Sunday, July 17, 2011

Austin Go Club, Hikaru 5

Hello all! I'm trying to update more! And while we'll see how long that lasts, I'd like to improve with the whole timelines thing.

So, speaking of that, Austin! After the initial post, my computer died, and the coldness of Great Mountain Games lost out to a shady stoop. So, despite the heat, I actually ended up sitting outside for the majority of the day. Chew won the first game, and then lost the second one. After that, we went for lunch, which involved crossing a busy street--something I'm not used to anymore since Dallas isn't really made for pedestrians.

After that, Chew and I bought Mansions of Madness, so that I could read the rules while he finished up his last two games. Instead, I ended up walking to Goodwill and Half Price Books, both of which are fairly close to GMG, then BookWoman, a feminist bookstore right next to GMG. I ended up spending more than I perhaps should have, but omg books. And clothes. Mostly books though. Yay!

Afterward, I put my purchases in the car and headed towards GMG, only to find that my shady stoop wasn't quite so shady and that there were no seats inside the shop. So I grabbed a bottle of water and sat in the sun, reading the instructions for MoM and getting progressively more sunburned. Lemme tell you, the second I saw someone leave the shop I swooped in to snatch that seat, which turned out to be a good decision--Chew had just finished his final game, having won two and lost two. All in all, I'd say he did pretty well, and the trip was fun. We dissected the games afterwards, during the car ride home, and Chew reports that he felt like he made some pretty big mistakes, but recognized what those mistakes were and perhaps would have won without them. Additionally, all the games were very close, which I know he's proud of. He tells me he's got replays of them, which I'm sure he's posted on the forums or sent to the relevant people.

He read my blog and pointed out that, during the time that I suggested that something had changed in the game, everyone was transitioning into endgame. That makes sense, and I wish I'd figured that out on my own. Such is life, though.

After I got back, I finally read volume five! Yay! So far, I think this was my favorite episode. Hikaru is less of a brat and much more interested in go (Chew tells me not to capitalize go, which goes against all my instincts but he would know better than I), which I think makes him a much more interesting character. In the first section, you see the continuation of Sai's Online Adventures, which makes me consider what Sai would think if he went onto Cracked, or Something Awful, or (heaven forbid) 4chan.

Anyway. Sai plays go online. He fights (plays against? battles?) Akira, who is absolutely convinced it's Hikaru, to the point that he races over to the internet cafe later in the story, only to find Hikaru watching youtube or whatever. That scene was adorable, by the by, and highlights for me that Hikaru, first and foremost, is a kid--directly contrasting with Akira, who is first and foremost a go player. More on that later, but the intensity with which Akira is pursuing Hikaru becomes nearly self-destructive in this episode, as we see him skip the first game in the pro test to play online. That, I think, is a fairly significant character point for Akira--we know he's obsessed with Hikaru, and that obsession climaxes here with Akira putting his future at risk to chase a ghost. Of course, we find out later that Akira turned pro anyway, but that's not the point. At the moment, he got a black mark and lost a game because he wanted so badly to figure out Hikaru, and I'm sure that'll become important later in the series.

Now, as to what I said earlier about being a kid versus being a go player. I'm certainly not implying that the two are mutually exclusive; obviously Akira is a kid as well as a go player. But there's certainly a question of priorities, and until this episode, Hikaru's priorities are firmly planted with Being A Kid. He seems to like the socialization of the school go club, he worries about his grades (seriously, Hikaru? A zero on a test? Don't you get points for, like, putting your name down correctly? How'd you mess that up?), bets with ramen, thinks girls have cooties, and so forth. He reminds me of my nephew.

Contrast Akira. He's all about go, go, go. We never see him talk about his grades, we don't see him interacting positively with peers. In fact, we rarely see him do anything but play go. This is all well and good--Akira's stated goal is to be The Very Best Pokemon Master Go Player that he can be, and to follow in the footsteps of his dad, after all--but, like I've said before, Akira focuses on go to the exclusion of everything else ever. Now, he's specifically focusing on Hikaru playing go to the exclusion of everything else ever. In this episode, we do see that lessen a bit, but there's still the implication that the embers of Akira's Hikaru Obsession are still there, just waiting to burst into flame again.

Once Hikaru figures out that he could, theoretically, catch up to Akira, his priorities change. He's all about the competition, quits the go club (dramatically!) and takes the test. Well, starts to anyway; we're left with a cliff hanger. I suppose Hikaru could hulk out and run through the streets banging people across the head with the go board, but somehow I doubt that's going to happen. He's stopped reading manga, he requests go boards, and he risks the friendships he's made at go club--Hikaru's in deep now.

