Hikaru no Go
|Hikaru no Go|
The cover of Hikaru no Go volume 1 as released by Viz Media
|Genre||Psychological, Sports, Supernatural|
|Written by||Yumi Hotta|
|Illustrated by||Takeshi Obata|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Original run||December 1998 – July 2003|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Susumu Nishizawa (eps. 1–15)
Jun Kamiya (eps. 16–58)
Tetsuya Endo (eps. 58–75)
|Music by||Kei Wakakusa|
|Original run||October 10, 2001 – March 26, 2003|
|Anime television series|
|Hikaru no Go: New Year Special|
|Directed by||Tetsuya Endo|
|Music by||Kei Wakakusa|
|Original run||January 3, 2004|
|Part of a series of articles on|
|History and culture|
|Players and organizations|
|Computers and mathematics|
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 1998 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. While Hikaru is at this point not yet up to the level of Akira, he 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.
The plot of Hikaru no Go revolves around the Japanese Go world. Several of the manga's prominent characters hold Go titles. The title holder is then called by a combination of their name and the title they hold. In the case of a multiple title holder the most prestigious title they hold is used. The 7 major titles mentioned are Kisei, Meijin, Honinbō, Jūdan, Tengen, Ōza, and Gosei.
- Hikaru Shindo (進藤 ヒカル Shindō Hikaru?)
Hikaru is a sixth grader in elementary school. An important factor in the development of Hikaru's passion for Go is an encounter early on in which Hikaru becomes the rival of Go prodigy Akira Toya. At first, he thinks that Go is just for old folks and he is annoyed at Sai's demand to play, but little by little his passion for Go increases as he plays more and more. From being a member of a school Go club to becoming an Insei and finally a professional Go player (at 14 years old) a year after Akira, Hikaru matures throughout the course of the series. Throughout the series, Hikaru gets older in age as the series follow him from 6th grade to high school. Hikaru is often portrayed wearing clothing having the numeral "5". This is a pun on the Japanese word for five: 五, which is pronounced go. Part of his strength is his ability to read far into the game very fast, and to make seemingly stupid moves, which, in fact, lure the opponent to playing what looks like the obviously correct move, which Hikaru then uses against them. Voiced by: Tomoko Kawakami (Japanese); Samuel Vincent (English)
- Fujiwara-no-Sai (藤原佐為?)
A spirit from the Heian era of Japan and mentor of Hikaru Shindo. Once the Go instructor to the Emperor, Sai continually plays Go, his goal being to one day play the divine move. Sai's ghost had previously possessed the real-life figure Honinbo Shusaku who became a renowned Go player. Sai holds a rivalry towards Koyo Toya and through Hikaru persuades Koyo to have a game with him; with his wish realized when they play a game through the Internet. After the legendary match that ends with Sai's triumph by the narrowest margin (a ½ point), Hikaru discovers another move which would have turned the game around. Witnessing Hikaru's maturity, Sai comes to feel that his one-thousand-year time in the world is going to end without his fulfilling his wish of obtaining the divine move; but he reasons that perhaps he was fated to awaken and teach Hikaru, who might obtain it in the future. A few days after the game with Koyo, Sai suddenly disappears as he feared he would. Hikaru was dozing during their last game, so he could neither terminate his last match with Hikaru nor say goodbye to him. Sai is gone, leaving Hikaru depressed and wanting to quit the game. When Hikaru plays Isumi, Hikaru realizes that he will continue to play Go, for Sai lives on in Hikaru's Go. Extremely effeminate by today's standards, Sai is often drawn with traditionally feminine features and mannerisms. Yumi Hotta has joked about fans mistakenly calling him a "she" in the "intermission" pages of the manga. Sai's extremely emotional behavior is also proper for a Heian male; he sometimes cries copiously in chibi style, soaking his long sleeves with tears, which in his own time would be respected as a sign of intelligence and sensitivity. His name Fujiwara suggests that he is related to a noble family of extremely high prestige in the Heian period, the Fujiwara clan. Sai has a high sense of honor, abhorring cheating and bullying. Voiced by: Susumu Chiba (Japanese); Brad Swaile (English)
- Akira Toya (塔矢 アキラ Tōya Akira?)
