Assassin's Creed: Blade of Shao Jun - Manga Comic Review & Summary
"Chapter 6: The Bleeding Effect"
Sorrosyss & Markuz, May 13th, 2020
Note: Non Spoiler Review, but a full Spoiler Summary and Analysis follows

Assassin's Creed: China is a Manga comic produced by Minoji Kurata, currently being released in Japan on a monthly basis for Sunday GX Comics. If you happened to miss our review of the fifth issue, do please check it out here.

The sixth issue is titled “The Bleeding Effect”, and focuses exclusively on Lisa Yang this time around. In a surprising and welcome change, the Modern Day narrative encompasses the entire 38 pages that make up this particular issue. It even gives us some references to other key Modern Day moments of the Assassin's Creed franchise, which certainly adds some interesting revisionist thoughts to those past events. Read on for more on that though!

Assassin's Creed: China - Chapters 1 to 6 are available online now. Naturally this is currently only available in Japanese, though a French version is expected to release on June 11th, with an English version at some currently undefined point.

Preface: Kindly note that the following story summary has been produced with a heavy reliance on translation software. We cannot guarantee 100% accuracy of the details, but we hope this is as close as possible.


SPOILER TAG - Click to unhide
Yokohama, Japan, 2020

The cousins Lisa and Mari, enjoy some drinks of refreshment at a cafe. Mari mentions that she had stopped by Lisa's house to find her, but she was not there and it was therefore lucky that they had crossed paths instead. Mari asks about how the treatments are going, and for some details on what exactly they are. Lisa describes the incredible experience of being within the Animus, but Mari is not convinced she even needs treatments to change herself, as the Lisa she has always known was still the kind person that was always there for her in the past.

A Japanese gentleman has clearly been overhearing their conversation, as Kiyoshi Takakura steps up to their table. He states that there is no substance to the Animus treatments at all, and promises to explain more if Lisa will meet him privately at a shop at 5pm the next day. He drops a small card with the address onto the table, and before he leaves, he whispers to Lisa that he is an Assassin like her, and that the war with the Templars still rages on.

Lisa and Mari are taken aback by the bold interruption to their conversation, with Mari concerned that Kiyoshi clearly looks like a Yakuza hitman and that going to meet with him would be extremely dangerous. Lisa gives it some thought, and whilst she is curious what Kiyoshi meant about her treatment, she is far more interested to learn what he knows of the Assassins and Templars. Mari declares that she will go along with her then, and that if it is dangerous she will drag Lisa out of there herself.

The next day, the two cousins arrive at the location as was requested. Mari states that she has brought along some crime prevention tools just as a precaution in case they need them. Upon entering the building, they are greeted by a female attendant who takes them to a private room, where Kiyoshi waits inside. He ushers the cousins in, and requests they sit at his table.

Kiyoshi does not delay, and immediately informs Lisa that her Doctor, Kaori Kagami, is a member of the Templar Order. Lisa replies that the Assassins and Templars are ancient orders, but Kiyoshi reiterates that they both still exist, and are still very real. He continues to explain that Doctor Kagami is using Lisa to obtain information about a treasure, and truly does not care for her wellbeing. The proof he says, is in the way Kagami insists on such lengthy Animus sessions. Kiyoshi advises that prolonged use of an Animus can lead to visual and auditory hallucinations, known as The Bleeding Effect. Over time, the condition can get worse to the point that the user may no longer be able to tell their ancestor's life apart from their own, losing all sense of time and self. It is especially dangerous for younger users.

He continues to explain that if she resumes the treatment for the long term, she may end up completely brain dead, at which point the Templars would no longer be able to help her - nor herself. Whilst the Assassins are not strictly interested in the treasure, they simply do not want it to fall into the wrong hands amongst the Templars. He in turn requests that Lisa help the Brotherhood, by sticking to finding the treasure as soon as possible for her own safety. He fears that whatever the treasure is, it may give the Templars control over all humanity, but concedes that it might already be too late for that anyway.

Lisa stands up and declares that she does not know what this supposed treasure is, and furthermore that she prefers to trust a recognised Doctor to know what is in her best interests. She therefore intends to continue the treatments, as there is a still a chance for her to change her violent tendencies. She also wants to see what becomes of Shao Jun, and how her story concludes. Kiyoshi pleads for her to listen to his warnings, but Lisa says that he cannot stop her unless he kills her, and she walks out the room slamming the door behind her.

