The Protagonist of the series.Hikaru is an ordinary sixth grader in elementary school. After stumbling upon a haunted Go board, he is possessed by the spirit of Fujiwara-no-Sai, a completely obsessed Go player from the Heian era.At first Hikaru plays only for Sai, but soon after meeting and playing against some of the best Go players, he begins to develop an interest in Go. He also develops an initially unintended rivalry with Akira Touya, son of the world's top Go master. Hikaru joins his school's Go club and participates in tournaments. Later, in effort to catch up with Akira, he becomes an insei and finally a professional Go player (at 14 years old).
Book Dumb: The better he becomes at Go, the worse he does in school.
Cavalier Competitor: Subverted. He beats Akira while treating the whole thing as a joke. Actually Sai was playing, with a slightly more serious attitude.
Character Development: Matures throughout the series and grows from an ill-mannered brat to a person who has a clear goal in life, and values friendship. Is a rare case in which physical growth is shown alongside emotional.
Confusion Fu: Both he and Yashiro use this while playing against each other.
Disappeared Dad: Hikaru's father is seen very rarely. He's mentioned a few times as an afterthought and has zero impact on the story. Justified since many Japanese fathers do not have time to see their children due to work.
The Dreaded: Several characters break into nervous fits at the thought of playing against him. Even Akira is terrified of him, though that's because of Sai's play in their first matchups.
Epiphany Therapy: Snaps out of his depression after playing a game with Isumi and realizing that Sai is still with him when he plays.
Genius Ditz: Acts like an idiot frequently, not to mention his never-ending tongue slips, but eventually becomes a strong Go player.
A God Am I: In a metaphorical sense. During the first time he playes at a tournament, he envisions the Go board as the universe and the placing of stones as creation of the stars, and gets a bit carried away. Since he was a new player, he lost horribly.
Hidden Eyes: When undergoing emotional stress his bangs cover his eyes.
Instant Expert: Subverted Trope. The first time he plays Akira, unable to even hold the game pieces correctly, he trounces the experienced prodigy... because Hikaru was actually being directed by Sai. This drives Akira nuts and becomes his primary driving force.
Loose Lips: Is constantly spilling secrets and saying things he shouldn't.
My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Inverted in one case. Instead of announcing himself, his opponent (Su-Young Hong) asks for his name, because he promised to remember it if he lost. Cue the dramatic name saying.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Comes to visit the Go club and insists on playing despite Akari telling him that his presence might drive Mitani away. Of course Mitani decided to return to the Go club on that very same day, and Hikaru's presence drives him away. For a while, anyway.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Sometimes makes a move that looks like a mistake, but becomes useful later. This eventually becomes the hallmark of his playing style.
Tears of Joy: After discovering that Sai is still with him when he plays.
Terror Hero: His playing style relies on fierce, risky attacks that break his opponent's will to fight, rather than on consolidating territory and slowly marching toward a victory. However, he plays with the trope in that he's generally a pretty nice kid.
The Watson: Hikaru is constantly berated by his fellow insei and teachers for not knowing anything about the Go world and its inner workings. Of course, the real reason he dosen't know anything is because most of the audience needs someone to ask the questions.
What Would X Do?: Thinks about how would Sai play in his situation when he dosen't have a good move. He manages to win one of his most crucial games this way.
A spirit from the Heian era who was once the Go instructor to the Emperor. His ultimate goal is to play the divine move (also known as the Hand of God).After losing his livelihood and being unjustly blamed for cheating, Sai committed suicide by drowning. However, he still wanted to play Go, so he inhabited the body of a young boy who grew to be Honinbo Shusaku and played through him. After Shusaku died of a plague, Sai haunted his Go board until Hikaru discovered it.Sai becomes Hikaru's mentor and occasionally plays through him. He holds a rivalry towards Kouyou Touya (a.k.a. Touya Meijin) who is the best Go player of the present age. At last he manages to play against Toya Meijin on the internet. Shortly afterwards he disappears.
Agent Peacock: Is very effeminate by today's standards,note he would have been considered completely normal for a high-born man of the Heian period and is probably the best Go player that ever lived.
Chronic Hero Syndrome: Every time he sees wrongdoers, his natural instinct is to teach them the errors of their ways, usually through a game of Go. Fortunately, Hikaru agrees and cooperates most of the time.
Curb-Stomp Battle: He's so good at Go, that it is difficult for him to find an opponent he really has to struggle against. One example would be when he played against a shopkeeper who was cheating his customers. At a certain point of the game, when the shopkeeper was in bad shape, Sai suggested that they switch places, and then proceeded to win from a losing position.
Fish Out of Temporal Water: Is excited by things such as vending machines, calls television and computers "boxes" and aquarium fish "realistic looking fake fish", and is incredulous when Hikaru tells him that humans have been on the moon.
Ghost Amnesia: Averted. He seems to remember events that happened a thousand years ago quite well.
