For this month’s Manga Movable Feast, one of the best shounen manga that I have read the past few years is getting the exposure it rightfully deserves. Hikaru No Go, serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1998, was a pretty popular manga in Japan, and in circles has been credited for making Go, a board game, rise in popularity there. It didn’t make quite the same dent when Viz released it over to the states. I didn’t even know of Go until my freshman year in college, and that was because there was someone who knew of it. One day, I was told of a Japan Day in NYC. Held in Central Park, basically it’s learning about Japanese Culture and embracing it in NY, so a lot of traditional Japanese entertainment and food is there for all to enjoy. As it turned out, one of those entertainments happened to have people play Go.
But that wasn’t what interested me in actually playing because I didn’t know everything about Go. What did interest me was the manga Hikaru No Go. Needless to say I knew what manga was, but I had not seen Hikaru No Go in bookstores — or maybe I ignored it since I had no idea what it was — and to see it sitting at the table all lined up among a bunch of Go boards naturally made me curious. I ended up playing one match I believe and left it at that, but my journey to start reading the Hikaru No Go manga began. It was a great decision to pick it up. Our main character, Hikaru, is just a normal kid attempting to enjoy his time in school when he stumbles onto a Go board in his Grandfather’s attic. That Go board is haunted by Fujiwara-no-Sai, a man who played Go in the Heian Period and was one of the best players of his time. Hikaru is now stuck with him, and is now forced to play Go unwillingly with Sai’s advice. They then end up facing Akira Toya, who happens to play Go professionally. Sai’s skills are too much the first time, with him playing a teaching game and Akira not even realizing it. The second time, however, was mere competition, as Hikaru said a couple of things he shouldn’t have said, and that angered Akira. But again, Sai’s skills are too much, and Akira loses again. This basically sets the tone for the rest of the series, as it slowly evolves from a normal brat trying to live his life normally to someone who has grown up to love playing Go.
Now, my enjoyment of Hikaru No Go didn’t end there. I once signed up to a nearby Go Center in NY, as I wanted to finally play more of the game. Unfortunately, my schedule was pretty bad, and I couldn’t quite go anymore. But not too long ago, I learned that Go Center had closed. Yeah, I was pretty sad. However, despite the bad luck, I finally plan on getting a Go set sometime, and maybe attempt to trick people into playing it with me!
Anyways, I’m curious: how were any of you introduced to Hikaru No Go? Was it at Japan Day (Japan Day buddies!), did you pick it up at a whim, or was it because of some popular manga artist (Hi Takeshi Obata)? Whatever your reasons, I would be interested in knowing how you got into this great manga.