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Hikaru no Go, Volume 1: Descent of the Go…

Hikaru no Go, Volume 1: Descent of the Go Master (2004)

by Yumi Hotta (Text), 健 小畑 (Illustrator)

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  1. 00
    The Prince of Tennis, Volume 1 by Takeshi Konomi (2below)
    2below: Both are about kids who aim to become the best at their respective game/sport, growing and improving as they overcome new challenges. Hikaru no Go has a little more variety than Prince of Tennis when it comes to those trials: with over 30 volumes, PoT begins to feel a little redundant but if you like either one of these, it's worth exploring the other.… (more)

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Hikaru no Go, written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata (who is also the artist for the very popular manga series Death Note), is one of the first manga series that I made a point to collect in its entirety. I had first borrowed Hikaru no Go from my local library, but less than half of the series was available there. But I was so impressed by what I had read, I went and bought myself a complete set of Hikaru no Go, all twenty-three volumes. I was pleased when Hikaru no Go was selected for the December 2012 Manga Moveable Feast because it is a series that I'm quite fond of. I'm not the only one, either. Hikaru no Go received a Shogakukan Manga Award in 2000 and was later awarded an Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize in 2003. Hikaru no Go, Volume 1: Descent of the Go Master was originally released in Japan in 1998. Viz Media first serialized the manga in issues thirteen through sixteen of Shonen Jump before publishing the collected volume in 2004.

While scavenging through his grandfather's attic, Hikaru Shindo comes across an old go board which he hopes he can sell for some extra cash. Instead, he finds that he must share his consciousness with the ghost attached to the board, Fujiwara-no-Sai, a go master from the Heian period. Although Sai died long ago, his spirit lingers on due to his great love for the game. Even in death he strives to play the Divine Move. But for some reason, he's stuck with Hikaru, a sixth-grader with absolutely no interest in go. But Hikaru isn't a bad kid. With the right kind of encouragement--namely Sai agreeing to help him out with his history classwork--Hikaru is happy to allow Sai the opportunity to observe and even play a few games of go. And Hikaru can't help but be impressed by the intensity of the players he sees, some who are even younger than he is. A spark has been lit in Hikaru. He started paying attention to go for Sai's sake, but now a small part of him wants to play for his own.

Hikaru no Go has a great, engaging story, but it's Obata's artwork that really brings everything together. At it's very core, Hikaru no Go is a manga about a boardgame. Now, I personally love games, but I still wouldn't necessarily think that they would make a compelling subject for a manga series. Hikaru no Go shows that they can. Obata's artwork captures the excitement and drama surrounding go and its players with effective and cinematic panels and page layouts. The character designs are memorable and distinctive without resorting to caricature; even the individuals in groups and crowds each have their own look. Obata also adds some nice touches to Hikaru's design, often incorporating the number five (pronounced "go" in Japanese) into his clothing choices. And I love Sai's design, too. He can go from elegant to adorable at a moments notice.

One of the greatest things about Hikaru no Go is that it requires absolutely not prior knowledge of go to enjoy the series. To be completely honest, almost everything I do know about go I initially learned from reading Hikaru no Go. The series even inspired me to give the game a try. Hikaru himself is a complete beginner at the start of the manga. But Hikaru no Go also reveals the "tenacious perseverance and hard work" that is required of players who are serious and passionate about go. The series is even supervised by Yukari Umezawa, a professional go player holding the rank of go-dan at the time of the publication of Descent of the Go Master. As Hikaru learns more about the game, so do the readers, but the technicalities and rules of go never overshadow the story and characters of Hikaru no Go. The series really is a lot of fun; even having read it before I still enjoy it immensely.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Dec 28, 2012 |
I'm actually liking this series quite a bit. There's more emotion involved than I thought (especially in terms of the Akira plot). I'm going to read the whole thing so that I can booktalk it more readily once I move it to the kids' comics area. ( )
  Knicke | Feb 18, 2011 |
Okay, I'm impressed.