Also in this issue we get a little bit more about Hikaru's family, which I really liked. Neither his mother nor his grandfather seem to quite understand Hikaru's sudden obsession with go (hint: HE IS POSSESSED!!!!111), but they support it regardless. His grandfather buys him the implements of the game, his mother takes him to the test. Of course, his grandfather suspects that Hikaru's going to give the game up eventually, and his mother is concerned that he can't sit still for any long period of time, but both ultimately support his desires. There's also the neat little scene where Hikaru goes back to the go club and seems to be much stronger, and everyone there is super nice.

As I was reading this episode, there were a few times where I stopped and announced that xyz scene was my favorite part evarrrrr. The first one of these was where Hikaru and Sai have just finished playing a game on his new board, and Hikaru resigns. "You never show me any mercy," he says, "...but it also irritates me when you try to be nice..." It's a refrain that I'm sure Chew heard multiple times while trying to teach me go, which cracked me up. Also, Hikaru's rolling on the floor in melodramatic agony was adorable. Also, Sai's confusion over the "fake fish" was hilarious. Then at one point, Sai hugs Hikaru, and I spent, like, ten minutes wondering how that would work and whether or not it would be super cold, like I rather imagine it being.

Anyway, that's about all. This was my favorite episode. While I was typing this up Chew beat a 1 dan with a few stone handicaps. Every once in a while over my blogging music I'd hear things like: COME AT ME BRO or THOSE ARE SOME NICE LIBERTIES--IT WOULD BE A SHAME IF ANYTHING HAPPENED TO THEM. I think once I even heard a HAHAHA WHO IS ATTACKING NOW CHUMP. So for all of you who wonder what Chew is like on the other side of the computer screen, there you are, an insight into his mind.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Go Tournament!

So, I'm pretty much the worst blogger ever, at least with regards to updates. I got a new job (iPhone game tester!), and so while my will to live is no longer constantly sapped, I'm now getting used to having weekends (!!!) and regular hours (!!!!!!!!), neither of which I've ever had before.

To make up for the long delay between posts, I'm going to try something different today. Chew is, as we speak, engaged in a Very Important Game of Go (aren't they all?). We're at a Go Tournament in Austin, TX, and it's the first game of the morning. Throughout the day, I'm going to try to make little mini-updates on how the tournament is going, how Chew's doing, maybe even how the other players are feeling, depending on how shy I'm feeling.

Right at the present, Chew is playing a gentleman in what seems, by their gestures, to be a fairly intense game. I know that Chew tends to get more jerky with his movements as the game becomes closer, or he gets more shaken up by what's going on. Even from here, I can tell he's starting to lose a bit of focus. His opponent seems very friendly, though, so hopefully that will put Chew back at ease.

As for the other tournament go-ers (see what I did there?) it's interesting to see the type of people the game attracts and what sort of quirks they seem to have. I can see one gentleman from where I'm sitting who taps his lip between moves, and another who resolutely sits with both hands in his lap, like he's trying to move the stones with mental prowess alone. With some of these people, I can almost believe that's possible.

Each game has a sort of timer, that, according to the organizer, has a time of 40 minutes. Chew explained that there are extra periods after that, just in case you run out of the initial time. I know a game tends to take him an hour-ish, so I'll be interested to see how that playes out among the rest of the crowd. He said he'll be playing four games, and to expect the tournament to not be done until 6 or so. That includes a short break for lunch (probably McDonald's) and likely chatting time afterwards, so it'll be interesting to see how that turns out.

Looks like Chew's opponent is less smiley now, more focused. Wonder if that means Chew settled into a rhythm.

I would say a good 9/10ths of the gentlemen here (and, with the exception of a fellow watcher, I believe they are all men) remind me of various college professors, usually the communication arts professors. Everyone is meticulously groomed, thoughtful looking, and projects an air of confidence in the game that reminds me a bit of the media conferences I used to attend, minus the undercurrent of debauchery since every stereotype about reporters ever is totally truefax.

The games have definitely begun in earnest now. Chew's opponent looks very thoughtful, lip tapping guy is moving quickly, with few wasted gestures now, and the air of the room is much more competitive. It's like the moment in a well-run D&D campaign when one of your party members drops below zero health and you realize hey, this just got real, time for daily powers.

