Also a 2001-2003 anime.
Originally published over several years in a magazine called Weekly Shonen Jump, it is now available in 23 paperback volumes.
189 chapters over 23 volumes. My first estimation was that each volume took an hour and a half to read, putting it at 35 hours of information content, or something like equivalent to a 1000 page novel, but now that I've nearly finished the series I think 45 minutes per volume is actually right, which makes it somewhere between a 500 and 700 page novel.
First read (June-August 2013)Edit
Towards the end of May 2013 I'd just watched the anime and loved it to pieces, so I was curious to read the manga. I'd only read one comic book so far (Batman: Earth One) and never any manga, although I thought I might really like them if I could get in to one. I was still a bit dubious though. I ordered the first volume to investigate the prospects of reading on and paying for further volumes.
Volume 1 Descent of the Go Master (5th June 2013)
The schoolboy Shindou Hikaru discovers Fujiwara-no-Sai, a master go player from the Heian period now inhabiting an ancient go board, and lets him play through him against the young but brilliant Akira Touya at a random go salon, thrashing him and starting off several rumours about his abilities. At a festival Hikaru meets Haze school members Tsutsui and Kaga.
187 pages long, covering episodes 1-4 of the anime (3.5 episodes). I ordered it new from Amazon on May 23rd, and I got one from the ninth (2011) printing.
When this first volume arrived I wasn't able to get in to it at first, but after rewatching bits of the first couple of episodes of the anime for no particular reason on the 5th of June I looked in the book to see what similarities there were and ended up totally engrossed in it. That night I read through it from the beginning, and I ordered the next 2 volumes. I was tempted to get Luke into it as well, see if he thinks it's as good. He'd enjoyed the couple of Zelda mangas I got him once, so there was a possibility...
Volume 2 First Battle (17th June 2013)
Kaga forces Tsutsui to enter a school tournament with himself and Hikaru, and they beat the favourites to win, Kaio, but are disqualified due to Hikaru's age, Hikaru graduates to Haze and joins Tsutsui's one-man go club, Akira is horrified to discover that Hikaru has no intention of playing him again any time soon and joins Kaio's go club to play him in the next tournament.
195 pages long, covering episodes 4-8 of the anime (4.5 episodes). I ordered it used[good] alongside volume 3 on June 6th, and it was from the third (2007) printing.
It arrived far earlier than I anticipated, in 12 days, and I read it that night in bed. It took around an hour and a half, as I predicted from Volume 1 (although I didn't time it carefully).
There were interesting differences this time - it's an earlier printing and Kaga put out a cigarette instead of squashing bubblegum on the Go board. Once I'd ironed out that weird anomaly I enjoyed it. This volume, though, was better in the anime I think. I don't think they missed a single line from it, which is impressive.
Volume 3 Preliminary Scrimmage (24th June 2013)
Akira continues to disturb Kaio's go club but manages to manoeuvre himself into the third board position, while a skilled but unscrupulous Mitani is recruited by Hikaru into Haze's club in time for the tournament, at the tournament Akira confronts Hikaru and the Haze team steel themselves to win.
203 pages long, covering episodes 9-13 of the anime (4.5 episodes). I ordered it used[good] alongside volume 2 on June 6th, and it was from the first (2005) printing.
Although I ordered it alongside Volume 2 it did not arrive until a week later. I read it that day. It got better towards the end, but halfway through I was thinking 'This isn't nearly as compelling as the anime'. Now I don't know if it's just because I already know the story, but I do wonder if the dynamism of the anime and its music wasn't the magic spark, and that Luke would find the manga totally dull.
Volume 4 Divine Illusions (27th June 2013)
Team Haze beat their first opponents but each loses to their respective opponent from Kaio, including Hikaru disappointing Akira bitterly, Hikaru finds a way to let Sai play without drawing attention to himself by playing online, this new mysterious user 'sai' quickly gains attention worldwide and eventually Akira is pushed into playing him only to have the opening moves of one of the games in which Hikaru thrashed him played out again, he resigns the game due to his being in the middle of a tournament hall and distracting everyone but they arrange a rematch.
