It's the final volume, and time for the final Hokuto Cup matches.
Akira wins, Yashiro loses, and Hikaru loses (by 1/2 point, ugh). Hikaru finally finishes saying what he was going to say earlier, about why he started playing Go: "I started playing Go so I could link the distant past to the far future!" Yong Ha responds that he isn't alone in that, and another player comments that this isn't just what drives Go, but also life.
The volume ends with seven bonus sketches of prominent characters in the series, a short flashback manga called "Fujiwara no Sai vs. Akira Toya" (Sai and Akira's second game? Akira bites back and surprises Sai, even though Sai wins in the end), and a short manga that takes place after the end of the series, "Shoji! Oka!" (Young Lions, two insei characters play matches against Hikaru and Akira and are inspired).
The artwork is beautiful, but I really, really missed Sai. I think Hotta must have too, or Sai wouldn't have kept appearing in dreams, flashback manga, etc.
While this certainly wrapped up the series and gave it a proper ending, I still can't help but feel a bit disappointed. I wanted
Hikaru's desire to face off against Ko Yong Ha to actually result in something. I know his loss wasn't the end of the world, or even necessarily his last time facing off against Ko Yong Ha - the series, particularly the final extra chapter, did a good job of showing that the life of a Go pro goes on and there are always more matches to play. But man, I'm disappointed.
I both liked and felt sad about Akira's dad's theory that, if Shusaku came back in the form of Sai, then he came back to face him. And this is certainly the closest any characters have come to guessing, on-page, what really happened to catapult Hikaru into the world of Go.
Well, that's that, I'm finally done with this series. Now I kind of want to rewatch the anime...
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)