By Yano Takashi and Oiwa Kenji
With the explosive opening issue, as well as Masato’s back story in the second finally behind the series, Assassin’s Creed Awakening issue 3 finally dives into the mythology of the universe. As such, much of this issue is exposition. The other segment of the issue is an action scene. The action scene itself serves as Edward’s initiation into the association. Assassin’s Creed Awakening suffers from strange pacing.
Not much is accomplished in each issue which this itself would not be a problem if the manga laid out its concepts better. It has taken until roughly a quarter of the way through the series to fully explain its universe. In the first issue, zero context is available for what transpires. It still is unclear how Masato plays into all this. In issue two it is explained that this is all a video game, but that explanation is thrown into question with the strange glances the scientists exchange. Assassin’s Creed Awakening does not really excel all that well at promoting its video game basis.
In the manga’s defense, the Assassin’s Creed game I own could be equally cryptic, and at times, frustrating. The artwork is the biggest reason to be reading Awakening. The sketchy, unpolished style makes for compelling material. Assassin’s Creed Awakening may still be missing key details 3 issues in, but at least the manga looks nice at the absolute minimum. Action scenes have dynamic paneling, with a variety of shapes and sizes for different panels which enable smooth and savvy transitions throughout each page.
Masato’s motivation for participating in this experiment is clear at least. Masato wishes to learn more about the world his deceased mother was involved with. Masato’s mother is, presumably the person who designed the technology allowing Masato to relive moments in his universe’s history. As this is an adaptation of a video game, the biggest flaw are the holes in Assassin’s Creed Awakening’s own internal logic. The lack of details discernible through reading a guidebook is fine for a video game, but in manga the general preference is to have most, if not all the details provided at the beginning of the comic without research or further lore investigation.
For anyone who is not familiar with the property, Assassin’s Creed Awakening makes for a difficult entry point. there is little easing anyone new to the franchise into the manga. Readers, who are perhaps impatient with the cryptic opening issues, are not likely to be impressed by walls of exposition. The way the exposition itself was presented was also lazy: there is no reason to delay the reveal, apart from creating unnecessary tension. The Assassin’s Creed mythology could be interesting if presented better, but this all strikes me as carelessness on the manga’s creators’ part.
Assassin’s Creed Awakening #3 is more effort to follow than a mindless action series needs to be. With more effort put into the end product’s writing this could be a potentially great series. Sadly, the likelihood of this being the case is rather slim at this point.