Assassin's Creed: Blade of Shao Jun - Manga Comic Review & Summary
"Chapter 7: Shao Jun and Qijie
Sorrosyss & Markuz, July 9th, 2020
Note: Non Spoiler Review, but a full Spoiler Summary and Analysis follows

Assassin's Creed: Blade of Shao Jun (or, in its Japanese version, 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 and in France by Mana Books. If you happened to miss our review of the sixth issue, do please check it out here. From
this article onwards our reviews will refer to the manga with its Western name.

The seventh issue is titled “Shao Jun and Qijie”, and focuses on Lisa Yang's continued exploration of the life of Jun, and her childhood friendship with a future Empress. The Modern Day encompasses 17 of the 40 pages that make up this particular issue. The chapter once more provides links to other stories in the Modern Day of the Assassin's Creed franchise, as well as providing new historical moments that enrich Shao Jun's back story.

Assassin's Creed: Blade of Shao Jun is available online now. Chapters 1-4 are available both in French and in Japanese, while chapters 5-7 are currently only available in Japanese for the original version of the manga, “Assassin’s Creed: China”. Translations of the manga in the US/UK, China, Germany, Spain, Italy and South-East Asia areas are also slated for Fall 2020.

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 read
Yokohama, Japan, 2020

Haunted by her Bleeding Effect experience, Lisa Yang returns to Doctor Kagami to continue her treatments. Lisa explains how the hallucination has deeply affected her, and wants to know more about what it was. Kagami immediately brushes it off as a temporary condition of using the machine, and nothing to be concerned about, as the Animus simulation is not real at all. After being promised the effect will settle down, Lisa's curiosity to explore Shao Jun's life wins out, and she returns to the Animus session.

Rural China, 1529

A year has passed since the events of Macau. Within the crop fields of the countryside, Shao Jun is donned in worker clothes, and working
to process the yield. She is surprised to see Wang Yangming approach, who in turn is shocked to still find her in the same place a year after he originally left her there to recuperate from the trauma of the fires of Macau. They go inside a barn to continue their conversation in private. Jun expresses how the deaths of the year before still weigh heavy on her mind.

Wang tries to reason with her, and she is reminded of the words of Ezio Auditore, who told her that the Assassins do not just fight the Templars in order to get revenge, but instead to fight for freedom – people's freedom. She questions if her actions in Macau really reflected that goal. Wang takes it upon himself to remind her of the day that he originally freed Jun from the Imperial Palace when she
was younger, and that at the time she had sworn to return one day to release a friend. Given the actions of the current Emperor Jiajing – a Templar puppet – Wang surmises that Jun’s friend may very well still need her help more than ever. Jun replies that her friend, Qijie, is now in fact the Empress and that reaching her now would be very difficult as a result.

Yokohama, Japan, 2020

Whilst Lisa remains in the Animus, Kagami and an assistant monitor the simulation from monitors. When the name of Qijie is mentioned, Kagami recognises her to in fact be Empress Zhang. She also mentions that this was pretty much the point in the memories of Shao Jun that she had reached up to in her research with a previous descendant subject, before the Madrid Abstergo facility was taken over by the subjects in 2016. Again expressing her frustration over the events back then, she requests that her assistant records everything but ensures that there are no leaks of this information. He informs her that the simulation has seemingly shifted, as Shao Jun is now recalling her own memories from the year 1517.

Imperial Palace, Beijing, China, 1517

A 12 year old Shao Jun is outside the palace late at night, leading her friend Zhang Qijie along, who is protesting that they will get in trouble for being out in the middle of night. They come across a guard carrying a lantern, but Jun distracts him by throwing a rock into
a nearby bush, and the two girls sneak by undetected. Once safe, Qijie expresses her admiration at Jun's stealth skills, and questions what else that the Emperor Zhengde expects of her. Jun mentions that she has learned to run without making a noise, to climb pillars, and to act as a spy for the Emperor. She further explains that she is not considered to be a woman by the Emperor. She has not been asked to bind her chest and feet, as was the common practice for women to be desirable for the Emperor, indeed both practices of which Qijie had partaken in.

Qijie says that she always loves to hear about Jun's exciting stories, to which Jun replies that they should go on an adventure together. She mentions that she has found many ways in and out of the Imperial Palace, including one tunnel that has sharp edged gleaming walls that almost looks not of this world. With the promise of this amazing sight, the two girls journey to a small hole in a wall, that Jun insists leads down to the wonder. As Jun starts to climb, Qijie mentions that she simply cannot climb up towards the tunnel as Jun can, due to the painful feet bindings (caused by the practice known as Chán Zú) that she has to wear. She remarks sadly, that the binding
serves a double purpose beyond that of displaying beauty and status – as it also prevents her from ever escaping the palace.

They return to Qijie's quarters, with Jun upset over this revelation and apologising to Qijie. Qijie simply states that they are both different animals, one a butterfly and one a rabbit, and the both of them are unique and amazing in their own way. The two get into bed, with Qijie wanting to hear yet another adventure story, which Jun is more than eager to share. Eventually, Qijie falls asleep, and Jun slips away into the night. She swears to herself that she will return to protect her one true friend and that one day they will go through that tunnel together, but in truth she knows that she must leave to perform spy duties upon the invading Mongolians - on behalf of the Emperor.

