While rummaging through his grandfather's possessions, Hikaru Shindo stumbles upon an old bloodstained Go board. Much to his surprise, he also finds that the board is inhabited by the spirit of Fujowara no Sai, a Go instructor to the Emperor during the Heian period... and he's going to reside in Hikaru's body! Urged on by Sai, Hikaru begins to play - albeit with no intention of playing seriously; though as Sai teaches his host about Go, he awakens both Hikaru's interest in the game as well as an innate hidden talent for it. Before long he finds himself paving his own path in the world of Go. Although Hikaru is naturally skilled, does he have what it takes to defeat his rival, Akira, without Sai's help? And will he ever be able to achieve the ultimate move known as the ‘Hand of God'?
Shirihama Kenichi is a weak scaredy-cat, and his status as the karate club's punching bag has earned him the name of ‘Weak Legs'. One day Kenichi meets Miu and, impressed by her skill after she effortlessly throws him to the ground, he follows her to the Ryouzanpaku dojo. There he finds five great masters of martial arts, and driven by his desire to become stronger, he begs them to accept him as their student - though it won't be easy. Kenichi endures harsh training (and injury) from Akisame - the philosophizing Jujitsu master; Apachai - the Muay Thai ‘God of Death'; Kensei - the ecchi Chinese Kempo Master; and Shigure - the weapons prodigy. Finally after proving his determination, he is accepted by Shio - the 100-dan Karate Master, who had initially wanted nothing to do with him. Now Kenichi walks the long and arduous path to becoming a master himself, all whilst trying to protect those he cares about from anyone who would dare to harm them.
A board game vs. martial arts doesn't seem very similar at all. However, if you think of each game Hikaru plays as a fight, they relate quite well. Two protagonists slowly growing stronger by taking on new challenges. Kenichi and Hikaru also both have incredible masters. I know nothing about Go, even after watching Hikaru no Go, but I still enjoyed it a lot.