Hikaru no Go 9 by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata: A-

From the back cover:
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!

This volume picks up where the last left off, with Hikaru and friends playing against adults in various Go salons around town. Through the experience, Hikaru learns valuable confidence, as well as the ability to count points during play and control the outcome of a game to force a tie. These bits are okay, but not very suspenseful.

The match with Suyong is surprisingly enjoyable, even though Suyong is annoying. I liked how the other patrons of the salon really got into the match. The most significant bit, however, is that Kaio’s Go coach happens by and praises Hikaru, comparing his play to that in the first junior high tournament he entered, when Sai was actually dictating the moves. Hikaru is elated, but Sai is worried.

We end up with a couple of chapters devoted to the resumption of the pro test, which is about where I started bemoaning the small amount of pages left, because these bits are so crazily addictive. Akira, who had already shown that he feels Hikaru on his trail, checks the results from home and freaks at Hikaru’s winning streak, accepting a lowly teaching job with another kid in the test just to indulge his curiosity on his rival’s progress.

Although a manga about a board game might seem dull (the uninspired back cover text doesn’t help this impression), this volume disproves that notion when it focuses on the rivalry between Hikaru and Akira and how it fuels each of them to improve. The earlier chapters weren’t bad, but it was the latter half of the volume that was truly exciting. Also, though I’ve seen the anime and know what is coming, I’m still eager to see the plot with Sai play out because it brings a lot to the story.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind