While rummaging through his grandfather's possessions, Hikaru Shindo stumbles upon an old bloodstained Go board. Much to his surprise, he also finds that the board is inhabited by the spirit of Fujowara no Sai, a Go instructor to the Emperor during the Heian period... and he's going to reside in Hikaru's body! Urged on by Sai, Hikaru begins to play - albeit with no intention of playing seriously; though as Sai teaches his host about Go, he awakens both Hikaru's interest in the game as well as an innate hidden talent for it. Before long he finds himself paving his own path in the world of Go. Although Hikaru is naturally skilled, does he have what it takes to defeat his rival, Akira, without Sai's help? And will he ever be able to achieve the ultimate move known as the ‘Hand of God'?
Hikaru No Go is my favourite manga. I've read it again and again and I can't get enough. I love the art style, I love the comments throughout it made by Yumi Hotta. I think it's fantastic that it's based off of a game (that I still wish to learn how to play, but haven't). The plot is just so original, and it's carried through so nicely. You would think that 23 volumes about go would be boring, but it's definitely not. Not to mention the characters in the manga - so fantastically made.
*CONTAINS SPOILERS One of my favourite mangas ever. Contains excellent characters. The art isn't anything crazy but I like it and feel that it suits the story and matches with the vibe that the writer was trying to get across. The story was brilliant up until towards the end were it was revealed that despite all the build up Hikaru was just simply a brilliant player and would not be the one to perform the hand of god. The writer also leaves a bunch of loose ends. It feels like she was simply told to wrap it up and wrote the most suitable ending for the part of the story she was at. Despite this I still feel as though this is a brilliant manga as up until the last few chapters it was excellent.
Like a million other people, once I read Hikaru no Go, I tried my hand at playing go. It makes a slow and thoughtful strategy game feel intense and passionate. But I can't help but feel that the manga would've been much better without the inclusion of the concepts of the Divine Move, the god of go, or destiny. The Divine Move--the idea that there's an ideal first move in a game--is a stupid hook intended to create a clear goal for those serious about go, when in actuality becoming more skilled has less to do with getting closer to some Divine Move and more to do with getting better at predicting your opponent's moves and understanding the state of the board (which the manga also talks about). Hikaru encounters Sai, a ghost of a genius go player, who basically forces Hikaru to start playing. At first, Hikaru does so begrudgingly, but he soon develops an interest in the game. He learns go quickly and eventually becomes somewhat of a late-game maestro, being able to come back from nearly impossible board states. I especially enjoy the insei arc. I don't care for his time in the middle school go club, though I can recognize its necessity storywise. And I don't care for Isumi's time in China. There's also several other overly corny chapters and moments, including the last twenty or so chapters. Though I actually tear up during the saddest part of the manga. That part hits me hard. Y'all know what I'm talking about if you've read it. The artwork in the beginning is about a 5/10, but as it goes on, the characters start being drawn more naturally.
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