Pros: the build up for the tournament is in full swing, great artwork
I've been reading the manga series Hikaru No Go over the last few months. China vs Japan is the 22nd book in the series. This one picks up where 21 left off. You will want to start at the beginning of the series to appreciate these books and know the characters up to this point.
For background: Hikaru Shindo is a middle school aged boy who found an old Go board in his uncle's attic that had a ghost associated with it. The ghost, named Sai, sort of attached himself to Hikaru and helped teach him Go (a game similar to checkers or chess with strategy and each player being a single color). Hikaru passed the tests and has become a professional Go player in Japan. He was letting Sai play games (where Sai speaks to Hikaru mentally and Hikaru moves the pieces based on Sai's requests) however he enjoyed playing as himself even more as he got better and Sai's presence is now gone. Now Hikaru is playing on his own and still becoming a stronger player.
This 189 page is manga (a Japanese comic or graphic novel) and is read from right to left. There are helpful instructions for this and it's easy to get used to. This book covers 9 chapters (175-183) and continues along the storyline of the pro Go players under 18 in the Hokuto Cup. Akira, Hikaru, and Yashiro arrive and are a bit nervous, never having played in an international tournament before. The playing order is set up and Japan plays against China on the first day and will play against Korea on the second day. This book is only about the first day, against China. There is a lot of tension and anxiety about how things will turn out.
It's a quick read (about an hour), written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The characters are well developed at this point and we while we don't know the outcome of the games we do know how they will play and what motivates them. When one of the opponent's members makes a negative comment, Hikaru gets really worked up, but will that help or hinder his game play? You really don't need to know anything about the game of Go to enjoy this series. You will learn some things about the game, but the books are more about the human dynamic than the intricacies of the game. However of all the books so far this is probably the one that focuses the most on the actual moves of the game as there is a play by play analysis that is happening for the spectators of the tournament.
This book moves very quickly and there is power in the choices the characters make. I was very engaged in this book and wanted to see how it turned out. It wasn't quite how I wanted, but it wasn't bad either.
The illustrations, as always, are amazing. They are so detailed. The characters are very unique and individuals. Their thoughts and actions are portrayed well in the many frames of artwork.
I definitely recommend this series. There is only one book left in the series, but I haven't seen any slacking in the writing and artwork. I expect the last book will have a strong finish and I am looking forward to reading it.
Thank you very much to Patsy for adding this to the database for me.