Taking a break from the tournament action, I'm going to discuss for a moment the Shiny New Toy that Chew's got. Wednesday, he decided he wanted a little tablet computer to record Go games; Thursday during his lunch break, he found one he liked. The ASUS EEE Transformer is a cute little thing, and I'm sure Chew has already recorded a billion games on it, in addition to the Final Fantasy and Choose your own Adventure (AS A DRAGON!!!) games he's got. As I work for an iPhone dev company, I'm legally required to distain it, but secretly I think it's pretty cool. He asked his opponent if he could record the game, and so I believe what he's doing is playing a move, then clicking the corresponding point on the tablet. It's an interesting idea, though I wonder if he'll be distracted by it.

So, now that the games are a bit more intense, I see that Chew has moved from Jerky Movements to stretching and putting his hands behind his head. That, from him, usually means the game has reached a crisis point, one way or another. Unfortunately, I didn't hear how many handicap stones were involved in this game, so we'll see how it goes. It seems like most of the games have changed in some undefinable way, as people are slumping in their seats or resting chins on fists. Perhaps face to face, games go by more quickly than online.

Regardless, this post is getting far too long, so I'll cut it here. More updates as the day wears on, probably in the form of much shorter posts. At points throughout the day, I'm going to wander around Austin and not necessarily be here, so I won't see all the action, but I'll check in fairly frequently.

EDIT/UPDATE: Oh Chew, you are the slowest Go player. I want to pat your head and feed you chocolate milks.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hikaru no Go: Episode Four!

Finally, guys! I read Episode Four, like, a million years ago, but then I also got a promotion at work. It's nice, but at the same time, good lord guys, you do not need to text me on my days off to ask me about the color of a certain make of Oakley frames, mmkay? I've never been one to turn off my phone if I can help it, because what if someone needs to call me? I am, however, getting close to needing to do so, for the simple reason that it's really annoying to hear about customer satisfaction issues when I'm dealing with dinner.

Anyway, I can complain about work and talk about latest obsessions in a Post To Follow. This post is dedicated to Hikaru 4: Return of Akira.

Though the first part of the manga was dedicated to the tournament, I found the internet Go playing decidedly more interesting, though the tournament really revealed specific character traits that had heretofore either been in the background, or hadn't quite caught my attention. For instance, Yuki is the more psychological player, and as such, is susceptible to manipulation by others. How he reacted when his opponent in the second round gave him advice showed him to be, if not necessarily aggressive, easily aggravated. I suppose giving advice mid-match could be a cultural/game taboo that I'm not aware of (would ask Chew but he's StarCrafting or whatevs), though I know it's pretty much the point of a teaching game. Regardless, Yuki seems to be stubborn as well as a cheater and a bit of a proponent of emotional manipulation during the game, which makes it all the more surprising when he takes on the roll of teacher later in the book.

Kimi over there is the delicate one of the bunch, and would, I think, be a stronger player if he would learn to keep his emotions under control, though the same could be said of Yuki ("BLAHBLAHBLAH I AM WORTHY OF FIRST POSITION BLAHBLAHBLAH ANGRYFACE" He was trying to get you worked up, yes, and he succeeded but good). At least he seems more type A and interested in organizing the club, which is really what the club needs. He likes Go probably for the same reason a part of me likes it: it's organized and, if not predicable, logical. Sometimes. Maybe. So it seems like it would be right up his alley, but sometimes Go isn't going to be logical, and sometimes, regardless of how well he can alphabetize, he's going to lose.

Hikaru is such a typical kid, I don't even. He recognizes that Akira really wants to play Sai, and that's a step forward, but he can't quite get to the point where he'll put himself aside and allow Sai to play. I suppose that's compounded by the fact that he can't really just be: "Oh man, Akira, sorry about that, you were really playing the GHOST INSIDE MY HEAD the whole time..." So to anyone watching the situation, Hikaru just looks like a really uneven player. I did like that Sai is recognizing that Hikaru is getting to be quite the player. He's forming ideas, but can't quite get the critical jump between ideas and follow through. Seems like he's growing up awfully fast, but I guess either Go or having a ghost in you does that.

