Hikaru no Go 11 by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata: A

From the back cover:
Hikaru’s classmate Ochi has won enough games to guarantee his place among the top three players who will pass the pro test. Hikaru, on the other hand, still needs to win more games, and he’ll soon face his friend Waya and Ochi himself, who has been preparing for their match with Akira’s help! When the dust clears, who will be left standing?

The pro test concluded with this volume. I really enjoyed the match between Hikaru and Waya, and how when Hikaru got stuck, he asked himself what Sai would do in a given situation. There was more focus on Sai this volume than there has been of late, as he began to realize how much Hikaru has improved and how he is becoming a capable stand-in for Sai himself.

I would’ve liked to have seen more of the match between Hikaru and Ochi, after all the set-up it received, culminating in a confrontation wherein Hikaru learned that Akira had been training Ochi nightly and deduced that it was all Akira’s attempt to gauge Hikaru’s strength through Ochi. There was a really cool panel where Ochi and Hikaru were sitting at the board with Akira and Sai behind them, respectively. But alas, much of their match happened off-camera. That said, I really liked that it was from Isumi’s perspective that we learned the result, since it meant the end of his chances of passing this time around.

The volume finished off with Hikaru doing some nostalgic eavesdropping on the middle school Go club to which he used to belong and with his mom wondering whether she ought to fret about his unusual profession. Little touches like these are what make this series truly excellent. I’m sad that I now have to wait until May for the next installment.

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