. So, this is partly a rating for the last volume in the series, Volume 23, "Endgame," and partly a rating for the entire series, and overall, I give it a 3.5. There were some really inspiring moments and some games I really enjoyed, and on average it was, while not brilliant, enjoyable as heck, and I have to give this series major props for doing what nothing else has in the last 20 years, and inspired me to take up go again.
But, the fact is that the series kind of rolled to a halt with this volume and... just stopped. Hikaru is now a respected up-and-coming go professional, regarded as a peer with his longtime rival, Akira Toya. And yet, although they've played a few matches, we never have seen the really decisive showdown we were all waiting for. And Hikaru has lost to Akira every time they've played when it wasn't Sai making moves for him. In fact, Hikaru has lost most of the really decisive, climactic games in this series. While there is always something special about them, something that makes everyone else sit up and take notice and say "He's a player to watch out for," the fact is, "potential" is just what you haven't done yet. Much as I hate to agree with that four-eyed little mushroom Ochi, "So who cares how good he was at losing?"
There were a lot of unresolved points. Fujiwara-no-Sai just faded away and never returned. We never saw the Divine Move. The supporting cast who've been part of Hikaru's life likewise just faded into the background. (Would it have killed Yumi Hotta to show Hikaru going on a date just once?) And Hikaru himself has gone from the star of the series to just one of the rising tide of new go professionals. The theme, in the end, was connecting the past to the future and ensuring a future for go, and that was inspiring enough, but for the Western reader who wants a climax and some resolution, it was a bit flat. On the one hand, this series could easily have gone on for several more volumes for all that this one wrapped anything up. On the other, I still think it could just as well have ended back at Volume 16.
So, I enjoyed reading Hikaru No Go
. It's the first manga series I have read to completion in a long time, and given that it's targeted to a middle school audience, the fact that it engaged me so and inspired me to get back into the game means it has earned my kudos. I certainly think anyone will find this an enjoyable read. But, Hotta certainly reached the limits of her storytelling abilities, which were never deep to begin with. This isn't a work of genius or a timeless classic, but it's fun and may just turn you into a go aficionado too. See you on KGS!