A guide to new offers from the Haute République, cinematographic adaptations
With nearly a dozen movies, multiple TV shows, and – literally – hundreds of books and comics, there’s a Star Wars for everyone. And that includes manga, the hugely popular comic book and graphic novel form that originated in Japan. There are around a dozen different Star Wars manga collections, including the newly released Original Story, The High Republic: the edge of balance.
It’s no secret that many aspects of the Star Wars universe are inspired by Japanese culture and history. Just look at the samurai influences seen in the Jedi’s call for peacekeeping and their laser swords, and the feudal inspiration from Japan behind Darth Vader’s armor.
With so much Japanese influence, it’s surprising that there aren’t more adaptations of manga and original stories. And, fans just got the Star Wars anime when Visions premieres September 22.
While Visions offers a slew of all-new stories set in the galaxy, there are plenty of Star Wars manga to read ahead of time.
1. The High Republic: the edge of balance
The latest Star Wars manga series is by authors Justina Ireland and Shima Shinya with illustrations by Mizuki Sakakibara and Nezu Usugumo. A brand new story set hundreds of years before the events of The phantom menace, the edge of balance primarily follows a group of Jedi and their evolving roles as advocates for the peace of the galaxy. Jedi knight Lily Tora-Asi is the main character, along with her padawan Keerin and former Wookie master, Arkoff. Similar to the character study and emotional journey seen in High Republic stories with Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh, the Balance edge explores Lily’s impostor syndrome and her feelings of inadequacy for being a knight and having a Padawan apprentice at such a young age. Set in the High Republic, there are also references to previous stories and characters like the emergence of hyperspace and the Nihil threat in the still unstable territories of the Outer Rim.
Although this is a new story with several novels and comic book series that came before it, the Balance edge is easy to approach without feeling like you are missing pieces of the larger story.
2. Star Wars: The Lost Stars
One of the few novels that covers much of the Star Wars timeline, Lost stars by Claudia Gray also has a manga adaptation depicting the cursed lives of Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree. The story follows Thane and Ciena from their childhood, through their time at the Imperial Academy and Thane’s defection to rebellion after witnessing the Empire’s horrific fascism. Lost stars is a heartbreaking and moving story that pits two longtime friends against each other, forcing them to be on their side and to choose between love and loyalty to their cause. The novel is one of Star Wars’ best books, but its manga adaptation brings characters and scenes to life in a way that is both incredibly intimate and epic.
3. Leia Organa: Trial of the Princess
Another adaptation of a novel by Claudia Gray, this one illustrates the story of Leia, Princess of Alderaan. The novel and manga follow Princess Leia as a teenager, roughly three years before the Battle of Yavin seen in New hope. LÃ©ia follows the future leader of the Rebellion and Resistance as she learns the ways of politics in the Empire and on her home planet, where she prepares for a special ceremony that marks her as the future rightful ruler of Alderaan . She also notices that her parents, Bail and Breha Organa, are much more distant than before and participate in secret meetings. Once she learns their secret, however, she is forced to choose between fulfilling her traditional duty to Alderaan and the Empire or fighting alongside her parents against an oppressive regime.
Only one tome has been released so far due to the author’s health concerns, but a second tome is expected in 2022.
4. Star Wars Rebels
This adaptation follows the same story as the eponymous animated series, just in manga format. Like LÃ©ia, Rebels follows teenage Ezra Bridger as his life on Lothal is turned upside down by the appearance of rebels aboard the spaceship Phantom. Also as LÃ©ia, only one volume of the series has been printed in English so far. But volume 2 is slated for release on September 28, 2021.
5. Guardians of the Whills
Sharing the same name as the average novel published in 2017, the Guardians of the Whills the manga follows the beloved Thief one duo of Baze Malbus and Chirrut Ãmwe. The two have long guarded the Kyber Temple on the planet Jedha, honoring the Force and working to keep the peace amid the Empire’s growing chaos and fascism. Located before the events of Thief one, the story follows the Guardians who struggle to maintain their peaceful beliefs when faced with violence from both sides – invading stormtroopers and intense rebel fighter Saw Gerrera.
6. The Legends of Luke Skywalker
Another adaptation, this transforms the anthology novel for young readers into a manga with a different creator illustrating each chapter. Part of the journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi campaign, novel and manga explore several popular myths and legends about the famous Jedi knight Luke Skywalker. This includes a story about Luke saving multiple Imperials during the Battle of Jakku, one showing the Jedi inciting a droid rebellion, another story featuring iconic scenes from Return of the Jedi from a mole flea perspective and another showing Luke and a scientist being eaten by a giant space slug.
With a group of creators presenting their take on Star Wars stories, The Legends of Luke Skywalker the manga is a good example of what might be in store in Star Wars: Visions.
7. The original trilogy and The phantom menace
The original Star Wars movie trilogy was adapted into multiple manga volumes each in the late 1990s. Then, The phantom menace was also adapted after its release. Each manga comes close to the original source script, telling the stories of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa then Padme Amidala and a young Anakin Skywalker. But, being manga adaptations, the original trilogy and The phantom menace are portrayed in an even more poignant and expressive way.
8. Star Wars Manga: Black and Silver
Released in 2005 by Tokyopop, Star Wars Manga: Black and Star Wars Manga: Silver are two anthology volumes of short tales created under the name “Infinities”, which means they weren’t canon from the start. But the series focuses on recognizable characters and settings from the original trilogy and previous eras, including General Grievous, young Anakin Skywalker, and Darth Vader. There are even stories of Vader engaging in a lightsaber duel with R2-D2 and training a secret apprentice after the Battle of Yavin.
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