Hikaru No Go by Yumi Hotta. Art by Takeshi Obata And now, for a change of pace, some manga. Hikaru is a fun-loving, not too serious middle school student. One day, he finds an old go board in his grandfather’s attic. It turns out to be haunted by the ghost of an old and really good go player, Sai, who then takes up residence in Hikaru’s consciousness. This is somehow not creepy, and we are also assured that Sai is male even though has long purple hair, earrings, and a delicate face. Anyway, prompted by Sai, Hikaru starts playing Go. He joins his school’s go team and goes to go salons. At first, he lets Sai tell him where to put the stones. Doing this, he attracts the attention of Akira Toya, the best player from the best middle school go team in town. But before Akira can track him down for another game, Hikaru decides that he wants to play for himself. Over the course of the series (17 books out in America so far), Akira and Hikaru, coached by Sai, climb higher and higher into the go world. Even though this has an improbable premise and is centered on a complicated game I don’t even try to understand, the characters are so well done that the story doesn’t feel silly. Hikaru and his friends are genuinely likeable characters, and the honorable rivalry between Hikaru and Akira Toya is compelling. It’s good story-telling, with large numbers of impossibly innocent-looking wide eyes and a few adorable girls in mini-skirted uniforms thrown in for good measure.
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