Hikaru no Go Vol. #04 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-59116-688-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Hikaru no Go Vol. #04

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 08, 2005
Release Date: June 15, 2005

Hikaru no Go Vol.#04
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
Another tournaments underway. Three members of the cutthroat Kaio Go Club face three members of the budding Haze Go Club. As tensions rise, the anagonism between both teams culminates in a telling match between Akira and Hikaru. Who will win? Which team will win? Even if the answer surprises you, the ensuing drama won't.

After the excitement of the tournament, there's nothing left for Hikaru and Kimihiro to do... except learn how to play more Go! in the process, Hikaru finds a way to let Sai play all the Go his fluttering heart desires without everybody and their mother pointing and staring at Hikaru. Find out what Hikaru discovers in this volume of Hikaru no Go!

The Review
I have to say Viz's presentation of Hikaru no Go looks very good. This volume has the standard Shonen Jump formating in red, white and black. This cover features the three members of the Haze Middle School Boy's Go Club in a white stone. The image is a lttle weird as the guys are all in their casual wear (the only times you see them together is at school). The opposite cover features Haze team captain Tsutsui Kimihiro (in his uniform) on a white background next to the volume description. The logo Viz uses is pretty fancy. It has a font style similar to the Shueisha version and also has a go board in the "O".

Inside Viz retains the volume header and all of the following chapter headers. They have also translated notes from the author and the editor. Viz has also included a preview blurb for the next volume and there are no manga ads.

Obata's art is very tight. Actually this has to be some of the best art I have seen in a Shonen Jump title in a while (yes possibly better than Katsura's). Characters have a good sense of proportion. Their lines are thick and very strong. Obata's inking is especially good as it used for tone and shading in a variety of situations (layout and character/costume work mainly). I love Obata's eyes they are a good size and still very expressive (once again because of the inking). And the manpu he uses on his characters are simple but brings out a good amount of comedic relief to what is a rather funny series already.

The layout is very good. It is very active and keeps readers active in the reading process as well. What I mean by this is that the layout through manpu sets up tone and mood of scenes. Action, tension, shock or fear can be expressed by the layout. And in a sport like go where the action is very methodical that is critical in order to create excitement. The backgrounds are also very good. This is also very important for every sports manga. It gives readers a few perspectives at the game at hand. The best change the perspective and depth to give new looks at the playing field (or in this case the board) to give readers an overall look at the game, often creating a sense of realism for hardcore fans of the sport to appreciate and new fans to learn from. Very impressive work, because Obata does all of this with detail and style.

This is how a sports manga should be translated. Nakatani does a solid job with both translation and adaptation. The translation is easy to read and understand. I did not notice spelling isues but I wonder about the use of quotations in the later chapters. But what makes this a good production is how Viz hired a go expert to provide consultation. Janice Kim can provide insight behind the game of go and help make the script easier to understand for readers new to the game. This creates a better sense of realism, thusmaking the matches even more exciting.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
People can be taught and taught an endless amount of times but without personal experience one cannot be expected to actually learn what it is like to act for oneself or compete. Hikaru has been practicing with his classmates, who with all respect are much better than he, but he lacks real match day experience. The pressure is just not there when you practice. And the variables of playing new players every game brings even more to the go board. It truly is a completely different game that is being played and Hikaru does not get that.

Hikaru is playing for fun. He wants to advance, but he does not understand what a real match commands of a good player. To Hikaru the objective is simply winning. The game is a game it is not fun unless you win or keep the match competitive. Learning is important but the excitement is what helps make it fun. He does not get that those who have serious ambitions for go they play to learn first. They play to only advance their game. They play to unlock the secrets of the game and to them the wins should come naturally from experience.

So, when Hikaru faces off against pro-hopeful Toya Akira and he plays Toya himself, the differenes frustrate Toya. Toya was obsessed with Sai's game. He was not aware that Sai's game was not Akira's game, therefore the difference was shocking to him. Instead of plying against someone who would expand his own playing style, he faced a complete amature. Hikaru, at this stage, can only see two things. One is the game before him, which limits him a few moves. The other is similar to where Akira wishes him to be, playing to create a beatiful game of stradegy. Unfortunately, Hikaru cannot do this while is playing for he cannot build on these moves often becoming distracted by the rest of the match. To a pro Hikaru almost makes fun of the game. He lacks the respect and knowlege to play the game at the level Sai places him in. They are right but Hikaru has to learn to play for himself and not for Sai, to ever accomplish that.

The difference between the amature ranks and the pros can be huge. If we look at the world of sports the numbers are staggering for there are a few thousand minor leage baseball players that will never see the big leagues. There even thousands more college students that will never see a contract. The same goes for football players, basketball, hockey.... Everywhere there are people that wish to turn pro practing for years, taking tests and going to combines before falling short. There are hundreds that get contracts and are out of their respective sports within a year. The world of sports is one were truly on the strongest, fastest or smartest can survive. Yet having the mentality to consider a game as a profession will keep you playing for years to come.

The difference is innovation. Being able to change your game or sport means longevity. Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons is a defensive machine. His offense has fundamental flaws, but his defense makes him a valuable prescence. JT Snow is possibly the best defensive first baseman of all time. His Gold Glove Awards guaranted him playing time for long enough so he could develop his hitting. Paul Molitor was a hitting machine. On the field he would handle himself well, however his bat added years to his career before he became a Hall of Famer as a designated hitter.

In this series the three main characters have different levels of ability. Sai has transcended the game entirely. He generally sees the game as entertainment. He enjoys winning easily while creating a beautiful game and competitive matches equally. His love for the game is great and his has remained on this plane to continue to play for years to come.

Toya has begun his path to become a professional. As his future will be dependent on the game his goal is to achieve the perfect game. He must figure out the strategy that will give him the strength to consistently compete at the highest levels. The game of go no longer is a game for fun, it is his livelihood and as such he must consider it a job and his life's calling at this point in time.

At the bottom is Hikaru, who plays the game for entertainment. He enjoys the competition and seems to have an appreciation for the game and the tactics. At the same time he does not understand how the difference between his skills and those of his opponents can frustrate others, especially when he takes advantage of Sai's abilities. The handicap could ruin a future pro. It could also create chaos amongst a community of players completely challenging the ranking structure that is the basis of the go skill assessment system.

Seeing those differences are very important to get an understanding as to how the game is played and respected within the community. The confusion he caused might have been overblown but I could really imagine some of the more hardcore become just as obsessed with Sai and Hikaru considering how they came out of nowhere to hit it big on the scene. The change of pace is excellent and comes at perfect time when Hikaru is starting to want to play for himself a bit more. The drama is really good and the tension between Toya and Hikaru is developing into something that I feel could end up in disaster for one of the two (which I would highly appreciate, since I don't like either character). Ultimately, seeing these three and the rest of the cast feel the ups and downs of playing is what brings me back each volume. The one-on-one nature of this competition is perfect for drama and rivalries and that is natural in sport and often very entertaining in manga.


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