What’s a 6th grader to do when he’s suddenly cohabiting his own body with a master Go player from the Heian period (think early medieval Europe in the West)? Well, basically, he plays go. Go is a game similar to chess (apparently, if chess is a batlle, go is a war). Hikaru Shindo finds himself trapped when he attempts to sell his ancestral Go board and uncovers instead that its history, and his own hidden talents, allow the ghost of Fujiwara-no-Sai to possess him at will. Sai, though by nature a sweet-tempered man who’s only desire is to play Go and achieve the “divine move,” get’s a wee bit stressed when he’s not allowed to play. This stress manifests itself by making Hikaru vomit suddenly, and as much to keeps things clean as to pacify the ghost, Hikaru journeys into a Go salon for the first time. As he learns more from his new guest, and gets to like being able to beat the pants off unsuspecting players, Hikaru manages to catch the eye of Akira Toya, a prodigy player who’s startled at Hikaru’s novice clumsiness paired with the wisdom of his moves. What Hikaru doesn’t know is that he’s just picked an opponent who’s one of the best in Japan, and who’s father, Toya Meijin, is the world’s leading player. This sweet and energetic book manages to make Go exciting and suspense-filled. The characters are all natural and at the same time show the marks of any serious players: they are committed, focused, and always striving for the next level of play. The artwork is also wonderfully clean and sweeping, giving Hikaru an adorable swagger while Sai retains his robed majesty even as a spirit.

Hikaru No Go, vol. 1
ISBN: 9781591162223
by Yumi Hotta
Art by Takeshi Obata
Viz 2004

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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