199 pages long, covering episodes 13-17 of the anime (4.5 episodes). I ordered it used[good] alongside Volumes 5 and 6, a week after ordering Volumes 2 and 3, and it was from the first (2005) printing.
It arrived with Volume 5 on June 27th, about a week after Volume 6. I read it that night in bed.
Volume 5 Start (28th June 2013)
Akira finally gets to play another match against Sai and finds that he has become a great deal stronger, and is tortured by trying to work out if it's Hikaru or not, but when Hikaru denies it he stalks off leaving Hikaru desperate to prove himself, Akira joins the pro exams and passes, shocking Hikaru into applying to join the insei program, which means leaving the Haze tournament team.
203 pages long, covering episodes 18-21 of the anime (4 episodes). I ordered it used[good] alongside Volumes 4 and 6, a week after ordering Volumes 2 and 3, and it was from the first (2005) printing.
It arrived with Volume 4 on June 27th, about a week after Volume 6. I read it the following day on the bus.
Volume 6 The Insei Exam (28th June 2013)
Hikaru succeeds in becoming an Insei but realises he's got some serious catching up to do, while everyone puzzles over why Akira is interested in him, in Akira's first match against a top dan pro he goes all out in a display of powerful and aggressive play, and despite succumbing to his opponent's great skill leaves an impression on Hikaru, as intended.
211 pages long, covering episodes 22-24, as well as the first half of episode 27, of the anime (3.5 episodes). I ordered it used[acceptable] alongside Volumes 4 and 5, a week after ordering Volumes 2 and 3, and I got a rather dog-eared and sticker laden ex-library copy was from the second (2006) printing.
It arrived in good time, but I had to wait for Volumes 4 and 5 first. I read it in bed on the 28th of June, the same day as I read Volume 5. I still can't tell if I would be as pulled in as I was by the anime if I was reading this afresh, it seems less believable that Hikaru would be so driven and advance so fast. But maybe I'm just being too critical :P
Volume 7 The Young Lions Tournament (1st July 2013)
Hikaru goes into a bit of a slump as he loses game after game but upon realising that he might be able to play Akira at an upcoming tournament if gets a high enough rank among the Insei he pulls his finger out and makes it, meanwhile Tsutsui and Kaga graduate from Haze and Mitani is pulled back to the Go club by the competitiveness of Akari's netball-playing friend, at the tournament Hikaru recovers with flair from a poor move in his first game while Akira and Ogata-sensei watch, although he loses and drops out of the tournament before he can play Akira.
205 pages long, covering episodes 25-29, except for the first half of episode 27, of the anime (4 episodes). Ordered new, but from a third party vendor on Amazon, alongside Volumes 8, 9 and 10 on June 25th, and I got a sparkly new copy from the fourth (2012) printing.
It wasn't dispatched until I sent them a message on Amazon, so I didn't get it until the 1st of July. I read it that night in bed (after reading HPMOR's new chapter :P). I enjoyed the Mitani diversion, and the rest was good enough but still not as good as the anime.
Volume 8 The Pro Test Preliminaries: Day Four (2nd July 2013)
The Honinbou title holder Kuwabara-sensei has an gut feeling when passing Hikaru in a corridor, and is defending his title against Ogata-sensei, meanwhile Akira has moved to 2-dan and Hikaru enters the preliminaries for the pro test, is intimidated by the adult go player Tsubaki, loses his nerve and only just scrapes through, Waya and Isumi decide to take him to a Go salon where they play a team match and Hikaru meets the boisterous taxi driver and Go player Kawai.
205 pages long, covering episodes 29-33 of the anime (4 episodes). Ordered new, but from a third party vendor on Amazon, alongside Volumes 7, 9 and 10 on June 25th, and I got a sparkly new copy from the fourth (2012) printing.
