Hikaru no Go Vol. #14 (Mania.com)

By:Sakura Eries
Review Date: Monday, April 06, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sai and Toya Meijin go all out -- in virtual reality!

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Yumi Yotta and Takeshi Obata
Translation: Naoko Amemiya
Adaptation: Naoko Amemiya

What They Say
Sai VS. Toya Koyo

When Hikaru convinces go master Toya Meijin to play Sai online, the meijin raises the stakes: if he wins, "Sai" must reveal his true identity, if he loses, he will quit the game forever! Then, Hikaru challenges himself by playing Kurata 6 dan. How do you win a game in which both players use the same color stones?! Hikaru is so busy honing his skills, he doesn't notice Sai's growing concerns...

The Review!
Toya Meijin agrees to play Sai online but raises the stakes: if he wins, Sai must reveal his identity; if he loses, he will retire! Sai accepts the terms, and the two masters battle it out on the virtual go board. The intense game quickly draws the attention of go enthusiasts worldwide, including Akira and Ogata. Sai’s sudden reappearance has Akira once again puzzling over the connection between Sai and Hikaru while Ogata sets his mind on seeking out the mystery player to play him himself. With the spotlight on Sai, will Hikaru manage to keep his secret under wraps?

Watching a game of go would hardly be considered exciting compared to, say, a sword duel or a car chase. However, Hotta and Obata manage to turn Sai's game against Toya Meijin into a real page turner. They keep the tension up through the reactions of the worldwide audience, Akira's struggle to resolve the connection between Sai and Hikaru, and Toya Meijin's response to the intensity of his opponent. I'm not sure how a go player would sense his opponent's spirit through a computer screen, but going through these panels, you'd believe it was possible.

The game reaches its conclusion at the end of the third chapter, and the final result of the game actually has major implications for both of the master players. Hikaru, of course, is caught in the middle of it, and the remaining chapters deal with that fallout. As this volume closes, the manga looks as if it's headed towards an "old generation making way for the new generation" phase, and I find myself looking forward to seeing what places Akira and Hikaru will take during that shift.

Volume 14 extras include a story thus far summary, anecdotes about creating the Hikaru no Go anime (in manga form), three "A Word about Hikaru No Go" pages, the three-page bonus story "Your Treat, Waya," and ads for other Viz titles.



Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.95
Pages: 200
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Hikaru no Go