Mistaken Identity: A lot of confusion arises from the fact that he and Hikaru share a consciousness. Some people thought that his internet identity was Hikaru. The closest to guessing the truth were Waya, who thought Sai was Hikaru's teacher, and Akira, who figured out that Sai had been the one playing against him in their first game.
Nice Guy: He's completely Go obsessed but nevertheless a compassionate and caring person.
The Obi-Wan: Let's see. A mentor that travels with the hero? Check. Has a brilliant mind? Check. Is better skilled and more experienced than the hero? Check. His role is to introduce a new skill to the hero? Check. Has a very calm attitude? Che- Well... It depends.
Obi-Wan Moment: Dies peacefully after realizing that his work at helping achieve the divine move is done.
Hikaru's rival and son of Kouyou Touya, possibly the best Go player of the present age.Learning to play Go from a young age, Akira is already a very strong Go player when Hikaru meets him. He is amazed by Hikaru's (actually Sai's) skills and becomes obsessed with discovering the secret behind Hikaru's strength. After playing against Hikaru himself he is disappointed and tries to forget about him, but is unable to do so. Becomes a pro at age thirteen.
Almighty Janitor: While Akira goes up in rank throughout the series, his ability is far in excess of his ranking.
Blatant Lies: Claims that he doesn't care about Hikaru in a way that makes it very clear that he does.
The Chessmaster: Downplayed, as he usually dosen't try to be one. However, after Hikaru refuses to play against him, he goes to great lengths to insure Hikaru won't have a choice but to do so. Also trains Ochi and uses him to test Hikaru's strength.
Chick Magnet: Quite a few girls from the Kaio Middle School Go club ask him to play a tutoring game with them, while blushing and giggling. Also, the receptionist from the Go Salon picks him up at school and drives him to the Salon, where she promises to serve him coffee and cake.
Lonely Rich Kid: Comes from a well-to-do family and dosen't seem to have any friends his age. However, the lack of friends is probably more due to the fact that he's a child prodigy Go player. Also, unlike many examples of this trope, he does not suffer from any sort of Parental Abandonment.
Master of the Mixed Message: While not necessarily in a romantic sense, Akira's behavior in regards to Hikaru is very much this. First he is obsessed about him and chases him relentlessly, until he is disappointed and promises never to appear before Hikaru again. But won't stop thinking about him, and checking on him... and surprising him from behind... and watching his games... and asking questions about him. But will refuse to talk to him, and so on.
The Perfectionist: Is so shaken by losing to Sai that he chases after Hikaru for quite a long while in order to defeat him.
Rage Quit: When playing against Hikaru (as opposed to Sai) for the first time, he tries to do this, but his teacher stops him and forces him to finish the game. Inverted, Akira was angry not because he was losing, but because he was winning too easily.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Despite being male he fits the trope pretty well: calm, mature, joining the family business, coming from a traditional Japanese family etc. Except when it comes to Hikaru, where he becomes unusually aggressive.
Hikaru's childhood friend.She begins to learn Go as well when Hikaru becomes interested and later joins the Haze Middle School Go club, serving as vice captain of the girls' team, despite her being a weak player. She also seems to have feelings for Hikaru, as noted by her two friends in the carnival and various other characters. Hikaru dosen't show much interest in her.Although their connection weakens, she and Hikaru remain friends throughout the course of the series.
President and founder of the Haze Middle School Go club.When he founds the Haze Middle School Go club he is the only member, but through the efforts of Hikaru and Akari the club grows. Tsutsui graduates from Haze Middle School before his dream of defeating the Kaio Middle School Go club can be realized.
Hypocritical Heartwarming: He strongly dislikes Mitani at first, and during a tournament publicly announcing his habit of cheating. A moment later, when a member of the Kaio Go club predicts that Mitani will try to "con a win", Tsutsui immediately jumps to his defense:
Tsutsui: "What do you mean con a win? Mitani is... Mitani is... He's only a freshman, but he's ten times better than I am! He is our first board! Don't underestimate him."
President of Haze Middle School's Shogi club.Kaga hates Go and prefers Shogi because his father forbade Shogi and forced him to play Go from an extremely early age, and because he always lost to Akira Toya.He still plays Go from time to time to keep his skills limber. He participates in a tournament together with Hikaru and Tsutsui.
The Dreaded: "It's Kaga!" "Kaga! Who can silence a crying baby!" note A Japanese idiom, which means someone that is so horrifying that he would cause even a baby to stop crying in fear of upsetting him.Played for Laughs.
The third member of the Haze Middle School Go Club.Mitani is a rather good Go player who fell into the habit of cheating. After being taught a painful lesson, he is recruited by Hikaru for the Go club and remains a member throughout the series.
Aesop Amnesia: Even after he loses 10,000 yen because of cheating, he still cheats while playing against Tsutsui and continues to talk about cheating for a while.
Achilles in His Tent: Gets angry when Hikaru decides to leave the Go club in favor of chasing Akira, and quits the Go club, until his friends pester him back.
