Sun, 31 August 2008
Manga Review of Hikaru No Go Volume 10: "Lifeline". Story by Yumi Hotta. Art by Takeshi Obata (Death Note). Supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan). Translated and adapted by Andy Nakatani. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha. Published in US by Viz under their Shonen Jump imprint, $7.95, Rated A for All Ages.
Hikaru just barely managed to survive the prelims of the pro test, not because he lacked the skill but because he lacked experience playing against adults. His playing has been pretty insular in terms of variety. He had only really been playing against the formal and quite dry styles of his Go study group. So when he went up against a maverick like Tsubaki he became quite rattled and let what were simply eccentric mannerisms ruin his concentration. But he's gained a ton of confidence after Waya and Isumi took him around to different Go salons last volume. Meanwhile, Akira Toya, still feeling the fear of being beat by Shindo at the beginning of this series, wants to find out just how far his rival has progressed. To do this he wants to set up a teaching match with Ochi. What he wants to do is teach Ochi to use his own style of play so when Ochi plays against Shindo, Toya will be able to tell how his own strategies would work. Unfortunately, Ochi doesn't want to be Toya's lab rat and refuses to accept his help. While he helped Shindo in volume 9, Isumi is currently the one that is suffering from a crisis of confidence and begins to lose games after being spooked by Shindo's newfound skill.
I'm still amazed after reading 10 volumes of this series that I still have interest in a book that is simply about playing Go! I mean, would I feel the same if someone wrote a manga about Monopoly? Weirdly enough, if the right Japanese artist and writer were doing it, I would probably give it at least a chance. I don't think a comic like Hikaru No Go could be done by an American comic book dude or dudette. I think the very foreignness of the concept is what attracts me to Hikaru No Go. The very oddity that a game could be taken so deadly serious that people become professional Go players. But really, I guess it's no different than people becoming professional baseball players or some other sport which is just a child's game really. The art by Death Note's Takeshi Obata is spot on as usual and he manages to convey a Rocky-like physicality and dramatic flourish to a game that is essentially an intellectual cat and mouse endeavour. Sorta like Death Note. I question sometimes whether I will get sick of this title. Then I find myself answering with a definite no. At least as long as Shindo and his friends don't develop superpowers and start swordfighting with demons.
My Grade: B