It wasn't dispatched until I sent them a message on Amazon, so I didn't get it until the 1st of July. Read it in bed on the 2nd. It was fun, but it definitely seems less subtle about the plot developments than the anime. The way Tsubaki intimidates Hikaru causing them to go to the Go salon where he immediately meets another boisterous adult. In the anime the 'action' scenes, where the music ramps up and you get to actually see Hikaru playing Go, kinda takes the focus of the underlying plot and helps it creep up on you, which I really liked about it.
Volume 9 The Pro Test Begins (3rd July 2013)
Hikaru beats Kawai and returns to the Go salon frequently over the summer on his own, growing significanly as a Go player, while Akira continues his career as a pro, demonstrating his prodigious ability by achieving 4 simultaneous draws, at the end of Summer Hikaru, Waya and Isumi meet up again and visit a Go salon filled with Korean players where Hikaru faces off against a stand-offish young Korean called Suyong, who insults Hikaru and incites him to play at a higher level than he has previously achieved, impressing everyone watching, and finally the Pro tests begin and Hikaru, Waya, Isumi and the brash Ochi open with 6 straight wins, which Akira notices and agrees to tutor Ochi.
207 pages long, covering episodes 33-37 of the anime (4.5 episodes). Ordered new from Amazon alongside Volumes 7, 8 and 10 on June 25th, and it was from the second (2009) printing.
Arrived with Volume 10 on the 28th of June. Read in bed on the 3rd of July.
Volume 10 Lifeline (4th July 2013)
In the pro tests Hikaru demonstrates his new and improved confidence in comparison to the preliminaries, Ochi perceives that Akira is using him to probe Hikaru and rejects his help out of pride, Isumi accidentally cheats in a tense match against Hikaru and resigns before Hikaru can speak, but goes on to lose his next few matches until Ochi's arrogance recalls him from his gloom, and as the pro test goes on Hikaru, Waya, Isumi and Ochi continue to vie for the top three positions, towards the end Ochi loses his nerve about Hikaru and learns from Akira about his mysterious strength as they commit to finding a way to beat him together.
203 pages long, covering episodes 38-42 of the anime (4.5 episodes). Ordered new from Amazon alongside Volumes 7, 8 and 9 on June 25th, and it was from the third (2011) printing.
Arrived with Volume 9 on the 28th of June. Read it on the bus on the 4th of July.
Volume 11 Fierce Battle
Ochi secures his place in the final three while Hikaru, Isumi, Waya and Honda battle for the final two positions, Isumi and Honda eventually fall back, Hikaru realises that Akira is using Ochi to test him and in their match they go all out to defeat each other, but Hikaru's growing synergy with Sai gives him the edge and he wins and goes forth ready to face Akira as a pro.
197 pages long, covering episodes 42-46 of the anime (4.5 episodes). Ordered new from a third party on Amazon alongside Volumes 12 and 14 on July 4th, and it was from the third (2012) printing.
Arrived with Volume 14 on the 11th of July. Read it the following morning in bed, after staying up tooo long to read it that night. Anime is still better!!
Volume 12 Sai's Day Out
Sai begins to feel increasingly insecure and marginalised and struggles with the conflict between his desire to play and Hikaru's needs, Hikaru's first match as a pro is in the shinshodan series where new pros go up against the top players and Touya Meijin, who is normally too busy to play in it, requests to play Hikaru specifically, their match is observed by title holders Ogata-sensei and Kuwabara-sensei as well as Akira himself, and after Sai begs Hikaru to let him use this one chance he might ever have to play against his own rival, Touya Meijin, Hikaru agrees under the condition that Sai plays as if he needs to win by 15 points, but Touya Meijin senses that that is how Hikaru is playing and requests an even match next time, later Hikaru meets top pro player Kurata-sensei at a Go festival.
