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Hikaru no Go Vol. 1
Distributor Viz Media
Author/Artist Yumi Hotta / Takeshi Obata
If there is one thing to love about Shonen Jump manga, it’s their ability to make even the most mundane of games exciting, with Yu-Gi-Oh being a prime example. Card battling made more exciting because the monsters come to life. How the hell anyone remembers those strategies to play those games is a gift (or a curse) in itself. Now we have a manga based upon the ancient board game of Go. Trust us, it does get better.
Hikaru Shindo discovers an antique Go board in his grandfather’s attic as he looks for stuff to sell to make some money. When Hikaru touches the board, he becomes possessed with the spirit of the Go board Fujiwara-no-Sai (or Sai for short). Sai won’t give up the ghost until “The Divine Move” is played. Problem is Hikaru has no interest in Go... So Hikaru is uncontrollably sick until he agrees to play and learn Go, whether he likes it or not.
All signs indicate that this manga should not be interesting. That it should not be good enough to read beyond the first volume. Then why is it so damn addictive? It makes no sense...
It’s the characters that do it. The characters in Hikaru no Go are interesting and fun to follow. Hikaru is the usual big-headed lead character, while Sai is the timid spirit who gets excited whenever playing Go. The chemistry between these two characters just flows from the pages, making the read that much more enjoyable. As a character driven drama, this is hard to beat.
It’s by no means a serious read and should be taken for what it is. The cheese factor is off the scale at certain points, especially when “rivals” and other important characters start showing up. You can’t help but chuckle at the absurdness of some of the statements coming from certain characters.
Hikaru no Go is something a little different to usual array of manga on offer. There are no sci-fi end-of-the-world scenarios, no magical girls here to fight for justice and no trips to a society of souls. Its just pure entertainment using a game that would bore many who wouldn’t have heard of in the west. Its an entertaining volume and we can only hope the quest for “The Divine Move” brings even more colourful characters to the fore in future.
An unexpected surprise. Just don’t take it too seriously.