Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hikaru No Go Review

Hikaru no Go: Descent of the Go Master, Vol. 1 (Hikaru no Go, #1)Hikaru no Go: First Battle, Vol. 2 (Hikaru no Go, #2)Hikaru no Go: Preliminary Scrimmage, Vol. 3 (Hikaru no Go, #3)Hikaru no Go: Divine Illusions, Vol. 4 (Hikaru no Go, #4)Hikaru no Go: Start, Vol. 5 (Hikaru no Go, #5)

Book talk:  Hikaru was just a normal kid, until he discovered a haunted go board.  Now he is possessed by the spirit of an ancient go master named Sai.  Hikaru tries to go on with his life like normal, but Sai won't let him.  So Hikaru seeks out go matches to calm the angry spirit.  At first, he had to be forced to play, but now he's starting to enjoy it.  Hikaru vows that some day he'll be strong enough to play against his rival by himself, but in the mean time he has to keep living his life as if he is a normal kid.  If anyone ever found out about Sai he'd be called a liar or freak or worse.

Rocks my socks:  I'm not a big chess player.  I don't like games that are all strategy or all luck.  I prefer games that balance the two evenly.  So, I didn't think I'd be that drawn into this story.  I'm happy to report that I was completely wrong.  The characters are interesting and the game is explained slowly instead of getting bogged down with exposition.  By the time the little lessons in how the game is played arrived I was eager to better understand what I had been reading about.  The games themselves are illustrated like epic battle scenes and the relationships between the characters are compelling.  I enjoyed reading about Hikaru as he grew as both a go player and a person.  He learns lessons in empathy and struggles with the morals of allowing Sai to play and learns how to take pride in the progress he makes even if it's no where near the level he can be at if he just allows Sai to take over.  What starts off as an annoying hanger-on girl character begins to evolve as she starts her own girl's go club and learns along with Hikaru.  Even the rival character is portrayed sympathetically as the reader discovers the kind of pressure he's under.  I gobbled up the five volumes I had quickly and am eager to read more.

Rocks in my socks: nothing

Every book its reader:  The battle scenes are all over a go board and the romance is minimal, so it's fine for anyone old enough to have an interest in the comic.  I'd say that's probably third grade and up, but if a younger kid wanted to try it I wouldn't stop her.  Fans of Pokemon, chess, and of course go will enjoy this tale of a kid training for tournament battles.


Viz media has a page with information on the comic and the animated series

Sensei's library has a page with lots of extras and information about the series

You can watch the entire animated series online for free on Hulu

Here's a brief introduction to how to play the game for those that are curious:

Source: school library

Hikaru No Go vol. 1- 5 Story by Yumi Hotta Art by Takeshi Obata Supervised by Ukari Umezawa [5 Dan]: buy it or check it out today!

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