Mari asks Kiyoshi what they should do now. He explains that the Bleeding Effect could get a lot worse, and may lead to Lisa ultimately losing control and hurting those close to them. He remembers to himself the case of Layla Hassan lashing out at Victoria Bibeau and killing her with a Staff of Eden, as well as Desmond Miles ending the life of Lucy Stillman with his Hidden Blade. Kiyoshi recommends that Mari stay out of the whole affair for her own safety, but she is insistent on wanting to help Lisa. She recounts of how her father used to beat and abuse her as a child, and that the only person that stood up to her father in her defence had been Lisa. In that regard, she simply wants to be here for Lisa in kind in her time of need. Right in that moment an elderly woman on a wheelchair enters the room and both Kiyoshi and Mari turn towards her. She warns Mari that there is no turning back after she becomes involved, but Mari is insistent on helping.

Back out on the streets of Yokohama, Lisa is lost in thought. On the one hand, she is glad she left the conversation to keep herself safe. On the other hand, she wonders if it was wise to leave the possible truth back there. As she turns around to head back for Mari, she immediately spots a traditional Chinese guard coming towards her on the street, amongst the crowd of civilians. Remembering she is not in the Animus, she freezes in place, and the muscle memory of Shao Jun courses through her body as she adopts a combat stance.

Memories of Jun flash through her mind, and she collapses onto the pavement in realisation that none of it is real, and no-one else can see the guard. She finally concedes to herself that this must be the Bleeding Effect, as it now dawns on her that she may already be losing her mind.

Analysis and Final Thoughts

This was a very strong issue for many reasons, the most prevalent being the Modern Day focus. We had a great deal of backstory and character development to Lisa Yang, which was desperately needed, and even expanded on her relationship with Mari which in turn gave us new details surrounding her cousin's character too. Kiyoshi having a large role was most welcome as well, as he naturally has greater ties to the wider Assassin's Creed universe having appeared in other transmedia as well as in the games themselves. It is a good method for making the storytelling feel more immersed in the wider franchise narrative.

Another likely tie to the Assassin’s Creed universe is the appearance of the old lady on a wheelchair. Coupling that with the “Granny” reference by Kiyoshi in chapter 2, we have even more proof to believe that she is indeed Saeko Mochizuki, the modern Mentor of the Japanese Brotherhood of Assassins, whom was originally introduced in the Assassin's Creed Initiates project. Otherwise named as Osoroshii Baba (“the terrible old hag” or “the terrible granny”), Saeko would now be 85 by the events shown in the Manga. Considering how she’s still being teased but not directly shown, there’s a good chance some kind of relevance will be associated to her character in the issues to come.

Going back to the issue, we once more touched on the topic of the Bleeding Effect, and as we previously hypothesised, there is still the precedent of some Animus users having their ancestor's identity overwriting their own personality and memories, as was seen in the Bloodstone series. Could this happen to Lisa as well, or will she stop using the Animus before it gets that bad? Time will tell.

Finally, on that topic, it was interesting to note the references to both Layla Hassan and Desmond Miles with regards to the Bleeding Effect. The explanations behind Desmond killing Lucy Stillman in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood have changed several times in-lore throughout the years. First we were told it was through Juno directly controlling him, later retconned in Assassin’s Creed III to him seeing a potential future where Lucy showed her true allegiance and that he wanted to kill her all along. Now we have a further possible explanation that he was mentally confused by the Bleeding Effect as well. It is a curious possibility to add to the list, but it is safe to say that Desmond was clearly not of a clear mind in those moments, regardless of the ultimate cause to his actions.

As for Layla, it may be a slightly more believable case to pin the Bleeding Effect on her. As we saw in Odyssey, she was deeply affected by her interaction with the memories of Deimos (canonically Alexios), whose anger and cruelty clearly impacted onto her. Layla's actions, both the killing of Victoria and the crippling of Otso Berg, were highly out of character for her, which lead many fans to conclude that she might have even turned into a full villain now. However, as we do now know that we will be again playing as her in the newly announced Valhalla, Ubisoft putting the blame for her dark turn to the damaging effects of the Bleeding Effect actually makes a lot of sense, especially when coupled with the corrupting effects of the Staff of Eden that she possesses.
Let us hope she can find some redemption later this year.


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