Hikaru no Go, Vol. 17
By Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata
Published by Viz Media
Warning: This review contains spoilers for volumes fifteen and above.
At the end of volume sixteen, having reluctantly agreed to a game with Isumi, Hikaru finally found Sai in the most obvious place of all: his own game. This volume opens with Hikaru tearfully facing that truth as well as the realization that the best way for him to honor Sai is to continue to play Go. With this new determination, Hikaru confronts Akira after a match (one that has raised Akira into the Hon’inbo League) to inform him of his return. Fortunately, a match between the two of them is already on the schedule, one which they both anticipate eagerly.
Meanwhile, higher-ups in the Go Association, the upper echelon of pros, and members of the press dedicated to the game are all getting excited about the “new wave” of powerful young players rising up in the ranks, viewing it as both a personal call to arms (in the case of the pros) and a much-needed potential for revival of the game in Japan. As Hikaru and Akira finally face each other over the goban for the first time in over two years, rumors of their rivalry re-emerge among the other players, feeding this new excitement.
After volume sixteen’s shift in focus, it is exciting to be back in Hikaru’s thrall once more. Having recovered his true energy, he pulls the story along at full speed, so much so that it almost feels like Akira must come after him rather than the other way around. It is a real pleasure to see these characters on track together again–their rivalry rendered nearly poetic by the likes of Hon’inbo title holder Kuwabara, who sees Hikaru and Akira as equally gifted geniuses, dependent on each other in their quest for the “divine move.”
What’s especially refreshing about the writing in this series, however, is that even though this rivalry is heralded as something divine in nature, it does not diminish the importance of the story’s many supporting characters, each with his/her own batch of worries and rivalries–not even the students back in the Haze Junior High Go Club–but instead portrays each of them as a vital part of the living, breathing entity that is Japan’s Go. There is such warmth in each chapter as writer Yumi Hotta takes the time to linger over each of the characters’ personal stakes, great or small, and it is this feeling that allows this story to be intensely dramatic and completely down-to-earth, both at the same time.
This volume has a fantastic energy throughout, but the real drama emerges in the penultimate chapter, in which Akira admits to Hikaru that he sees another person inside him, only to be further shocked when Hikaru all but admits it. This leads beautifully into a dream sequence for Hikaru that easily brought me to tears.
Though my consistent recommendation of this series may appear excessive, it has evolved at this point into such a wonderfully crafted story, it’s very difficult to find fault. From its increasingly moving plot to its consistently fantastic artwork, the true elegance of Hikaru no Go continues to impress me with each new volume.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Lena saysOctober 8, 2009 at 11:13 pm
Thanks. I’ve finished vol 15 but yet to get my hands on vol 16. I love the way you review the series. It’s as good as the book itself!
Melinda Beasi saysOctober 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm
What a lovely thing to say! Thank you! And you definitely need to get ahold of that next volume! :)
Jan klump saysOctober 9, 2009 at 6:37 am
I’m with Lena. Your reviews are so beautiful.
Melinda Beasi saysOctober 9, 2009 at 7:28 am
Thank you. *heart*
Allen saysMay 5, 2010 at 1:48 am
I also have to agree with the people that posted some time back on how beautiful your reviews are written. Your review would give me an even greater impression if I were to find out that you were not paid to write this. The way you describe the book inspires me to immediately go reserve it at my local library.
However, I do have a few things to nitpick and question, which you can observe below.
Why do most, if not all, of the reviews here have extensive spoilers on that particular volume? Reviews are supposed to give potential readers advice on whether or not to buy a particular product. They are described, by Dictionary.com, as “a critical article or report, as in a periodical, on a book, play, recital, or the like; critique; evaluation”.
Another problem that I have with your review is that it does not have much specific comments pertaining to dialog or artwork. How was the atmosphere? How does Yumi Hotta control the suspense? What idioms or phrases does she use? Does she foreshadow? Does she arrange the panels in a special way to create effects?
Now, with that aside, let me praise you for the wonderful job you have done in writing all of those wonderful reviews. Reading this one alone made me feel refreshed, warm, and very fuzzy inside. I can truly sympathize with you in how you incessantly rant about how good this work is. Although you might have been paid to write this (“Review copy provided by the publisher.”), I can declare, with ease, that reading this review is more heartwarming than a night with a cup of hot chocolate and a collection of fairy tales. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. *~*
Melinda Beasi saysMay 5, 2010 at 7:24 am
Hi Allen. Thanks for both your praise and criticism. When I write for another editor on a website with its own rules and styles, I write reviews the way they dictate. Here in my own blog, I write them as I like to and as plays into my personal strengths (discussion of characters and relationships), which is how I have built my readership. Most reviews I write do not contain extensive spoilers, however, with Hikaru no Go, this late in the game, there is no getting past one very large spoiler from volume 15 if there’s to be any discussion of the volume at all. Discussion of artwork and dialogue is long, long in the past. Feel free not to read them if this bothers you, but this is what they are. This is what my readership enjoys.
As for being paid, this is my own website, so no, I do not get paid. You seem to be suggesting that receiving a review copy is some kind of payment. Perhaps you do not realize that this is standard practice. It is how publishers get their books reviewed, both online and in print. Any review you read in a magazine, newspaper, well-established online journal or blog is based on an advance copy sent to the publication by the publisher. Are you suggesting that a single copy of an $8 book is sufficient as some sort of bribe? I spend at least four hours on any review I write, including reading the book, taking notes, writing and rewriting. Sometimes a single review can take days of thinking and rethinking. If you think $2/hr (at best) is enough to buy my review, you’re sorely out of touch with the economic times. I do get paid to write for some other websites, by the site owners of course, not by manga publishers. They do not pay me $2 an hour.
Again, thanks for your feedback!