I've heard a lot of good from folks who's opinions I valued but even so I didn't expect this series to be as good as this. Here I was expecting another (typical) monster-battling type series and was especially pleasantly surprised to find that it is so much more than that.

Yes, the main character Hikaru doesn't exactly strike me as sympathetic or a good role model, but I can see that he's changing/ growing which leads me to believe that he will eventually become that good a character.

A lot of good in here about honor, place, and respect. I look forward to reading future volumes! ( )
  savageknight | Feb 18, 2010 |
OK, considering I know nothing about the Japanese game Go, this kid's manga was surprisingly entertaining. I mean, I just requested this on a whim from PBS while randomly flipping through their manga section. I didn't expect anything good. But something about Hikaru's growing awareness of the "old people's" game of Go is quite fun and I'd love to see just where the book goes as he and Sai continue their partnership. ( )
  makaiju | Mar 17, 2009 |
Hikaru is a typical you boy, more interested in sports than school and learning. But then he stumbles across a haunted Go board and takes the first step on a journey that he would never have imagined taking. At first, Fujiwara-no-Sai can't understand what it is about Hikaru that would pull Sai out of the board; but then Hikaru develops an interest in Go and Sai realizes that with only a little training Hikaru will develop into an exceptional Go player. Hikaru's interest develops quickly, along with his ability, after he plays Toya Akira, a boy his age but already an exceptional talent in the Go world. Hikaru and Akira quickly develop a rivalry that carries both through the world of Go. Sai's and Akira's stories are just as interesting as Hikaru's and, just like Hikaru, they continue to evolve as their lives intertwine with one another's. I can recommend this series for adults as much as children. ( )
  DNWilliams | Oct 18, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hotta, YumiTextprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
小畑, 健Illustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
While exploring his grandfather's shed, Hikaru stumbles across a Go board haunted by the spirit of Fujiwara-no-Sai, a fictional Go player from the Heian era. Sai wishes to play Go again, having not been able to since the late Edo period, when his ghost appeared to Honinbō Shūsaku, an actual Go player of that period. Sai's greatest desire is to attain the Kami-no-Itte (神の一手) – "Divine Move", or the "Hand of God" – a perfect game. Because Hikaru is apparently the only person who can perceive him, Sai inhabits a part of Hikaru's mind as a separate personality, coexisting, although not always comfortably, with the child.

Urged by Sai, Hikaru begins playing Go despite an initial lack of interest in the game. He begins by mimicking the moves Sai dictates to him, but Sai tells him to try to understand each move. In a Go salon, Hikaru defeats Akira Toya twice, a boy his age who plays Go at professional level, by following Sai's instruction. Akira subsequently begins a quest to discover the source of Hikaru's strength, an obsession which will come to dominate his life.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159116222X, Paperback)

Hikaru Shindo is like any sixth-grader in Japan: a pretty normal school boy with a two-tone head of hair and a penchant for antics. One day, he finds an old bloodstained Go board in his grandfather's attic-and that's when things get really interesting. Trapped inside the Go board is Fujiwara-no-Sai, the ghost of an ancient Go master who taught the strategically complex board game to the Emperor of Japan many centuries ago. In one fateful moment, Sai becomes a part of Hikaru's consciousness and together, through thick and thin, they make an unstoppable Go-playing team. Will they be able to defeat Go players who have dedicated their lives to the game? Will Sai achieve the "Divine Move" so he'll finally be able to rest in peace? Begin your journey with Hikaru and Sai in this first volume of Hikaru no Go.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Hiraku Shindo is like any sixth-grader in Japan: a pretty normal school boy with a two-tone head of hair and a penchant for antics. One day, he finds an old bloodstained Go board in his grandfather's attic-- and that's when things get really interesting. Trapped inside the Go board is Fujiwara-no-Sai, the ghost of an ancient Go master who taught the strategically complex board game to the Emperor of Japan many centuries ago.… (more)

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