Still enjoying this series, as Hikaru Shindo, the young protagonist, continues to move upwards in the go world. I realize that on one level, this series isn't a lot different than Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh or any of those other silly children's series about a boy prodigy on his quest to the BEST EVAH!!!
But the fact that this is actually based on a real game with real institutions and the events are (barely) plausible are what makes it compelling. That, plus the go, which I swear, makes me want to dig out my go books and start playing again.
So, in volume 7, Hikaru has made it to the Insei ranks, and learns there is a "Young Lions" tournament in three months in which the best Inseis will play even matches against the most recent players to make the pro ranks. This, of course, includes Hikaru's "rival," Akira Toya, who despite his denials is clearly still fixated on Hikaru as much as Hikaru is determined to catch up to him.
Unfortunately, Hikaru is still in the "B league" among the Inseis, and to play in the Young Lions tournament, he must make it to 16th place in the "A league." Will he? Well, there can't be much of a story if the hero always stays in place, can there?
Memorable moments in this volume: Sai's realization that Hikaru is losing all his games because he's learned to be afraid. As he tells Hikaru:
"You used to play against me in ignorance. But gradually, you are developing the insight needed to see the edge of my blade."
It's a great segment that is a metaphor for mental barriers one must overcome in order to make progress in life, and really, this children's manga about a go-playing thirteen-year-old, like go, is full of hidden meaning.
There is also another nice, subtle moment when Hikaru makes a bad move during a tournament, causing Sai to wince, but then he manages to turn it to his advantage. So even though Hikaru is still pretty low on the go totem pole, we can see him slowly advancing.
The side plot about Haze Middle School go club's attempts to get Yuki to come back seems kind of pointless. Hikaru is barely even involved with them anymore. I liked the brash jock girl Kaneko, but of course she still loses to Yuki, and I'm kind of annoyed that the author insists on showing all female go players as ditzy and ineffectual against any male player.
Not my favorite volume in the series, but still a pretty good one.