Isumi undergoes rigorous training -- in China!
Writer/Artist: Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata
Translation: Naoko Amemiya
Adaptation: Naoko Amemiya
What They Say
Since Sai's disappearance, Hikaru has given up go! Meanwhile, undefeated by his failure to pass the pro test, Isumi plays his heart out in China. His foreign training teaches him unique ways to handle the stress of mental challenges and competition. Upon his return, he asks Hikaru for a rematch! But how good will Hikaru's game be after such a long break--and without Sai...?
The setting switches from Japan to China as the focus shifts to Isumi, whom we haven't seen since the Pro Test several volumes back. His defeat then made it seem as if he was done with go, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The upcoming Pro Test is firmly in his sights, and when invited to participate in friendship games with the Chinese Go Association, he goes, intending to use the experience to prepare for the Pro Test.
Unfortunately, things do not go as planned. Isumi puts so much pressure on himself he can't play his best and loses to a player several years his junior. Frustrated with his performance, he extends his stay at the Chinese Go Association in hopes of improving his game. But the caliber of the Chinese is on a completely different level, and his confidence steadily wanes. Worst of all, Le Ping, a pro who looks like a younger version of Waya, takes to mocking Isumi. The creators do an excellent job showing Isumi clearly out of his element in a place where he doesn't understand the language and his opponents are middle school age pros. However, this only sets the stage so that Isumi looks even better as he perseveres and ultimately transforms to a better version of himself, thanks to insight from one of the Chinese instructors.
Meanwhile, Hikaru remains depressed over Sai's disappearance and baffles friends and fans with his refusal to play. Though the urge to play go remains strong, he won't allow himself out of feelings of guilt. However, when the newly returned Isumi asks Hikaru for a rematch, he can't say no and agrees. With both players having gone through so many changes since they last played, this will be a game to watch!
While Hikaru has gone through a lot of changes since the Pro Test, so has Isumi, and his journey to taking his game to the next level is fascinating to watch. As the two sit down to a rematch, they're completely different players than they were last year. It'll be interesting to see how the outcome affects Isumi's mental state going into the Pro Test and whether this game will shake Hikaru out of his slump.
Volume 16 extras include a story thus far summary, anecdotes about the creators' research trip to the Chinese Go Association, and ads for other Viz titles.