Go to Korea
With Volume 21, we are nearing the end of the long-running and popular “Hikaru no Go” series. The series ended in Japan in 2003, and Viz will publish the last English language edition, Vol. 23, next year.
It is incredible that Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata have produced such an interesting series focused on a game so few have played. Although the series sparked renewed interest in Go in Japan and abroad, I have only personally played it enough to know the game is not for me. But I love the manga. Mostly, I think, because the focus is on the characters more than the mechanics of the game.
Volume 21 takes off right after the end of Vol. 20, with decisions in the qualifying matches for the Hokuto Cup. Akira Toya has already secured his place, so it is up to Shindo, Yashihiro, Ochi and Waya to battle it out for the remaining two places. The fact that Shindo secures a spot is pretty much a given (he is the star of the series after all) but the remaining spot was a surprise and there is an interesting turn of events amongst the players. Meanwhile, things are heating up in Japan as Kosemura, a reporter from the Go Association’s Weekly Magazine, has a disastrous interview with Korean player Ko Young Ha where bad translation leads Kosemura to think Young Ha is insulting Japanese Go and the venerable Honinbo Shusaku. This gets Shindo’s blood boiling as he is determined to make Young Ha eat his words.
With only two more volumes to go “Hikaru no Go” is a ticking clock. Events are building towards the inevitable showdown, but the story isn’t told yet. Hotta and Obata still have some tricks up their sleeve and some good story arcs to get down before the conclusion.
If you have stayed with the series this long, there is no way you are not going all the way to the final match. Volume 21 delivers, but this is just the preliminary bout, the positioning of the pieces for the contest to come.