Hikaru no Go, Vol. 1: Descent of the Go Master - Yumi Hotta, Takeshi Obata I'm not going to do a full review of this series, mostly because I'm going to be borrowing these books piecemeal and therefore they won't be very consistent.

I was first introduced to this series in college when I took a short term (through the month of January) class on Go. The professor was not only teaching us how to play but also the history of the game and its place in Asian society. We watched a couple of episodes from the anime and read some of the manga. Most people probably weren't to thrilled but I was a huge fan of manga then (still am) so I thought it great fun.

The story is rather cliche as far as shounen manga goes, a young boy discovers something that moves him towards his destiny. In this case it's a Go board stained with tears and blood only he can see and a ghost from the Heian Period takes up a space in is consciousness. Sai only wants to play Go but Hikaru doesn't want to play what he sees as a boring old person game. This novel is mostly them fighting back and forth about playing or not playing Go.

One of the best things about this series is how much you can learn from it. You learn about history as well as lots about Go. That might sound boring to some but the author shows you the intense excitement that can come from a well played game. Chess can teach you some things about warfare, but really Go is about conquest and gaining more ground then your opponent. It is a battle and watching two well matched adversaries is very exciting. Even in the static drawings of this manga, the author and illustrator (separate people in this case) capture that intensity.

In the end, that is what draws Hikaru to the game for himself. He sees children his age and younger with such a passion and intensity about this game and he can't help but be drawn to it. Whether or not Go becomes his passion is waiting for the reader in future volumes.

*Historical Facts*: The Heian period is considered the Golden Age of Japan, this is when the Tale of Gengi is set. The emperor's court had strong ties to China at the time, which is where they got many of their manners, fashions, etc. and even Go.