Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Recommend: Hikaru no Go

Find the first volume at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

Quick! Think of all the things you could make an exciting comic series about. Your list probably includes soldiers, superheroes, maybe spies . . . but ancient board games? No way.

And yet that is the very subject of Hikaru no Go, and I can assure you, it's as exciting as a story about rainy day activities can get. It begins when Hikaru dusts off an old Go board in his grandfather's attic, and discovers Sai, the ghost of a thousand-year-old Go player. Determined to finally play a perfect game, Sai convinces Hikaru - the only person able to see or hear him - to team up with him and play Go, first against classmates and casual players, and later as part of official tournaments.

Perhaps most remarkable about this series, aside from fine art and fun characters, is how good it is at making readers want to play the game. It's been credited for a boom in the game's popularity among Japanese youth, as well as introducing Go to thousands of players abroad. Plenty of gameplay tips are found in both the story itself and in the breaks between chapters for readers hoping to sharpen their skills along with the protagonists.

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