Hikaru no Go Volume One was released by VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint.

Hikaru no Go Volume One
Written by: Yumi Hotta
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 19, 2004

12-year-old Hikaru Shindo is the main character in Hikaru no Go. At the beginning of this volume, he’s going through items in his grandfather’s attic in the hopes of finding something of value that he can sell to earn some quick money. He is accompanied by a young woman named Akari. During his search, Hikaru comes across an old Go board. When Hikaru looks at the board, he insists he can see blood stains. However, Akari is unable to see anything on the Go board.

Suddenly, an apparition that only Hikaru can see comes out of the Go board. The apparition is a man named Sai Fujiwara, who was a Go instructor for the emperor of Japan a thousand years ago. However, when Sai was accused of cheating during a game, he was banished. Sai committed suicide and haunts the Go board. Sai wants to the chance to play the “Divine Move,” and he wants to accomplish this through Hikaru. After some convincing, Hikaru begins taking Go lessons at a local community center. In addition to the lessons, Sai is also giving Hikaru directions on how to play the game.

After causing some problems and being kicked out of the class, Hikaru goes to a Go salon. At the salon, Hikaru ends up playing a game against Akira Toya, a boy his age who is considered to be a Go prodigy. Through Sai’s instruction, Hikaru is able to beat Akira. This event causes Akira and Hikaru to become rivals.

When it comes to the artwork in this volume, the drawings on the first four pages are very detailed and look very nice. However, starting on the fifth page, the style changes to a more “typical” manga look. Personally, I found this change in art style to be a bit jarring. While I understand that it would take a lot of work to draw the entire manga with the detailed style in the early pages, it makes me question why these detailed drawings were done at all. In the rest of the volume, Obata employs many of the tropes typically associated with shonen manga, even though this series is a shonen title that focuses on a board game instead of physical fighting.

By the time I finished this manga volume, I thought that the story of Hikaru no Go was decent, but it’s not a manga series that I’m going to rush out of my way to read more of. However, if I were to come across future volumes of the series at my local library, I’d be willing to check them out to see if the story progresses into something a little more interesting.