Title: Assassin's Creed: Blade of Shao Jun Vol. 1
Author: Minoji Kurata
Release Date: February 16, 2021
Publisher: VIZ Media
The Assassin’s Creed series of video games has been a significant staple in many gamer’s lives since it began in 2007. The series has seen its share of licensed media that expand on its various stories, but I can honestly say that the Ezio Trilogy was where the series might have peaked for me. Well, it just so happens that the Brotherhood is being revived with the release of Assassin’s Creed: Blade of Shao Jun Vol. 1, a manga that expands on 16th-century Chinese assassin Shao Jun.
Assassin’s Creed: Blade of Shao Jun Vol. 1 begins by introducing us to Shao Jun’s story of revenge. Those who have played Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China will understand her nightmares and why she’s returned to China two years after a terrible event that almost eradicated the Brotherhood. After spending time in Italy with Ezio, she is given a box without any clues as to what it does. This box is sought after by the templars, who also don’t understand its contents.
There are a few significant twists in this story, so I’d honestly hate to ruin all of the story beats. In 2019, we meet one of Shao Jun’s descendants Lisa Yang, who is slyly being manipulated by the templars to find the whereabouts of an unspecified object. The way this all plays out is exciting, which makes the story incredibly difficult to put down. You want to see how far the templars will get what they want, but you also want to see how far Shao Jun will go for revenge. It’s a double edge sword in that regard because they both seem to steadily progress at the same pace, which spells bad news for Lisa.
The pacing of Assassin’s Creed: Blade of Shao Jun Vol. 1 is incredible. I’m not sure how they do it, but they constantly jump forward and backward through time, but nothing comes off as jarring. There are even multiple scenes taking place on the same page, and it just looks so cool in execution. The battles are bloody and fast-paced, causing your eyes to quickly want to start at the beginning of the page to re-experience the brutality of it all.
Shao Jun is impressive. She’s so bright and almost charming in some scenes as you see her smile or speak with her peers. However, she becomes an absolute demon when she puts the hood on, and it’s a complete 180. It’s so believable, though, since you understand where her pain comes from. Interesting, the manga also dives into her younger years to give you an understanding of the world that she’s from.
Assassin’s Creed: Blade of Shao Jun Vol. 1 is such a fantasy telling of Shao Jun’s story. Even if you’ve played the games, seeing the world through the eyes of Lisa Yang and facing off against the Tigers once again is such a good opening to this manga. I think I’m just glad that it was handled so well. Even if you aren’t a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series, the story does an amazing job explaining where these characters come from to catch you up.
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