Hikaru's biggest rival and Kaio Middle School student. The son of Koyo Toya, Akira is already playing Go at a professional level when Hikaru first begins playing. Akira is amazed by Hikaru's seemingly impossible ability and becomes obsessed with discovering the secret behind Hikaru's strength. Meanwhile, Hikaru is impressed with how serious and focused Akira is on the game despite only being a 6th grader like him. As the series goes along, the plot brings these two characters together to play each other under different circumstances, each time adding to the mystery. Voiced by: Sanae Kobayashi (Japanese); Scott Perrie (English)
- Koyo Toya (塔矢 行洋 Tōya Kōyō?)
Akira Toya's father and professional Go player, known as Toya Meijin (塔矢 名人 Tōya Meijin?); Meijin being one of the titles he earned. He rivals Sai and like Sai he also pursues the divine move. Following his defeat by Sai he retires from the Japanese Go circuit and plays in China. He has an interest in Hikaru and requested to play him in the Beginner Dan series after Hikaru becomes a pro. Voiced by: Eizo Tsuda (Japanese); Paul Dobson (English)
Haze Middle School Go club
- Akari Fujisaki (藤崎 あかり Fujisaki Akari?)
Hikaru's childhood friend. She learns a little bit about Go, when Hikaru becomes interested, and she later joins the Haze Middle School Go club, serving as vice captain of the girls' team, despite her being a weak player. She loves Hikaru, as noted by her two friends and various other characters. Hikaru shows interest in her only little by little, though. The two remain friends throughout the course of the series. Voiced by: Yumi Kakazu (Japanese); Chantal Strand (English)
- Kimihiro Tsutsui (筒井 公宏 Tsutsui Kimihiro?)
Captain and founder of the Haze Middle School Go Club. Initially he relies on a strategy book, though he has excellent Yose (end game) skills. Kaga persuades him to abandon the book in favor of trusting his strength. When he founded the Haze Middle School Go club he is the only member, but through the efforts of Hikaru and Akari the club grows. Kimihiro graduates from Haze Middle School before his dream of defeating the Kaio Middle School Go club can be realized. Voiced by: Makoto Tsumura (Japanese); Keith Miller (English)
- Tetsuo Kaga (加賀 鉄男 Kaga Tetsuo?)
President of Haze Middle School's Shogi club. Kaga hates Go and prefers Shogi because his father forbade it and forced him to play Go from an extremely early age, and he could never please the old man no matter how well he did, because he always lost to Akira Toya. In a flashback to Kaga's childhood, he is not only defeated by Akira, he feels disrespected by Akira's detached attitude towards his opponents. He still plays Go from time to time to keep his skills limber. During the course of the series, he (along with Kimihiro Tsutsui) graduates from Haze Middle School. Voiced by: Kentarō Itō (Japanese); Andrew Toth (English)
- Yuki Mitani (三谷 祐輝 Mitani Yūki?)
A player at the Go Club at Haze Middle School who overcomes his cheating habit. He is angry at Hikaru for choosing to be an Insei rather than stay at the school Go club when they have a tournament around the corner. Yuki and Hikaru are no longer seen as friends. Yuki remains in the Go club, but only after much convincing. Voiced by: Yuu Asakawa (Japanese); Cathy Weseluck (English)
- Yoshitaka Waya (和谷 義高 Waya Yoshitaka?)
Hikaru's "big brother" Insei. Like Kaga, he has a dislike for Akira Toya because he can never defeat him and because of what he perceives as Akira's disdain for his opponents. He has once faced Sai in internet Go using the nickname 'zelda.' He becomes a pro (at age 15) in the same year as Hikaru. He is also known to be very reckless and short-tempered, even punching former Insei Mashiba in the face because the latter rattled his friend Isumi. Voiced by: Reiko Takagi (Japanese); Matthew Erickson (English)
- Shinichiro Isumi (伊角 慎一郎 Isumi Shin'ichirō?)
