When it comes to annualized triple-A franchises like Assassin's Creed, it's not enough for just the games to exist any more.
Instead, more and more companies are taking a "transmedia" approach in which favorite characters and settings find themselves plastered across books, soundtrack CDs, comics and more in an effort to make each series stand out as much as possible.
This is nothing new in Japan, of course, where there's a lot of interplay between different forms of media. PC-based visual novels and games are often adapted into anime, manga, drama CDs and light novels, and if they're popular enough, a string of related merchandise such as action figures or displayable figurines often follows.
We reported a couple of months back that Ubisoft was jumping on this trend for the upcoming Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag thanks to a partnership with the magazine Jump X (pictured, right). Siliconera reports that the adaptation, now well underway, is an "all-original" version that fills in some of the gaps in main character Edward's story, along with exploring the life of this installment's Animus user, who appears to be the half-Japanese, half-European son of an Abstergo researcher. Ubisoft hasn't talked a huge amount about the new game's present-day sequences until now, but all indications seem to be that you're playing "yourself" rather than a set character this time; the Animus user for the manga adaptation appears to be an original creation.
The distinctive visual style is the work of Kenji Oiwa, the artist behind Welcome to the NHK and Goth. It's something of a change in theme for Oiwa, whose work usually focuses on modern-day settings and characters -- Welcome the NHK explored the life of a hikikomori (shut-in) while Goth is a series of short stories about two high-school students fascinated by murder -- but it's in keeping with Japan's current seeming fascination with pirates thanks to the ongoing popularity of series like One Piece.
There's no word on whether or not we can expect an English language release of the manga. If it does happen, past adaptations would seem to indicate it's more likely we'll see it as a standalone book rather than a serialization in a magazine -- that said, even if an official English release doesn't happen, with the Internet being the Internet, you can probably count on some resourceful bilingual (or Google Translate-equipped) person to translate it all for everyone before very long.
If you can read Japanese, there's more information on the new serialization on Jump X's site, and here's a page from the manga itself showing the modern-day protagonist:
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