Now, on to the Internet. Since Chew does most of his Go playing on the Internet anymore (with the exception of Go club, which is admittedly pretty awesome), I laughed through most of this part. I admit, I'd have fantasies of Chew going to the amateur Go cup or its real life equivalent, if for no other reason than to watch, because it would make him super excited and he might squeal a little (manfully, of course). Regardless, seeing his Wednesday night novelized was cute. Sai, it seems, has become InternetFamous (TM), a coveted status indeed. The stressed out reaction of the Go Cup players was typically melodramatic, but for the format, it was clever and served to highlight just how damn good Sai is. That being said, Sai's expertise makes me wonder if Go is One of Those Games that's deteriorated in terms of quality over time. It doesn't seem like it does, particularly for a game that's seen so many centuries, but at the same time, everyone that Sai comes up against emphasizes how he's so much better than xyz other awesome Go players. Perhaps it's just his antiquated style of play, and I can imagine that would throw people off. Regardless, the image of a large, floaty, old-style Japanese dressed gentleman directing Hikaru to press keys for the Go stones makes me smile, and it was a cute touch as well as a stroke of genius on Hikaru's part.

So that's about it for the fourth edition of the Hikaru reviews. I'm sorry about how slow these are being, what with National Novel Writing Month (which I succeeded at) and the aforementioned promotion, it's been crazy. I did, however, get a comment on the last post I made that made me think. Chew's told me about a poll on the Go forums revealing that a majority of the forumites were in some sort of computer-related field. I wonder what astrological sign the majority of Go players are? I know that's a silly-ish question, but it's one that I'm now SUPER curious about that.

The End!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A. Wake. (Also Hikaru 3)

Alright, so! I read the third book, started on the fourth. But I need to finish writing up the third before I can really get into the fourth, so tonight I'll be doing the review thing. It's been a crazy sort of week, what with work hours and yesterday I stayed up a solid 24 hours because seriously, guys, doughnuts.

Anyway, H to the 3. I really am enjoying the series by this point. I will say that there are parts where I have to mock a bit (lovingly!) but so far I enjoy it about as much, maybe more, than any other popcorn read. It's much better than Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, which I enjoyed VERY much despite the ridiculous premise.

In this specific review, I want to talk about the concepts of resigning, cheating, and the maturating of Hikaru. The first two are pretty intimately tied to how I see Go, and why I enjoy reading about it, but not necessarily playing. The latter, however, is more tied into the book, so I'm going to start with that.

Hikaru is already far different than how he was portrayed in the initial installments. He's more intense about Go, more willing to play by himself without Sai's intervention. To me, that shows a more mature view of the game and consequently, life. He's growing up. Witness his reactions with the cheating cheater who cheats. Hikaru isn't exactly scandalized by the cheating, but is concerned about the reputation of his Go club, and even more, worried about Yuki, particularly when the owner of the Go salon that Yuki cheats at gets the Left Handed Man to "teach him a lesson." Hikaru is incensed that it would happen, and annoyed that Yuki would be treated like that. Sai is equally offended, though for purely different reasons. Between the two of them, they are ANGRY, and, at least for Hiaru, being angry because of principles and not because of some external stimuli, is kind of a big deal. Watching Hikaru cognitively develop is cute, and watching his interactions with Sai can just be adorable at times. He's a bit less playful than Calvin, but he's still pretty squee-worthy without being overly written. And he still thinks girls are icky.

Now for resignation and cheating. A lot of the former goes on in Hikaru, but very little of the latter. Interestingly, though resigning is part of the culture of Go and something that, as far as Chew has told me, is "okay" to do, Hikaru puts a lot of emphasis on it with regards to preteen boys teasing each other about it, which I find hilarious. It's so realistic. I don't care how right and okay it is, kids WILL find a way to tease each other about it. Just like having a different color hair or braces or anything else, kids are kind of little monsters to each other.

On a personal level, I don't like resigning--the concept or the actuality of it. I'm much too stubborn to ever ever do something like that. It is not okay to give up ever, because what if a tornado happens, or your opponent, like, dies in the middle of a game from malaria or something. Then you win, right? And yes, I recognize the improbability of the previous statements, but blahblahblah I'm super stubborn. So, that means that when Chew and I did play a few games, I wouldn't resign because that's Not An Okay Thing, and would usually be a little mournful about having to take handicaps. Not only did that make the game very frustrating for a beginner, but also made the game frustrating for Chew, who was trying to teach me in what really is the best way--from experience. For those of you who know anything about astrology, that's what happens when two Scorpios compete; for those of you who think astrology a load of bull, simply consider that both of us strive for 100% completion for ANY video game we play, and that'll give you an idea.

So, when I see the kiddos making little anime sadfaces over resigning a game, I sympathize. Resigning sucks, even those it does serve a valuable purpose in the game--namely, allowing a honorable and fair way for the loser to take his ball and go home while allowing him to save face and preventing chairs and boards being thrown.