Another Insei friendly with Hikaru, Isumi is the eldest in Hikaru's peer group, turning 18 during the series. He appears to be doing very well in the first pro exam shown, going undefeated until his match with Hikaru. During that match, rumors about Hikaru's incredible strength add to the pressure of time constraints, and he misplaces a stone; his attempt to move the stone after letting go of it prompts his honorable resignation before Hikaru can accuse him of cheating. The match weighs on his mind and he loses his next two games and the chance to become a pro. He later goes to study Go in China in one of the few character arcs in the series that does not center on Hikaru. There, he learns to control his emotions and passes the next year's pro exam without a single loss. Isumi also unknowingly helps Hikaru get over his grief for Sai when their practice game makes Hikaru realize that by playing, he can find Sai within his moves, the Go that Sai passed on to Hikaru. Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura (Japanese); Kristian Ayre (English)
- Kosuke Ochi (越智 康介 Ochi Kōsuke?)
Yet another Insei in the same group as Hikaru, Ochi is one of the youngest (12 years old when introduced), yet very outspoken about his ability. His bragging about his strength hides his insecurity; after each loss he is known to disappear into the restroom for long periods of time. Akira tutors him to find out about Hikaru's current strength. Ochi is unnerved by Hikaru because Akira's obsession about him seems to suggest there is more to Hikaru than what Ochi knows. Ochi is also angry that Akira acknowledges Hikaru as a rival, but not Ochi himself. He demands that Akira view him as a rival if he can defeat Hikaru in the pro exam. Ochi loses to Hikaru, but does pass the pro exam. He comes from a wealthy family, as evidenced by the number of pros that come to his household to tutor him privately in Go. Voiced by: Youko Matsuoka (Japanese); Brad Swaile (English)
- Yuta Fukui (福井 雄太 Fukui Yūta?)
Nicknamed "Fuku" (フク?), an Insei and classmate of Waya who is known for his extremely fast-paced style of play. Although Waya is the stronger player, he cannot seem to defeat Fuku. Hikaru loses one game to him during the pro exam.
- Asumi Nase (奈瀬 明日美 Nase Asumi?)
The only female Insei that has a prominent role in the series. She is able to defeat Honda in the pro exams.
Kaio Middle School Go club
- Kaoru Kishimoto (岸本 薫 Kishimoto Kaoru?)
Kaio Middle School Go club president and former Insei who did not become a professional. He played Akira in a game, and had to resign early and admitted he was outclassed and right not to pursue professional play. Later he plays a match against Hikaru to gauge his strength, and defeats him easily. His dismissive attitude to Hikaru's plan to rise to Akira's level while playing in the school club spurs Hikaru on to register as an Insei. His liking for black coffee allows Hikaru to realize that he is the failed Insei that the others are discussing shortly after Hikaru becomes an Insei. Voiced by: Takahiro Sakurai (Japanese); Brent Miller (English)
- Mr. Yun
Yun is Akira's Middle School teacher who is in charge of the school Go club. He is originally from Korea. He worked as a go instructor for children in Korea, and was initially disappointed in young Go players in Japan, until he joined the Kaio faculty.
- Yuri Hidaka (日高 由梨 Hidaka Yuri?)
A 3rd year Kaio Middle School student who stands up for Akira when he gets bullied by three other members of the Go club who resent his presence in the club. She hates bullying of all kinds, but this does not stop her from bullying others.
Three students who dislike Akira Toya's presence in the Kaio Middle School Go club, and try to humiliate him into quitting the club by making him play "blind Go" (i.e. calling out the moves without looking at the Go board, like blindfold chess). Yuri Hidaka catches them in the act and puts a stop to the bullying.
- Shu (修 Shū?)
