Hikari is a young school girl who dreams of becoming a great champion in the sport of rhythmic gymnastics like her idol, Diliana Gueorguiva. Despite all her setbacks while performing, she works hard and with the help and support of Takaaki Oiishi (the best male gymnast of her school) soon becomes a member of the rhythmic gymnastics team in her school. She develops feelings for Oiishi, but she is not the only one—Hazuki Shiina, the best gymnast in the entire school, also has feelings for Oiishi. Soon a friendship between Hikari and Shiina develops, but also a rivalry as well in the sport and for the love of Oiishi. Hikari is also torn between her feelings for Oiishi and her conflicting feelings for Mao Natsukawa, an old childhood friend, who is also the lead singer of the band called Mr. D. He composes the music she uses while performing, and has been developing feelings for her since childhood.
I've found Hikari to be quite lovely, both the character and the series. It's incredibly simple and straightforward, yet it's one of those uniquely lifelike series that just warm your heart. Most of the time you'll be staring at cheerful Hikari and her big blue eyes.
The story does not solely focus on Hikari's rise in the world of rhythmic gymnastics or sports. It also touches the thematics of growing up, overcoming the many obstacles on the path to the final goal, of love, rivalry and many other themes that pest any young individual.
The production is sweet, which is typical of many 80's anime of shojo
genre, when the latter was most popular. The music stands out in particular, with piano inserts which range from very lively, positive themes, to starkingly touching melodies. The range of songs in OST is quite narrow, but compositions like Maihime and Yume Miru Koroni are simply beautiful.
There aren't many series out there quite so sweet and charming as Hikari no Densetsu. Therefore it is sad it's been cut from initially planned 26 episodes to just 19, since, despite high general popularity in Japan, the TV ratings were poor. It never reached US markets, because there wasn't any interest in the thematics the series portrays.
I'm very glad that atleast people here in Europe took a high liking to Hikari - especially in France and Italy, where the manga was also translated. The French have released it at least 3 times - the last time in a dual audio DVD release. But their dub can't compare to the Italian one which is really heart felt and on par with original Japanese voice acting.
Even though the anime was cut abruptly , the original manga continues well beyond and has a slightly different development in the love and coupling department. Hikari continues to Seoul 1988 Olympic games. Actually, if it wasn't for the latter, Hikari may have never reached the foreign markets. Tatsunoko Productions have decided to release it outside Japan, since there was great interest in rhytmic gymnastics at the time.
You would think with all of the plot threads this story would be bogged down - but Hikari no Densetsu is an anime that can take this wild ride and actually make it work. The characters are super compelling and it's easy to fall in love with each and every one, so you want to know where all of their adventures are taking them.
Can we also just acknowledge the fact that this show portrays a HEALTHY competitive relationship between two women? We need more of this in storytelling.
The animation is also much better than one would expect from an 80's show, with super
fluid motions during Hikari and Hazuki's routines. I felt like it had a sudden production jump towards then end, though. The sound is decent too, since music is a big subplot it has to be.