Update: And here’s Bryan Lee O’Malley for the win.
I always enjoy new volumes of Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata’s Hikaru no Go (Viz), but I think the twelfth is the best of the series so far. After budding go player Hikaru achieves a significant milestone, he and his mentor, Sai, are forced to reevaluate their relationship.
Sai is the ghost of a go expert who died before he could achieve his full potential. When Hikaru found his grandfather’s antique go board, Sai latched onto him as an earthly vessel, a way to play. Over the course of the series, Hikaru has developed a passion for the game that’s entirely independent of Sai’s influence. Hikaru has his own goals as a player, and they’re at odds with Sai’s ambitions.
It’s a sad and rather lovely portrayal of the mentor-student relationship that seems perfectly natural but is rather fresh for this kind of comic. It’s inevitable that the protégé should outgrow his or her teacher, but that moment is usually greeted with tearful pride and a feeling of inevitability. The development between Hikaru and Sai is much more complicated and, in my opinion, more rewarding.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the dynamic between Hikaru and Sai develops from this difficult point. It gives weight to Hikaru’s increasingly challenging matches and adds depth of feeling to the narrative as a whole.