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Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge Of Balance Volume 1 Manga Review

“Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge Of Balance” begins a new story arc within the multi-media extravaganza.

Written by Shima Shinya and Justina Ireland, the first volume of “Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge Of Balance” begins with debris from the hyperspace accident pummeling the planet Ta’klah. The story then jumps forward to two Jedi (Lily and the Wookiee Master Arkoff) en route to the Outer Rim planet Banchii to help Ta’klah refugees settle on the planet which is also home to a Jedi Temple. Upon arrival, we (the audience) meet other Jedi characters including Lily’s Padawan Keerin Fionn and Younglings Nima and Viv’nia. The plot (which is set before, during and after the Nihil attack on the Republic Fair) primarily focuses on the Drengir (carnivorous sentient plant beings) popping up on Banchii, but there are other storylines involving the strange Mr. Kooba, Lily undergoing change and learning valuable lessons, and the Nihil (the main villains of the High Republic era). As an added bonus, there is a short story titled “The Banchiians” by Shima Sinya and artist Nezu Usugumo which finds Lily, Keerin and the Younglings exploring Banchii and discovering local creature inhabitants. It’s a nice little piece of world building.

For those that have been following the High Republic stories (and trust me, you really have to follow them all), ‘The Edge Of Balance’ is a new story arc within this ongoing series of stories that spans books, comics, and Viz Media manga (possibly more in the future). To no surprise, the first volume spends a lot of time introducing characters and the world of Banchii while also doing some general world building and alluding to events and villains within this timeline. Shima Shinya and Justina Ireland do a fine job of letting the characters breathe while also depicting plenty of lightsaber slashing action and setting up mysteries to come in future volumes. Speaking of the characters, Lily looks to be an interesting one to be sure. She’s principled and brave, but clearly conflicted, uncertain and needs to open up more. As the title suggests, she is trying to learn balance in herself, with the Jedi and with other individuals. I look forward to seeing where her character goes next. 

Although I am not keen on the Drengir, this is the best interpretation of them to date probably because they work for a visual medium like manga. Yes, they still feel like something from “Doctor Who” and not Star Wars, but at least they look and feel more threatening here.

On the subject of the Drengir visuals, my hat goes off to Mizuki Sakakibara. The artist creates traditional manga style art while staying true to the spirit of Star Wars storytelling and visuals. You might say Sakakibara finds a balance?

September 17, 2021 - Posted by | Manga Review | , , , ,

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