The owner of a Go salon where Hikaru finds Yuki Mitani. Shu recognises that Mitani is cheating, so he hires Dake-san to teach him a lesson. Voiced by: Aruno Tahara (Japanese); Michael Dobson (English)
- Dake (だけ Dake?)
A Go hustler hired by Shu to teach Yuki Mitani not to cheat. He poses as a regular at the Go salon and hides his strength. He bets money on the game and wins 10,000 yen (about $110 US) from Yuki. Hikaru and Sai later win the money back, and Hikaru uses this to persuade him to join the school Go club. Dake sings romantic songs while playing Go as part of his act to appear like a harmless buffoon, and plays with his right hand (although he is left-handed) to appear clumsy.
- Heihachi Shindo (進藤 平八 Shindō Heihachi?)
Hikaru's grandfather, a regional Go champion, who owns the board where Hikaru first discovered Sai. He claims his brother bought the board in an antique shop, intrigued by the rumor that a "ghost in a tall hat" would appear from it sometimes. He keeps the board as a memento after his brother's death and refuses to give it to Hikaru, but after seeing how much Hikaru has improved in Go in one year's time, he buys him a nice Go board to practice on his own.
- Kuwabara Hon'inbo (桑原本因坊 Kuwabara Hon'inbō?)
An elderly professional and current holder of the Honinbo title. Kuwabara is friends with Toya Meijin, but rivals Ogata, whose challenge he defeats. In his title defence next year, he defeats the young fast-improving Kurata. He is able to vaguely sense Sai's presence, and develops an interest in Hikaru. Kuwabara bets on Hikaru in his Beginner Dan series game. Kuwabara was Shusaku's real family name. Voiced by: Rokurō Naya (Japanese); French Tickner (English)
- Harumi Ichikawa (市河 晴美 Ichikawa Harumi?)
Ms. Ichikawa is the cashier of the Go salon owned by the Toyas. She feels saddened when Akira frequents the club less often because of his pro schedule, and refuses to start calling him "sensei" when he goes pro, preferring to keep calling him by the nickname "Akira-kun". She frequently drives him to different places and he sometimes tutors her in Go.
- Shigeo Morishita (森下 茂男 Morishita Shigeo?)
Also known as Morishita Sensei or Mr. Morishita, is a 9-dan pro who is Waya's go teacher and leader of the study group which Hikaru also frequents on Waya's invitation. He considers Koyo Toya a rival, since the two of them became pros at the same time. Morishita also mentors Michio Shirakawa (7-dan), the community Go leader.
- Mitani's sister (三谷の姉 Mitani no Ane?)
A girl who works at an internet cafe and lets Hikaru play Go on the computers for free during her shifts. She also helps Hikaru with his English.
- Hong Su-Young (Korean: 홍수영, Hong Su-yeong)
A Korean Go professional, 2 years younger than Hikaru (12 years old). Hikaru, Waya, and Isumi travel to Go salons to sharpen their skills while they are Insei. In one of them they meet Suyong, whose uncle runs a Go salon, while Su-Yong is on vacation from Korea. At the time, Su-Yong is a Yeon'gusaeng (the Korean equivalent of an Insei), but is disillusioned with playing Go. Heated words between him and Hikaru lead to the two playing an intense, exciting match at the Go salon. Hikaru defeats Su-Yong and this spurs Su-Yong to work harder to become a pro. Su-Young becomes famous after beating a 9-dan in Korea. He appears again as the third representative for Korea in the Hokuto Cup.
- Seiji Ogata (緒方 精次 Ogata Seiji,?, 10-dan)
A Go professional who recognizes Hikaru's talent when he comments on a Go move during a children's tournament that even professional Go players would take some time to see (although this is Sai's insight - Hikaru had not yet attained much skill by this time). He is also a student of Koyo Toya and soon takes the Judan and Gosei titles when Koyo Toya retires. Voiced by: Keiji Fujiwara (Japanese); Michael Adamthwaite (English)
Written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, Hikaru no Go was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from December 1998 to July 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 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 produce 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.
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.
- Go Player, a Chinese animated series about young Go players
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