Break the Haughty: Invoked by Shu-san, the owner of the Go salon who hires a hustler, Dake-san, to feed Mitani some Humble Pie. However, even he admits that Dake-san overdid it.
The Cynic: Seems to believe that not noticing the other person cheating shows your hopeless naivety and proves that you didn't deserve to win in the first place. He also radiates apathy about life in general, although he gets better as time goes by because of The Power of Friendship.
Deadpan Snarker: After Hikaru had practically dragged him to the Go club and sits him down in front of a Go board to play against Tsutsui, he points his thumb at Hikaru and asks, completely straight faced: "Is this guy always this forceful?"
Another insei friendly with Hikaru, Isumi is the eldest in Hikaru's peer group, turning 18 during the series. Despite being ranked first among the insei, he does not pass the pro exams. Later, he goes to China and studies there, and passes the pro exams a year later than Hikaru.
Angst: Quite a lot during and after the pro exams.
Beware the Nice Ones: Generally a very calm person, but after suffering from Heroic BSOD and losing a few crucial games, he was not in the mood to hear Ochi's taunting.
Big "Shut Up!": Tells Ochi, who was busy gloating, to shut up before they begin their game. Downplayed since he said it quietly, to match his tranquil fury.
A Friend in Need: He and Waya help Hikaru get over his psychological fears before the pro exams despite the fact that they are making their opponent stronger. Also forces Hikaru to play with him when the latter was suffering from Heroic BSOD.
Heroic BSOD: After cheating by mistake in his game against Hikaru.
Isumi:(after losing a game) "It wasn't bad? I am dissatisfied with that game I just played. I'm not depressed at all. I'm just angry with myself for playing too aggressively because I thought I couldn't lose... For not being able to play my best..."
Only Sane Man: Clearly considers himself this while going to visit Go salons with Hikaru and Waya. The other two are busy proposing dangerous challenges, fighting over what the reward will be, and eating vigorously.
Shrinking Violet: While in China, alone among strangers and suffering from self confidence issues, he quickly turns into this for some time. It's also very apparent when he's being photographed before his beginner dan match with Kuwabara.
Another insei in the same group as Hikaru, Ochi is one of the youngest and the most talented, and very outspoken about his ability. Akira tutors him to find out about Hikaru's current strength. He becomes a pro the same year that Hikaru does.
Ambiguous Disorder: In addition to having absolutely No Social Skills, has a weird habit of locking himself in the bathroom and tapping on the door with his finger every time he loses.
Turns out he's actually mentally replaying his game and tapping down each move that was played/that he should have played.
Ambition Is Evil: While he is certainly not the only ambitious character and not really evil, he is the most ambition-obsessed. He rarely thinks of anything else, and lets it take over his whole life.
Trash Talk: Gloats about his assured victory against Isumi (who was suffering from Heroic BSOD). This was a mistake.
Ochi: "You even lost to Fuku yesterday, Isumi-san? I'm disappointed. I thought that Isumi-san would be the biggest hurdle in towards my passing undefeated. You're too worried about Shindou. I kind of regret ever seeing you as a rival. Though thanks to that, it shouldn't be hard to pass undefea-"
Isumi: "Ochi. (death glare) Shut up."
Unwitting Pawn: Subverted. He understands very quickly that Akira only wants to use him, but eventually decides to go along with it.
Feet of Clay: Played With, since he isn't completely incompetent. Hikaru thinks at first that he's an incredibly talented Go player, only to discover when he becomes an insei, that Kishimoto used to be an insei and was considered a fairly bad one.
"Quite a gap between you and Touya. No, I'm not talking about your strength. I'm talking about your attitude towards reaching your goal. [...] Having Touya as your goal while clowning around. Not only do you sicken me, you disappoint me as well. What exactly was it that Touya was chasing after?"
Akira Touya's father and the best Go player in Japan. 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.
Badass: The best Go player that appears in the series, besides Sai.
Badass Boast: "This is my Go. The Go of the Meijin, Kouyou Touya!"
Retired Badass: A subversion. He promises to retire if he loses to Sai, and does so, but then he moves to China and signs up with the Beijing team, where he can play against master-class players without the responsibilities that come with being an Institute professional.
Broken Ace: Is one of the best Go players, good looking and apparently has money, but is also a very proud, deeply socially awkward and highly selfish geeky guy in his thirties whose personal life extends to his old Sensei and his tropical fish.
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.
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 Touya Meijin a rival, since the two of them became pros at the same time.
A former insei who passed a year before Hikaru. Played against Isumi during the Young Lions Tournament (the Wakajishi Sen).
Butt Monkey: He loses to Kuwabara in his first dan match, falling for a simple psychological tactic, and is later mocked for it. During the Young Lions Tournament he plays against Isumi and loses miserably. When he tries to get back at him verbally, he gets punched by Waya.
Collective Groan: Elicits one from all the insei the moment he appears on the scene. Even Ochi can't stand him.
Green-Eyed Monster: Tries to degrade Isumi because he's jealous of him being a better player.