L5R Gets Graphic

April 22, 2009

death-at-koten-coverThere are manga that are based on video games and have had CCGs created about them, but this is the first time (that I am aware of), that a CCG is getting a graphic novel made about it!  Alderac Entertainment has announced a graphic novel for it’s CCG Legend of the Five Rings.  Titled Death at Koten, it follows Imperial Magistrate Seppun Tashime as he investigates the assassination of the Crab Clan Leader.

It’s about time that Legend of the Five Rings got a graphic adaptation.  The concept was just made for graphic novels, and shouldn’t have taken 15 years to get here!  Legend of the Five Rings was born in the CCG boom, and it differentiated itself from other CCGs by having a storyline running through the game.  The base set would set up a story, and then players could influence the direction of the story through voting and tournament play.  It also set itself apart by being based on Asian culture instead of European or some fantasy/sci-fi universe.  It takes place in the land of the Emerald Empire which is ruled by the Emerald Emperor, and the clans sworned to serve and protect him.  The conflict comes from the clans, which can fight each other to exapand their holdings, or can engage in political intrigue to gain favor with the Emperor.  There is also the Shadowlands, an area just out the boundaries of the Emerald Empire where evil creatures and dark magic wait for a moment of weakness in the Empire that they can exploit and invade.  There is plenty of potential for stories here, with the main story, or any number of side stories with the the clans and/or Shadowlands.

I’ve been a fan of this series, though not a player.  The whole story aspect and Asian influence is what attracted it to me in the first place.   I have cards from the first few releases, mainly Imperial and Jade, though I could never get a complete set.  Darn players getting in the way of my collecting!

The graphic novel that is coming out in April (though it’s only just appeared in Previews to come out in June), is 152 pgs and full color.  It retails for $24.95, though you can find it available for pre-order for $17-19.  This is a little steep, in my opinion, though it is an original story and in color.  It probably isn’t too far out of line with other graphic novels.

Now, a better way to go, IMHO, is to drop the color, and make it into an OEL manga series.  There is so much content to pull from already.  There have been several novels exploring the first two releases and their expansions.  Just getting these in graphic form would be so awesome!  And getting the stories that have happened since then would be even more awesome!  The character designs are already done, as there are cards for all the major players.  Perhaps the hardest part of making this a manga is paring the story down.

Legend of the Five Rings has everything needed to be a successful graphic novel; action, intrigue, strong characters, great art and a built in audience!  Hopefully, if this book does well, there will be others.  Manga size would fit best on my bookshelf though.

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