Blitz, the Chess Manga from Monaco - A Review

by Tatiana Flores
3/15/2023 – The internationally successful Japanese chess manga "Blitz" stems from the imagination of Cédric Biscay, was inked by mangaka Daitaro Nishihara and put into the grids by co-scenarist Tsukasa Mori. "Blitz" impresses with its accurate and detailed artwork and with its precise depiction of the chess game. A review by Tatiana Flores. | Photo: IWA/Shibuya Productions

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Tom Hazuki, a young student at the International School of Shibuya (ISS) in Japan, who tends to get into trouble, decides one day to learn the rules of chess in order to impress his crush, Harmony, a junior chess champion and the talent of her school's chess club.

When Tom wants to join the club, its proud president, Laurent (who can't stand Tom), gives him an almost impossible challenge. If Tom can win a game against him, he can join the club, but if he loses, he'll never bother any of the club members again.

Tom is given a maximum of two months to complete the task, but the pugnacious youngster bravely takes up the challenge, perhaps underestimating the difficulties of a game he knows nothing about. Tom is lucky, however, when his adult friend Jean-Marc (a French pastry chef and restaurant owner) offers to teach him the basics, as he used to be a passionate player back in France.

Soon overwhelmed by the whole world of chess rules, variants, manoeuvres and beautiful tactics, Tom falls deeply in love with the game and develops an astonishing will to progress. But despite all his efforts, he loses to Laurent in front of the whole school and runs home in shame, still carrying Harmony's lucky charm, which he, however, eventually loses in a street fight.

All seven members of the International Shibuya School become fierce and ambitious chess players. Their fighting spirit plays a fundamental role in the development of the plot. | Photo: IWA/Shibuya Productions

To apologise to his loved one, he decides to pay a visit to an antique shop in the hope of finding a suitable gift for Harmony, but instead of leaving the shop with a charming old chess set, he borrows a pair of VR (virtual reality) glasses from the old and mysterious shop owner.

These glasses are called 'Caissa' and are said to teach you all the wisdom in the world.
Alone at home, with a fierce storm raging outdoors, the young protagonist gives the glasses a try and what first seems to be a discovery of for him never before imagined knowledge soon turns into an accident as a lighting passes through Tom’s windows and strikes him while wearing Caissa.

This leaves Tom unconscious for several days. When he wakes up in hospital, to his mother's relief, the boy looks healthy, but slowly he realises that something doesn't feel quite like it used to. To pass the time until he can go home, he starts playing his first online games and soon discovers an increased knowledge of chess, similar to that of the great Garry Kasparov.

It is Harmony herself who persuades her other team-mates to allow Tom to join the club, after witnessing his huge improvements during a visit to Tom's home. Soon Tom, Harmony, Laurent and the other club members Yhang, Saori, Marius and Anne are competing against the other school chess clubs from Japan to secure their place in the prestigious international chess tournament held in Monaco and organised by the one and only Garry Kasparov. This series of tournaments is part of Kasparov's new project - "Project T" - and aims to promote chess around the world, especially in regions like Japan where it is not a popular sport.

Chess takes on an overriding role in the lives of Tom and his friend as they move closer and closer to becoming Project T champions. Photo: IWA/Shibuya Productions

From there, the seven friends face not only a variety of opponents with different personalities and strengths, but also their own fears and insecurities. To achieve their chess dreams, the youngsters must learn to work together as a team to overcome them. As well as jumping from chess adventure to chess adventure, the children get to explore the world, deepen their understanding of friendship and people, and meet great personalities such as the famous Japanese monk Sôshô Yamada, international chess masters and trainers, the legend Garry Kasparrov, Princess Charlène and Prince Albert of Monaco in historic locations!

Blitz impresses in many ways, starting with the strong similarities and parallels between the game of chess and the plot of the story. The manga is a good read for everyone, regardless of their level of chess knowledge, because the information needed to understand what's going on on the boards is discreetly woven into the plot of the story, so that even experienced chess players won't be bothered.

In addition, we find an exciting story, complex characters undergoing profound changes, a friendly and respectful atmosphere, free of violence, despite all the action that takes place on the boards, when the players turn into warriors and fight their battles on different battlefields.

There are even a few bonus pages where the reader can learn interesting facts about the places and buildings featured. As the icing on the cake, each volume also contains a chess glossary, a brief summary of the previous events, and some game analyses by a chess master of the protagonists' overboard encounters. It is worth mentioning that girls and boys are portrayed equally in this manga. This proves that works free of sexism and harmful stereotypes are better than the opposite, because they really make everyone feel welcome and included in the exciting world of chess (as should be the norm).

French chess champions Sophie Milliet and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave are big fans of this action-packed chess manga. Here we see them talking about Blitz at the Expo 2020 in Dubai during the 2020 World Chess Championship. Photo: IWA/Shibuya Productions

Finally, it might be interesting to know that after the publication of an interview I had with Cédric Biscay, the creator of "Blitz", a bunch of youngsters from my chess club in Spain contacted me and asked where they could buy this "cool" chess manga that they had never heard of.

This confirmed to me what I immediately felt when reading the nine volumes published so far: Young generations need to be addressed with media that are part of their everyday lives, together with the spirit and pop culture of their time. I'm glad that Cédric and his team have produced this manga, because I think it has the potential to make chess popular with many children (and adults too), regardless of whether they are actively involved in the game or not, and in my opinion this can only benefit chess.


Interview with Cédric Biscay, creator of the manga series "Blitz"

Tatiana Flores was born in Andorra in 1998 and moved to Germany with her family when she was 14. She works as a chess journalist, poet and multilingual author. Besides chess, she is also passionate about literature and music. See also her website under