Yokohama, Japan, 2020

Lisa awakens from the simulation, overcome with emotion and tears in her eyes. Kagami asks her what is wrong, but Lisa says she is relieved to find out that even the great Shao Jun had someone that she cared about, and wanted to protect. She realizes that it had been similar to the way that she looked after her own cousin Mari as well, even recalling a memory of being almost thrown off a balcony by Mari’s abusive father. Kagami is a little troubled by this, and recalls a previous conversation that she once had with her elder Abstergo superior. She was warned about the Bleeding Effect, that not only does it cause the user to experience hallucinations, but that also the ancestor’s physical capabilities and combat skills would tend to be imprinted upon them. Kagami now begins to wonder if Lisa is set to become an enemy of her own personal creation.

Analysis and Final Thoughts
This was a nicely balanced issue, offering a fair split between the historical and Modern Day portions. It is always nice to see echoes between the two narratives, and this was clearly evident here with the relationships shown for both Lisa and Jun. Once again, the oft suggested potential for Shao Jun’s abilities to bleed through Lisa Yang - or indeed for her memories to directly overwrite her - are teased to us. With the way that Lisa is heavily using the Animus you can imagine that it will simply be a matter of time before we see this play out in the comic.

Incidentally, speaking of Lisa, the recent release of the French version of the manga added more confusion to the romanized version of her name. In our original translations of her name we had two potential versions for her: Risa Kou, Lisa Yang (or any combination of the four). As mentioned in our review for chapter one of the manga, we asked Ubisoft in November 2019 confirmation for the character’s name, which brought us to Lisa Yang... until the release of volume 1 of the manga in French, where the character is called Lisa Huang. As usual, we will monitor the situation to see if her name is finally confirmed as such.

Back to the manga, the exploration of Jun's childhood with Qijie was interesting, as it touched on some Chinese cultural practices of the time, and was also actually new lore to the franchise.

As for the Chinese cultural practices, the manga does shine an interesting light on the practices of binding women’s chest and feet as a way to gain the Emperor’s favour, with some characters judging Jun for not abiding by such practices, while Qijie does, and eventually becomes Empress, but at the cost of crippling her feet and not being able to ever leave the Imperial Palace.

As for the lore part, the memory with young Jun and Qijie is defined by Kagami as “Shao Jun’s memory that I couldn’t go beyond”. It’s interesting to note that Kagami was able to reach it, but not go past it, with her previous subject during her time at the Abstergo facility in Madrid. That subject was obviously Lin, one of the modern day Assassins and descendant of Shao Jun from the Assassin’s Creed movie, who is even shown in two panels of the manga, one of which along with Callum Lynch.

More specifically, the memory itself, which Kagami witnessed in Madrid, is a re-telling with more details of Lin’s memory from the Assassin’s Creed Movie novelization. For instance, both stories mention the comparison, made by Qijie, of the butterfly and the rabbit - with the butterfly being an example for Qijie herself, as she was in a cage (the Imperial Palace) and the rabbit representing Jun, as she was free.

The movie novelization also mentioned Jun and Qijie / Zhang sneaking out of the concubine quarters and exploring at night, but did not make any reference to by far the biggest revelation of this part of the story in the manga, specifically that Jun had explored a tunnel with “shining walls”. The artwork itself clearly shows this to be Isu architecture, which finally gives us some potential answers on the long discussed theme of what exact “treasure” that Kagami and the Templars are actually after within the manga’s narrative. This discovery of course means that the Beijing Imperial Palace sits atop an Isu site, most likely a temple or vault. We actually knew there was some kind of Isu significance at this location since we had seen it highlighted in the Siwa Vault in Assassin's Creed Origins, as we mentioned in a previous article. It would be easy to make lots of theories at this point, but the very fact that we now know Shao Jun has had direct exposure to additional Isu technology is very intriguing.

We previously mentioned that the necklace that she wears has been very prominent in the artwork, and indeed was significant enough that
UbiWorkshop even made a dedicated replica a few years back. Could this too be a narrative echo? For example, what if the necklace is in fact a key to the Beijing Isu site? It would be similar to how Connor passed on the Grand Temple key to Desmond in Assassin's Creed III. It therefore would make more sense as to why Abstergo are now rapidly trying to research Shao Jun's story once more, especially if they have recently come across the Beijing Isu site in the Modern Day. However, if the site location has remained a mystery ever since the time of Shao Jun, then Lisa Yang certainly now holds the key for its discovery as well as its reopening, and a major victory for whomever finds it first – be they Assassin or Templar.

On a final note, we were positively surprised to see a new point of view on the Bleeding Effect – namely that too many times in the
Assassin’s Creed franchise Abstergo and the Templars have created and enhanced their own enemies by putting them in an Animus. Many of those completely lost their mind and self, but those who didn’t (primarily the main characters of the games and transmedia) turned out to be some of the worst enemies to the Templar cause in the modern day. We’re obviously talking about Desmond Miles, Clay Kaczmarek, but also Callum Lynch and the other subjects that were part of the 2016 rebellion in the Madrid facility.

It’s nice to see that finally this was addressed and Abstergo seems to be getting more cautious about the matter. At least that’s according to Dr. Kagami’s elderly superior, whom we surmised in the review of chapter 5 to be Ellen Kaye, the chairwoman from the Assassin’s Creed Movie. As an Easter Egg, the high ranking Templar even thinks (but doesn’t mention) of two examples of Assassins that were involved in such a situation: one is Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, whose abilities were passed on through the Animus, the other is Galina Voronina, who, according to Assassin’s Creed Initiates, learnt to fight from her ancestors.

Will, thus, Lisa be the next in line to undergo this process? Only time (and future chapters) will tell.  

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