As for Yuki's cheating habit, it made me laugh. As my nephew says, it isn't cheating if it helps you win, and I think Yuki lives by that. While I can flippantly say that cheating is simply going out of socially conditioned rules and if going outside of those rules helps, welp, that might be okay, I can see that such a rationalization wouldn't fly in Go.

Go, in particular, is a VERY ritualistic game, with a certain set of behaviors that are simply not acceptable. Because Go is such a ritualized, formal game, it seems somehow worse to cheat while playing that than, say, Candyland. I have to wonder where Yuki picked up his habits--he must have been cheating a while, if for no other reason than the fact that he's so damn good at it. Personally, I hope for a little more development there.

I'm sorry if this blog isn't quite as well structured as some of my previous posts have been. Chew just got Allen Wake, and I'm sitting here watching the progress. Oh my god, it's a good game. It's the type of game I would love if it weren't for the fact that I've mostly been spoiled on it already from Chew's playings. That being said, each new plot twist brings with it fresh horrors, and the idea of a writer trying to solve a mystery of his own devisings is one that particularly appeals to me. I'd highly recommend it. I'd also highly recommend NOT playing it while alone, because that's just a bad choice. It isn't hard horror, but it IS the sort of game that's going to make you jump a few times, particularly with the noises. Ah god, the noises.

Right now, Chew and I are debating about whether or not the title/main character's name has to do with awake, as in the state of not being asleep, or a wake, as in part of a funeral. Both can be possible, but with the theme of nightmares versus reality, I'd say it's more likely to be the former. Chew immediately thought of the latter, then went on to compare the game to the movie Inception, which I think is a fantastic comparison. Thoughts and opinions?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hikaru no Go: Episode 2

Just finished the second book in the series. I will say, I enjoyed this episode quite a bit more than the first one. I’ve adjusted to the drama, I think, so it’s really not such a big deal to see everyone froth over Go. It remains a fascinating study in contrasts, however, as Chew is more likely to concentrate quietly, without a single, delicate sweat drop forming on his brow, or suddenly having his eyes grow in size. Regardless, the drama isn’t quite as noticeable as it was in the first episode.

I’m glad Akira is developing as a character. Seems like he got over the snit about Hikaru beating him (snit has negative connotations, and I think Akira had a fairly good reason for being morose, but it’s the best word I can think of) and is now attempting, in the best way he knows how, to be normal-ish. But if he’s been “Go-ing” for years, since he was little, even, I wonder how “normal” he can be. Go, from what I’ve seen, is a very logic-driven game, and childhood behavior completely lacks logic; forcing the former into the latter seems like it would force Akira to grow up very fast. So, while the trio at the end of the episode seem intent on his destruction for wholly sophomoric reasons, Akira probably expects them to recognize his talent and aspire to be better. But they can’t do that, because they are just in middle school and frankly, middle schoolers tend to be idiots. So, I hope nothing horrible happens to him, and perhaps he and Akira can end up being friends and suchlike. Also, he has fantastic hair; wish my hair was that awesome.

Tetsuo is a fascinating counterpoint to Akira, and I wish he was in the rest of the series more. He was a Go kid as well, pushed much more into the game by his father, and grew up resentful and hating Go and playing Shogi instead. Which makes sense to me, as I tend to be more spiteful about that sort of thing (What?! You want me to do BALLET!? NO I REFUSE GET ME INTO TAE KWON DO ASAP), and thus sympathize with the character much more. Even if, at first, he seemed to be a bit of a dick. I did get a laugh when he ripped up that book, though. I guess his behavior at the Go board is probably less than proper, what with his stabbing people at fans and suchlike, but it sure does make me giggle.

Hikaru is becoming more interesting as well, though he remains the only character in the book who acts genuinely his age and seems to have no major childhood trama, though I suppose being possessed by Sai counts. His treatment of Akari is less than stellar, but pretty typical for a boy his age. He wants to play Go on his own, without Sai interfering, which I can understand but seems like a monumentally bad idea. Turns out it is, but Sai is pretty sweet about it, and the two forge a partnership of sorts. That’ll probably be the standard for the rest of the series, with Sai and Hikaru working together and Hikaru slowly becoming better and better. I’m sure Sai’s rival possesses one of the opposing characters, and the series will end with a super dramatic face off between the two. Then Sai will go away forever (to heaven, or something equivalent?) and Hikaru and Akira will live happily ever after.

