Hikaru no Go Vol. #09 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hotta Yumi / Obata Takeshi
Translated by:Andy Nakatani
Adapted by:Andy Nakatani

What They Say
Practicing at Go salons is turning out to be more fun than Hikaru thought. But at one salon he meets his match in Suyong Hong, a sullen 12-year-old who is studying for the pro test in his native Korea. By mistake, Hikaru insults Suyong, and now the only way they can settle their differences is by playing a grudge match!

The Review
Hikaru no Go returns with the teenage competitors in between stages of the annual national pro exams. Despite struggling early in the initial round, Hikaru is now flying high with pair of late wins and a little luck that sent to the final round-robin round. One could say Hikaru made it this far entirely because of luck, but that has not dampened the middle school student's spirits at all. Instead, the near miss has motivated the youth to work on his game like never had before.

After playing a conservative game where he constantly worried about not losing, Hikaru changes his style once he is introduced to a new setting. Through the advice of some friends, he takes his games from the stale learning halls of the National Go Association to the seedy and competitive pay as you play go centers of Shinjuku and Meguro. When money and pride is on the line every move is intensified! Obata and Hotta have moved the focus to Hikaru's game play where the board is the focal point in each chapter. Win or lose experience builds up skill and that compounds turning into confidence. In a game like go confidence could to turn to wins (for the player and the reader as the competitors take greater risks).

What initially drew me to HnG was not the art or the development of Shindo Hikaru as a teenage go player. I was infatuated with the unique twist on the standard SJ formula battle of the week. Yup, I go ga-ga for go battles. I cannot say I ever had a good time playing go or Othello. I don't think I will ever play the game again, but I sure want to see the teens and tweens in this series battle for their future. With a pro-test as the setting something is on the line with each game. Technique, strategy and desperation is on display and unlike in Naruto or YuYu Hakusho readers could actually pull off these moves with enough practice. So, even if the games are not shown in depth, those few scenes are enough to quench my thirst for excitement and competition.

Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.99
Pages: 208
ISBN: 1-4215-1066-9
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left