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Hikaru no Go


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/ Touya Akira / Shindou Hikaru / Isumi Shin'ichirō / Waya Yoshitaka / Fujiwara no Sai /

“Go”… This is kind of prejudice but I had a strong image that Go is an amusement for elderly people. However, “Hikaru no Go” has shattered my image of Go and captures the heart of young people. Original manga was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, and even it was a weekly manga, its illustrations were fair. So I was surprised very much. At the time when it started, “Hikaru no Go” was said “the world’s first Go manga” and the Nihon Ki-in (Japanese Go Association) supported it 100%, so this manga was unique in boy’s comic. But, basically this manga is about a coming-of-age story, so it grabbed Jump readers’ mind and became popular. After original manga became popular, it has been adopted into anime, video games, and so on. These got more fans. The Nihon Ki-in held some events about “Hikaru no Go”, and there are many professional Go players (Tatsuya Seki, first dan level) who has started Go influenced by the manga. The Go wave spread around more than expected.

The protagonist of this story is Hikaru Shindo, a 6th grade boy. When Hikaru was exploring his grandfather’s storehouse, he found a Go board with blood marks. That blood marks were of Fujiwara-no-Sai, a genius Go player in Heian era, and Hikaru is haunted by Sai. Hikaru doesn’t know about rules of Go and Sai’s talent, but he has to help and support Sai to achieve his great desire “Kami no Itte (Devine Move)” and play Go. Others can’t see and hear Sai. Sai instructs Hikaru how to play Go, but Hikaru feels chagrined gradually because he can’t do anything without Sai. So Hikaru decides to learn Go not to turn on Sai.

I think “Hikaru no Go” has some strong power to bring people, who don’t know about Go at all, into the world of it. In fact, the rules of Go or technical details are not explained a lot in the story. However, the writer gives us some information to understand how the game goes on, such as who is ahead of the game at present, and previous moves make the situation, and something like that by its story and character’s monologue. Sometimes there are technical words and it gives readers images “Sounds like…cool!!” I want to say “the upper right corner” etc. for once… Of course the games in this story were studied and supervised, so if you know the rules of Go, you can enjoy the story in other way also. Sai is like a fantasy part of this manga, but he gives the story a very good snap. And my favorite is Sai. He stuck around to play Go through Hikaru at first, but he shows his comical side when he’s surprised at modern civilization. And later, Sai takes a role as Hikaru’s guardian and I felt Sai looks forward to see Hikaru’s growing. Because of it, the story line of disappearing Sai made me break my heart even I knew the story… And expression on Sai’s face at that time was so calm, so I thought, “Okay, it’s enough… Then what is gonna be my fun for Hikaru no Go from next episode?”

The story goes on even Sai’s gone. Hikaru strengthens his ability to play games against professional Go players from abroad with Akira Touya, he is the same age as Hikaru and gets an education to be a professional Go player from a young age. And with friends from insei period (I liked Isumi, by the way.) Akira and Hikaru, they have known each other since there was Sai yet, and crush each other at first but playing games many times, then admit each other and become good rivals. As an aside, I thought Akira is a girl because of his name and hair style… Sorry. lol A Japanese fan on Hikaru side which Sai gave him in Hikaru’s dream (actually, Hikaru bought it after the dream)…! Yes, Sai is always with you! At the beginning, Hikaru is a Sai’s straw man but he strengthens his ability and win games. This is typical storyline of boy’s manga, however it matches unique theme “Go” very much.

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