I recently – finally – finished reading Hikaru no Go. I can’t explain why I stopped, many years ago, around volume 10. It … just happened? I wasn’t bored with it, I didn’t lose interest … I just never got around to reading the rest, and then time passed. A lot of time, come to think of it. Over a decade, and I dare not do the exact math.
Maybe I also didn’t return to HikaGo at that time because the manga ended in Japan and there was this vibe of disappointment about it. The general consensus seemed to be that Hikaru no Go ended suddenly, unexpectedly and long before its time, without a properly satisfying ending. But to be honest … HikaGo had a perfect ending – and then it continued for five (?) more volumes. It did not end too soon, it ended too late. It missed the perfect moment for the most impactful ending.
Hikaru no Go is amazingly well-written. I cannot even pinpoint exactly what makes it so good. All I know is that in theory, Hikaru no Go really shouldn’t be this amazing. After all, it is just a manga about a bunch of boys who are obsessed with a board game! HikaGo brilliantly proves that you can apply the sports manga formula to anything, even to an old, unglamourous board game, and it becomes exciting.
I’ve noticed that there are people in manga fandom today who aren’t familiar with Hikaru no Go at all. For example, I seem to remember that the guys on ChannelAwesome’s Weekly Manga Recap sounded like they had never heard about it, made fun of its premise and clearly had no idea that it wasn’t some random, forgotten niche thing, but one of the big hits of its time! (Not that this surprises me, the podcast seemed uninteresting anyway.)
But yeah, Hikaru no Go was big. :D It started a Go boom. Not just in Japan, or in other countries that already cared about Go, but even, like, in Europe. My parents heard about it on the radio! All my friends suddenly had Go boards! I had a Go board! (I’m … not good at Go.) These are such fond memories, man.
Now for the spoilery thoughts on how Hikaru no Go ended, and how it should have ended.