Regardless, Sai was pretty cute in this book. My favorite part was when he told Hikaru off for his thought that Go wasn’t a girl’s game. In fact, Sai treats Akari better than anyone in the series, with the exception of perhaps Tsutsui. What with the Calvin and Hobbs parallels I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as Hobbs was known to have tea parties with Susie where there was some serious Calvin gossip, but the strength of Sai’s response was awesome.

The treatment of the female characters in the series, so far, is interesting. Akari’s attempt at Go made me laugh. Of course if someone was about to capture your piece you’d get it out of danger by taking it away! It’s logical. It makes sense. And for someone who didn’t know ANY of the rules, well. I thought it was clever. Hikaru especially has no room to judge her, what with his: “derpderp I have a ghost inside my head” complex. So far, though, we’ve only seen females as secondary characters at best, either needing instruction from males (all the girls gaggling around Akira) or failing at Go (Akari). Sai, the oldold ghost, is the only one to break that mold, as he educates Hikaru on all the famous female Go players. Makes me like Sai more and more; he’s swiftly becoming my favorite character.

As an aside, I realize as I read this that I’m heavily Westernizing it. I know next to nothing about Japanese culture, so when I read specific elements of the story (read meaning to critically consider, here), I’m sure I’m interpreting them through a Westernized ideological perspective. For example, the clubs after school and the freedoms the children are given are, to me, an example of particularly adult children or neglectful parents. Some research, however, shows me that this isn’t an uncommon situation in Japan—I was reading it wrong.

So, I look forward to continuing to read the book, and watching the characters develop. In particular, I’m watching Sai—I really enjoy the little conversations he has with Hikaru about the world around them, just the little touches to remind you that yes, Sai is from a totally different time period. A time period where they had neither umbrellas nor astronauts.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hikaru no Go: Volume One

Well, I just finished the first book of Hikaru no Go. First and foremost, I want to admit to the fact that I've never really read manga before. The one series I read was called Tarot Cafe' and was read front to back, like a book. It seemed to have relatively few Japanese influences besides the vaguely anime-esque art, so I'm not sure it actually counts. Additionally, it was about a clairvoyant cafe' owner whose friends consisted of vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, living dolls, etc, so it tended towards the dramatic because of the subject.

Hikaru no Go does not seem to be like that. EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, is super dramatic, regardless of subject. When Hikaru says something even slightly less than complimentary about Go, Sai sobs into his vaguely kimono-y, puffy sleeves. And occasionally makes Hikaru vomit. Akira has a Heroic (?) Blue Screen of Death about being defeated at Go, and people dedicate their lives and futures and make horrible sacrifices to play Go. People's fingertips glow. Repeatedly.

I understand this is a convention of sports manga, and I also understand that there are people for whom Go is Serious Business. It's just surprising to read such a dramatic account of something that, at least to me, is fairly mundane.

After I got over the drama, however, my general opinion of the book is approval. Hikaru behaves like a kid possessed by a long-dead Go player would, I suppose. He's snarky and thinks cooties are a big deal and considers, first and foremost, the financial gain that being a pro Go player would offer, which made me snicker. Frankly, he reminded me a bit of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, with Sai as a more despondent, less furry counterpart to Hikaru's hijinks. I totally hope the girl who offered him the tickets (Akari?) gets set up to be a Susie, and they end up playing a rules-less, full tackle version of Go played outside and won whenever people are too exhausted to continue.

Akira is an interesting character as well, as is his father. I'm not sure whether his father is a good parent attempting to encourage his son in something his son is obviously good at and wants to continue with, or a parent who's trying to live vicariously through his offspring and mold said offspring into a little version of himself. I guess only time well tell on that one, though I'm putting my money on the former, because the series, thus far, is too interesting to do something so cliche and overused. I feel mostly sorry for Akira, as he doesn't seem to do much else but Go, obsessing over Go, thinking about Go, and solving Go problems. I bet his "About Me" section in facebook would be superboring, and he status updates would all be Go board coordinates. Hopefully he develops over the next few books, though the teaser for the second volume does seem to imply the series is moving in that direction.

As for whether the manga taught me anything about Go, well, that remains to be seen. So far, I think I've learned more from watching BoyFriend play, but I'm sure the Go will ramp up as the books continue. I'm also really enjoying the series so far, more than I expected to, so I'm sure no shortage of reviews will show up here. Hopefully they end up being less scatter-brained than this one.