Review by Ian Keogh
More or less adapting Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Awakening concerns Japanese teenager Masato Yagyu, told in Volume One that his mother designed a virtual reality game in which he experiences the life of his 18th century pirate ancestor Edward Kenway. Plot was minimal despite running over two hundred pages, but it picked up toward the end when Masato was told what he was doing, actually experiencing that past life, and that he was working for the Templars. We’ve also learned that Kenway was playing the Templars in the past, pretending to betray the Assassins. Masato’s co-operation has been assured by threats to his comatose mother.
This continuation is more of the same, the difference being that even more time is spent with Kenway, as he first has to prove himself, and then becomes involved in a pirate plot. Pirates have established a free base in the Bahamas, but this doesn’t sit well with the British Royal Navy. The pirates are split between those who think they can hold out, and those who believe the British will eventually just prove too strong. The problem with that is it may provide plenty of excitement in the actual game, but as transferred to comics by Takashi Yano and Kenji Oiwa, it’s relatively standard action manga, if set in the past. The reader interest is in Masato’s plight, and there’s not enough exploitation of that.
It’s not helped by Oiwa’s art either. There’s too little spectacle for something that starts off comparing poorly with the 3-D video graphics of the game, and conveying any emotion other than gritted-teeth anger’s not a strength. He’s good with atmosphere, though.
The final fifty pages finally move the action back to Masato, and do have an emotional pull, with the revelations a genuine surprise. By then, though, too much has been too ordinary.