This penultimate volume finally heats the suspense up again. Hikaru, Akira, and Kiyoharu are representing Japan in the Japan-China-Korea Young Lions tournament, with Kurabata Sensei as Japanese team leader. After Korean player Ko Yong Ha supposedly insulted Sai's former student, Hon'inbo Shusaku, Hikaru wants to put him in his place. However, Ko Yong Ha is the top Korean player, which means Akira Toya is the one slotted to face him. Hikaru asks Kurabata to let him play in first position instead, and Kurabata says he'll decide after he sees the results of the Japan-China game.
So, this volume shows the games between the Japanese and Chinese players. Hikaru's game against Wang Shizhen is of course where all the drama is, and for most of the game, Hikaru is getting pushed around the board. In the endgame, after all the observers have pretty much written him off, Hikaru begins to channel his inner Sai and mounts an impress attempt at a comeback.
This was reminiscent of earlier volumes with high-stakes games, and leads us to the final volume, with Japan's game against Korea. Although there was nothing really new here - I think the series has just about played itself out, which is why it's good that it's nearing its end - it still brought back a little of that go magic, and there were parts of the game where I could actually look at the board and figure out what was going on.