189 pages long, covering episodes 47-51, except 50 (which seems to be an extra, summary, episode), of the anime (4 episodes). Ordered new from a third party on Amazon alongside Volumes 11 and 14 on July 4th, and it was from the second (2012) printing.
Arrived on July 10th. Read on the 12th of July. I enjoyed this one particularly, but probably because it's sort of begun down the path of the anime's climax now.
Volume 13 First Professional Match
It's time for Hikaru to start his regular matches that will promote him to higher dans, and his first opponent is Akira, but Touya Meijin collapses on the morning of their match and Akira doesn't show up, Sai's concern incites Hikaru to Touya Meijin and he discovers that for the duration of his hospital stay he will be playing internet Go, Hikaru arranges a match between him and Sai and upon being urged to play seriously the Meijin promises that he will retire if he should lose, their match begins and immediately Go players around the world begin spectating eagerly.
195 pages long, covering episodes 52-55 of the anime (4 episodes). Bought on June 19th 2013, all wrapped up and shiny new, first edition, from a shop I discovered in Sheffield, near Patriot Games, that has the best collection of manga I've seen anywhere yet. Not cheap though, so probably won't return...
(Note 19/06/13: I got the feeling, looking through this one and having just read the 2nd volume, that the anime and manga might actually be identical in content. And if it takes an hour and a half to read a volume, as I thought at the time, then volumes 1-18 would cover the 26.75 (with credits) of episodes with 27 hours of reading...)
Read it in bed on the 12th of July. Oooooh, getting good! Made my heart beat rise!
Volume 14 Sai vs. Toya Koyo
Ogata-sensei and Akira furiously try to work out who Sai is that he could have arranged a match with Touya Meijin as their match goes on, both of them consider Hikaru since he visited the Meijin in hospital, Sai prevails in the match and as he is basking in the thrill of the match Hikaru points out where the Meijin went wrong to Sai's amazement, Touya Meijin insists that he plans to retire and requests another match with Sai, but Sai is becoming increasingly convinced that he has served his purpose to teach Hikaru and will soon disappear, Hikaru meets Kurata again and nearly beats him in a game of one-colour Go causing Kurata to mention in front of Akira how he now considers him a threat, and Hikaru begins his first actual match in the oteai against a 3 dan.
189 pages long, covering episodes 56-59 of the anime (3.5 episodes). Ordered new from a third party on Amazon alongside Volumes 11 and 12 on July 4th, and it was from the first (2009) printing.
Arrived with Volume 11 on the 11th of July. Read it on the 13th of July, on the bus on the way to the M14 prerelease. Properly fired me up for the prerelease :D
Volume 15 Sayonara
Sai disappears and Hikaru scours Honinbou Shusaku sites to find him, eventually giving up and quitting Go.
211 pages long, covering episodes 59-63 of the anime (4.5 episodes). Ordered Volumes 15-19 new from various third parties on Amazon on July 12th, and it was from the first (2009) printing.
Arrived with Volume 19 on the 22nd of July, and I read it that day. Sad, but not as powerful as the anime.
Volume 16 Chinese Go Association
Isumi spends 2 months in China learning to overcome the inconsistency in his Go preventing him from passing the Pro test, while Hikaru racks up a string of forfeits, but when Isumi returns he seeks out Hikaru and beseeches him to play a game with him, which Hikaru agrees to hoping it won't prevent Sai from coming back, only to realise that Sai is revealed through his Go.
191 pages long, covering episodes 65-70, except 66, of the anime (4.5 episodes). Ordered Volumes 15-19 new from various third parties on Amazon on July 12th, and it was from the second (2011) printing.
Arrived with Volumes 17 and 18 on the 21st of July, I think. I read it in bed on the 22nd, the same day Volume 15 arrived. The ending was good, but again not as good as in the anime.
