Hikaru no Go Vol. #06 - 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: 7.99
  • Pages: 212
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0275-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Hikaru no Go Vol. #06

By Eduardo M. Chavez     February 25, 2006
Release Date: February 07, 2006

Hikaru no Go Vol.#06
© Viz Media

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

What They Say

From the beginning, Go has been just fun and games for Hikaru. But now that Akira has turned pro, it's going to take everything in Hikaru's power to catch up to his old rival. Before Hikaru can even take the pro test however, he must get into the insei school and defeat all the students. And by that time Akira might truly be out of reach!

The Review
I have to say Viz's presentation of Hikaru no Go is quite good. The cover for this volume features Sai looming large behind a Go board. His image is beneath a white Go stone placed on a black background with the logo running through the image. The opposite cover has former Haze Go Club member Yuki in a blue dragon jacket next to the long volume description. Viz's logo is pretty fancy, possibly a little to stylish for the subject matter, but it incorporates concepts of Go very well. Hikaru is in white and Go is in black and inside the "O" in Go there is a board.

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 a couple manga ads. The printing looks darn good, but I will say that is because Obata uses a lot of inking in this manga. The tone looks pretty good as well (at least in comparison to other Viz titles).

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). Moreover, 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 issues. The SFX look good as well, so overall a solid production by Viz. However, this volume also continues to show how poor Viz's QC has been for their sports titles (which includes HnG and Whistle!. On page 155, Viz had a consistency issue with the kanji on the form and the dialogue. The form in kanji says Hikaru is ranked #18. Hikaru says he is ranked #18, However, the form in English has him ranked #17 with a player named Ogawa ranked #17. I wonder if there is an inside joke from Viz to make at least one silly mistake in this series or something.

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, thus making the matches even more exciting.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Welcome to the world of competitive go, Shindo Hikaru. Up to now you have been having fun with friends and classmates. There was a tournament he participated in but that was only at the middle school level. Now he has moved up to the world of journeymen. At school some kids might be playing for fun, while others are working out their ambitions. In insei school everyone here is here hoping and training to turn pro someday. Games might still be fun, however nothing is ever taken for granted. Every match win or lose is a learning experience. Each game determines the level of player you rank. A few months of playing will not prepare anyone for this new world. The only thing that can ease the transition is playing more matches and eventually winning.

But when you are at the bottom of the rankings getting wins and getting harder matches might seem impossible. Case in point, even pro rookies have a common code and structure they have to follow. While on the surface they are treated as equals to all the other masters, they all start at the bottom. They need to learn to keep records of matches. Occasionally, there will be a need for them to do tasks like maintaining timers and aiding in the prep for events. There is a class structure established to help educate and maintain the cooperative that is pro go.

So while some go masters never go through the initiation of becoming an insei, every go player has to go through the ranks. Nothing is ever a given in this profession - not rank, not wins and even if the press tries to create it definitely not success.

After so many volumes with everything going Hikaru's way, I relished seeing him struggle with his future in the world of go. I really enjoyed the change in direction, because it compliments the game very well. Moving to this volume, Hotta kept up that theme, and really drove the concept home. Go is a game, but go is also a life and nothing should be taken for granted. This sometimes cold but very personal look at the world of professional Go has done more to create a sense of the game is like than any of the previous volume combined. Even though the game of Go is played on a personal level - one on one - being in the game means going up against everyone. Akira said it best when he said he needed to take down all 500 players ahead of him for that wiped away any sense readers would have of instant success win or lose.

I have always been a fan of games like this. What separates games like this from most is the ranking system. It is similar to a caste system where amateurs and rookies tend to be large in numbers and have to a tremendous percentage of the work done in the culture. Moving up is not easy either. There are always many others ahead of you. The selection process for advancement is very exclusive, giving allotments to the elite of the elite. And even then, if the best are not playing their best on the exam day the judges will not play favorites.

As Hikaru and Akira begin to move along their roads of Go, they will both have to learn quite a bit of the game. Hotta uses every chance along the way to teach her readers how difficult and how lonesome those roads can be. Every opponent wants to keep you down. Every bit of training is a learning opportunity open to scrutiny and sometimes praise. And the only time when you will really gain attention is by success. But where Hotta succeeds most in this title is where she is able to make the game inclusive. When she and Obata are able to turn the board into a dramatic stage, readers are able to see this game in a new light. These two make this exclusive game into something that can be enjoyed by Go players and complete strangers to the game. Every move is set up with high tension and is analyzed to give the readers a sense of the drama and significance to the match present. All the detail paid to the record keepers, timers and even to the match halls and TV presentations are done to show in perspective how this game between two people can be shared by so many (fans are encouraged to play along with the TV).

Put that altogether and readers are given a few honest perspective of why Go is a world of contradictions. Open enough to have ranks for everyone - amateur and pro - but exclusive enough to make high level success very limited. Just knowing that changes this story dramatically and gives me hope that this will continue to be one of the best sports manga that made it this side of the Pacific.


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