Hikaru No Go, The Losing Hero

The cover of Hikaru no Go volume 1 as released...
The cover of Hikaru no Go volume 1 as released by Viz Media on June 16, 2004 in North America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week I finally finished my marathon on reading one of  my memorial manga (after finally download it to my cell phone). I first know the series through its anime. As you can see from the title above, it’s Hikaru No Go. I am pretty sure, some of you might have heard of it but, for some who haven’t, let me write a bit of the summary for you.

Hikaru no Go (ヒカルの碁, lit. “Hikaru’s Go”) is a manga series, a coming of age story based on the board game Go written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata with an anime adaptation. The production of the series’ Go games was supervised by Go professional Yukari Umezawa (5-dan). The manga is largely responsible for popularizing Go among the youth of Japan since its debut, and in other areas such as China, South Korea, and Taiwan. – Hikaru no go Wikipedia.

Warning! Spoiler ahead!

The plot itself tells about the journey of Shindo Hikaru to become a great Go player. Hikaru met a Go player spirit from the Heian era named Sai Fujiwara. Because of Sai’s passion in Go, even in his spirit form, he still wished to be able to keep palying Go and attain the Divine Move (a perfect game). His spirit reside  in a Go board that belong to Honinbo Shusaku (a real life famous Go player at Edo period). The board later found by Hikaru at his grandfather’s shed and that was the first time Sai made an appearance in front of Hikaru. He asks for Hikaru’s help to let him play Go through Hikaru’s mind (he dictate the move to Hikaru). Even though Hikaru reluctant at first, he still fulfill Sai’s wish and his first opponet was Touya Akira son of Touya Meijin, the famous/pro Go player at the modern period (world where Hikaru live now).

Akira is the same age as Hikaru but he already aiming to become a pro player like his father. But Sai defeat him easily (game that more of teaching than beating). Since then Akira think Hikaru as his Rival (in reality, it was Sai who beat him). In other hand, Hikaru who saw how passionate Akira chase him start to show his desire to play Go with his own ability. At their second meeting, Akira defeat him and stop thinking Hikaru as his rival. Hikaru’s pride was hurt by this. He wanted to make Akira to see the real him rather than Sai.  So, he then start to learn Go seriously (taking course, start to take part in formal game, and practice every night with Sai) and finally develop his Go ability in very short time and keep up with Akira (even Sai recognize his ability).

Because, along the way he beats and attract the attention of some pro player (this was Sai’s), he become famous as Akira’s rival. No one believe this at first but after having see or match with him, they all recognize his power. And after some time, Sai’s never play a game even once (Hikaru was to busy with his tournament). So, after some break from tournament, he fulfill Sai’s wish to have a match with Akira’s father. They do the match through internet (they cannot show who the real Sai was). With fierce battle, Sai won the game but apparently Hikaru know the right move to counter Sai that can result in Touya’s win. Sai’s realize the purpose he still stay in human world (which is to teach Hikaru that later would teach the next generation – preserve Go perhaps). He also realize his time have come to leave Hikaru. Hikaru didn’t realize when Sai was gone (he was too sleepy).

Hikaru search for him and blame himself for not let Sai play many game. He stop playing Go, even Akira cannot persuade him to come back. It was after he decided to play one match that he know that all along Sai was in his game.  Hikaru make a come back pursuing Akira that was far ahead of him. Winning, losing, and gain experience to achieve the divine move.

That was quite long for a summary, ne? Gomen. The summary was just a general sum up of the story, to feel the soul of the manga, you have to read it by your own eyes and give your own thought. But I guarantee you, you’ll love it.

Now, for some thought of mine. Honestly I don’t know nothing about Go and have zero interest in learning it (it seems to complex). But you see, I love shōnen manga (I’m a women and quite dislike shoujo – some of them are too moe, I prefer romanticism in Shonen though) and I like it when the shōnen hero get praise by the other character or have a strong friendship (One Pice). Hikaru and Akira have a very, very sweet rivalry (don’t mind me, I’m just in my fangirl moment)

I like how the writer develop Hikaru and other characters in this manga. He start as nothing and even has zero interest in Go, but the need to be recognize as himself with his own power give him the motivation. Hikaru seems real to me. His character trait feels real. He’s not some kind of super manga hero that born with super power or intelligent to solve every problem. He trained a lot and loses many time (to the point that irritates me, coz I really hope he would win). But that’s reality, right? People cannot win a game one after another, right?. He even sometimes felt depressed and scare of losing, but he always get back on his feet after realize the problem. He also a nice kid, even though he always scold Sai, he really care for him. And about the other characters, their jealousy over one ability did not make them a bad guy, it just drive them to do better. Especially Hikaru, even though the other person is the rival, outside the game, he still thinks them as friend.

Hikaru’s journey isn’t always up. It has its down. Until the end of the manga, as long as I can recall, Hikaru never wins against Akira (their last game result was unknown). He even lose at Hukuto Cup (China, Japan, and Korea). Many fans even critic this lose, I even sad myself, I really hope he would win. But I guess the writer wanted to show us that Hikaru will grow even more, that the Go generation will rise and develop (because Hikaru lose and he won’t give up). I really wanted to see the next Hokuto Cup. Will Hikaru definitely win this time? But why oh why the manga have to meet its end like that. It was still beautifully ended, of course, but I want more….. (in the slightest hope, I always wait Hotta sensei will continue it somehow. Hope won’t hurt, right?)

And I really love the art. When the manga begin, Hikaru just a six grade students. I read the manga in two days and at the end they were all high schoolers. It seems fast, right? But you don’t feel like it. The time seems flow naturally.

Huft, Wow, it end up quite long, ne? I hope who ever read this and haven’t read/watch Hikaru No Go (the anime was quite good, it has really nice opening and ending theme song) will love it as much as I do.

Sorry for the grammatical mistakes, hope it won’t hinder you to read my post or the manga itself. Thank You 🙂



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Simple and complex at the same time, but not twisted, of course!

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