hai e no Michi) aired on January 3, 2004.
Viz Media acquired the North American English-language rights to the Hikaru no Go anime at the same time as the manga, in June 2003. The Ocean Group produced an English voice dub for the series. A "Sneak Preview" DVD of the first episode was included in the January 2006 issue of Shonen Jump (Volume 4, Issue 1) to subscribers. Viz began releasing the series on DVD on December 27, 2005. However, only eleven volumes were released (covering 45 episodes) before they were officially discontinued in April 2008. Hikaru no Go debuted on ImaginAsian TV in the United States on May 2, 2006. Each episode aired in subtitled Japanese every Tuesday, before the English dub of the same episode was shown on Saturday. It premiered on the online streaming service Toonami Jetstream on July 14, 2006, and ran until the service shut down in January 2009 with only three episodes remaining. The entire series was added to Netflix in April 2011 but is no longer available. It is presently available on Hulu.
A series of three Go video games based on the series were created by Konami for the Game Boy Advance. The third was also released on the GameCube. Hikaru and Sai also appear as support characters in the Weekly Shōnen Jump crossover game Jump Super Stars.
Go professional Yukari Umezawa served as the technical advisor for the anime and promoted the game on behalf of the Nihon Ki-in. She had a short one-minute special at the end of every episode instructing kids how to play Go. One of the reasons she helped increase Go's popularity was from being called the "best looking Go professional".
Hikaru no Go also caused an increase in popularity and awareness of Go throughout all other countries where it was read or seen. As a result, many Go clubs were started by people influenced by the manga.
In 2004, Hikaru no Go came in 18th on Animage readers poll of their Favorite Anime Series. In TV Asahi's 2008 Top 100 Anime poll, the series came in 83rd in the nationwide survey of multiple age groups and 93rd in the online poll. The following year, it came in 81st in the online poll.
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