So, this volume didn't jump the shark, but I am definitely seeing signs of wear in the series. The resolution of the Sai vs. Toya Meijin game was satisfying, with a few little twists thrown in, but the results seem mostly intended to remove a character as an active complication in the series. Fujiwara no Sai now senses that his entire purpose in being a ghost for a thousand years was to lead Hikaru to "the divine move." Really? Those are some pretty shitty go gods he believes in if they make him linger for a thousand years just to act as mentor for some kid in another era.
Once the Sai/Toya Meijin game was over, the rest of the volume was taken up by the "B" plot, which seems to be a recurring pattern: resolve a major twist in the main plot arc, then have a tricky go game between Hikaru and someone else. In this case, it's the newly-introduced character Kuwabata 6-dan, who plays "one color go" with Hikaru. While this made for an interesting game, it smacked of trickery, i.e., a stunt to make an excuse for an otherwise unimportant game to take up so much page space. And the filler at the end with Waya and his little friend was pure fluff.
So, where is the series going? Obviously, we still have the climactic confrontation between Hikaru and Akira Toya, and Sai is hinting that he may not be long for this world. So is it going to end with Hikaru playing "the divine move" against Akira in their final game? I do hope Hotta manages not to just drag this out for another eight volumes.
This was still fun and a good read, but quite mediocre for the series, and it wouldn't have made me a fan if it was my first volume. 3.5 stars.