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Review Vol.1 Star Wars – The High Republic – A fragile balance – Manga

nobi nobi! spoils us on this Star Wars Day 2022, a day born from the pun constituted by the Anglicism of the date, May the 4th, whose pronunciation resonates with the fetish phrase of the saga that is “May the Force be with you” . In parallel to the very good first volume of the Lost Stars manga, another recent manga is offered to us, in a rather different pitfall. Unlike Lost Stars, La Haute République – A fragile balance is a creation designed for the American market above all. It therefore did not have a Japanese pre-publication, and the reading direction automatically becomes that of the West. Anchored in the recent era of the saga inaugurated by Disney, the title in two volumes was launched last year in the United States. Drawn by Mizuki Sakakibara (whom we know for the manga Tiger & Bunny whose publication was canceled with us by Kazé after 5 volumes), it was scripted by four hands, namely the Japanese mangaka Shima Shinya and the Californian author Justina Ireland. Another type of proposal therefore, making the launch of the Star Wars manga collection with us all the more interesting.

The story takes place nearly two decades before the Skywalker saga, in other words long before the rise of the Empire and the birth of the one who will foment its galactic rise, Sheev Palpatine. Guarantor of peace, working for the Republic and the security of its various worlds, the Jedi Order has had a lot to do since the Great Catastrophe. It is also because of her that refugees must find a new habitat, which is the case of a handful of migrants escorted by Lily Tora-Asi, a young Jedi following the teaching of her mentor, the wookie Master Arkoff. Guiding them to the planet Banchii, the place where a new Jedi temple has just been built, Lily did not expect this escort to turn into a rescue mission when, on the colonized planet, a particularly violent form of life attack on the inhabitants…

This first volume of the diptych A fragile equilibrium has something to destabilize. Anchored in an era starkly nurtured by comics, novels and now manga, The High Republic is a totally new path in the new Star Wars universe developed by Disney, having denied everything that had been done in the old extended universe (the one now named “Legends”). A new chronology, therefore, responsible for telling stories taking place before the first numbered episode of the saga (The Phantom Menace), and therefore showing us what the Jedi Order of yesteryear was, and to what dangers the Republic of yesteryear rubbed shoulders.

The short manga drawn by Mizuki Sakakibara wants to tell us a little adventure in this fresh chronological era. The idea is good on paper, even excellent, but novice readers will very quickly be confronted with the main difficulty of the book: Its connections with novels stamped La Haute République, since these are literary works (and comics ) which forge the bases of this new scenario area to explore. Although this manga has an independent side, the fact that the characters presented to us can suffice with a few developments related to the adventures they live, difficult not to be a bit lost when the “Great Catastrophe” is evoked without explanation. », while the threat of an enemy unknown to us (but present in the novels) seems to weigh. In short, we have the impression of reading the derivative of a greater fresco, not that of the films, but composed by the other formats which build the heart of the era of the High Republic.

However, if this specificity of the story prevents us from fully grasping the issues that permeate the universe, the adventure itself retains an independent character. Just as some comics come to tell an adventure in a wider universe that we are supposed to know, that told by the films of the Skywalker saga, A fragile balance comes to offer us this story of the Jedi Lily, coming to the aid of space refugees on a planet under attack by plant life forms. A simple plot therefore, justifying the journey of one Jedi among many others, giving a vision of this historical period taking place long before the Empire, and offering its own interpretation of the Jedi codes of this era. Because the action comes to revolve around these knights of different guards, we feel that a slightly new mythology is trying to be shown to us, through a short dynamic and rhythmic story, addressing the widest possible readership. .

As such, the paw of Mizuki Sakakibara does not lack panache. His line is impregnated with the universe and its aesthetics, giving rise to boards that are certainly loaded but which seek to nourish a true testimony of this new era. Although the action takes place long before the movies, the Star Wars DNA is felt without harm, which is important when juggling mediums.

This first volume of the manga linked to the High Republic therefore has its posterior between two chairs, and will most certainly only be appreciated after a passage on the novels of this historical period of the universe. Nevertheless, this first volume succeeds in its entertainment perspective, allows a mangaka to express himself through one of the strongest sagas of pop-culture, and will certainly make you want to discover more about the stories of this High Republic. In this sense, Disney succeeds in its bet, and we will still wait for the second and last part with a little curiosity.

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