I enjoyed this volume more than the previous ones, as Hikaru's world is expanding a bit and the series is showing signs of character development without it being all about Akira vs. Hikaru.
This series is probably pretty boring if you're not into go, but I've always loved the game (in theory) even though I haven't actually played in years.
So, to refresh your memory about the major characters:Hikaru:
A 12-year-old novice go player who is haunted by the ghost of a medieval go master.Sai:
The ghost of one of the greatest go players in history, from the Heian period.Akira:
Hikaru's age, but his father is one of Japan's top go professionals, and Akira is a go prodigy.
The fourth volume of Hikaru no Ho has Hikaru and Akira finally playing a complete go game at a middle school tournament, but Hikaru decides to play Akira himself instead of letting Sai tell him where to play. Of course Akira whups his ass, and becomes quite upset, believing he had overestimated Hikaru all this time. He quits the Kaoi go club and begins testing for professional rank.
Meanwhile, Hikaru discovers the Internet. Since the series was originally published in Japan in the late 90s, the Internet is a relatively new thing (as you can tell by the boxy computers and laptops). But Sai is delighted that he can now play players from around the world without revealing that he's playing through a 12-year-old. Since he trounces everyone he plays, pretty soon the online go world is abuzz with news about this mysterious go master. When people arrive at the international amateur go tournament in Japan, they are all hoping to find out who "Sai" is.
The thing about go is that at a high enough level, you really do express your personality through your playing style, and good players remember very long sequences of moves. So it's inevitable that when Akira hears about Sai and gets online to play him, he finds his play familiar....
So, if the idea of the ghost of a medieval go master playing go online through the intermediary of a 12-year-old middle school student sounds silly to you, skip this series, but I'm actually becoming engaged with the characters. Also, I am tempted to start playing go again... I just don't have the time. :(