Volume 17 A Familiar Face
Hikaru vows to play thousands of games of Go to keep Sai alive, and eventually a game between Akira and Hikaru arrives, their first in over 2 years, they plunge into the battle and Akira finally realises, though he doesn't understand how it can be, that Sai is somehow a part of Hikaru, later Hikaru sees Sai in a dream and tells him of all the latest developments, Sai silently listens and as the dream ends hands Hikaru the fan he used in every game to point to where the stones should be placed.
205 pages long, covering episodes 70-75 of the anime (5 episodes). Ordered Volumes 15-19 new from various third parties on Amazon on July 12th.
Arrived with Volumes 16 and 18 on the 21st of July, I think. I read it on the 23rd, on the way in to work, finishing it on my break. Loved seeing Hikaru and Akira finally competing properly.
Volume 18 Six Characters, Six Stories
Six side stories including: a young Akira, present-day Kaga and the Haze Go Club, present-day Nase (the girl from Hikaru's Insei gang), a young Mitani, a young Kurata, and a younger Hikaru with Sai.
211 pages long, covering episodes 64 and 66 of the anime (2 episodes) - only 2 of the stories are in the anime. Ordered Volumes 15-19 new from various third parties on Amazon on July 12th.
Arrived with Volumes 16 and 17 on the 21st of July, I think. I read it on the 23rd, on the way home from work. Cute stories, but nothing amazing.
Volume 19 One Step Forward!
Hikaru and Akira have started playing each other and discussing tactics regularly in Akira's father's Go salon, where they first met, but they often argue and after taking insult one time Hikaru declares that he will not see Akira again until he has successfully qualified for the upcoming Japan-Korea-China tournament in which Akira automatically got a place, then on the way to see Isumi play against Kuwabara-sensei Hikaru runs into Kadowaki who Sai thrashed once and caused to drop out of the Pro prelims, and they agree to play each other.
193 pages long, covering the end of episode 75 of the anime (0.5 episodes), as well as one third of the Special. Ordered Volumes 15-19 new from various third parties on Amazon on July 12th.
Arrived with Volume 15 on the 22nd of July. I read it on the 23rd in bed. I'm almost actually bored of the Hikaru//Akira relationship :S It's just not as interesting or emotional as in the anime. I'm hoping that the final volumes add something to the story that made this worth it!
Volume 20 The Young Lions (1st August 2013)
201 pages long, covering most of the Special from the anime. Ordered 20-23 new from third parties on Amazon on July 23rd, and it was the first (2010) printing.
It arrived after the final three volumes, on the 31st of July I think. I read it in bed on the 1st of August. Pretty good, I'm excited about the last few volumes :D
Volume 21 Great Expectations (2nd August 2013)
189 pages long, covering the last 10 minutes of the Special in the first three (of 9) 'Games' (chapters) but then all new material. Read on the 2nd of August in bed or on the bus or something.
Volume 22 China vs. Japan (3rd August 2013)
189 pages long. Read on the 3rd of August on the way to work.
Volume 23 Endgame (3rd August 2013)
189 pages long. Read it in bed on the 3rd of August.
I enjoyed the ending, although I think the anime had a perfectly good one not improved on by the manga's. It got a bit preachy on a theme that I wasn't really expecting at the end, but I liked the two new insei arguing about who was best out of Hikaru and Akira, that was cute.
Overall I think I definitely preferred the anime, and I have no idea how much I would have liked the manga if I'd read it first, but that's life. I've given the manga a 1 just because it didn't improve on the anime at all and didn't really move me enough to get a 2 or higher.
Ratings, awards, mentions and recommendationsEdit
2000 Shogakukan Manga Award.
Earned its creators the 2003 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.
Links and referencesEdit
- ↑ I read the first volume on the 5th of June and although I'd already read a bit of the second half so I skimmed that part, I read the first half properly and I think it took me about 45 minutes. That times 23 volumes makes 34.5 hours of reading, which at 2 minutes per page (very rough estimate) gives us 1035 pages. It may be half that.