The game changes

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.

6 Responses to The game changes

  1. I’ve been meaning to read Hikaru, but money and time always conspired against that project. Now you’ve convinced me that I really need to pick up volume one and get started. Lovely review!

  2. davidpwelsh says:

    I’m almost tempted to say you could just start with volume 12 and be fine from there, but there’s lots of really satisfying stuff in the early going — great characters and character development, and lots of small moments that are well worth reading. So I’ll say you could start with 12 and go from there, but if you can find the first 11 at your local library or for cheap online, dig in. How’s that for waffling?

  3. thirstygirl says:

    This is one of the series that I read all of in one gigantic spree, thanks to scans, and am now buying the books as they are released. I would have found it extremely painful to be restricted to the release schedule for my next fix but I am really enjoying re-reading them as I buy them.

    And I think it’s good to start from the early volumes because it makes the changes in Hikaru and in the relationships between Hikaru/Sai/Akira more apparent.

  4. Thanks for the tips, guys–I could use a palate cleanser right now!

  5. […] David Welsh has high praise for vol. 12 of Hikaru no Go at Precocious Curmudgeon. At PopCultureShock’s Manga Recon blog, Erin F. reviews Family […]

  6. […] Seriously, just housekeeping to support my leaky-sieve memory and remind myself that I nominated Hikaru no Go volume 12 (Viz) as a Great Graphic Novel for Teens. Nothing here to […]

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