In July, producer Adi Shankar revealed that he would be following up his recent Castlevania show for Netflix with an Assassin’s Creed anime, partnering with Ubisoft to tell all new stories within the expansive history of the franchise. While there are many great and memorable characters already established in the Assassin’s Creed games, comics and novels, an original story with a new character is absolutely the best way to go for the anime and could open up the world of Assassin’s Creed to new audiences and new opportunities.
The franchise centers around the ages old conflict between the evil Templars, who want to control mankind through submission, and the heroic Assassins, who value free will for humanity. By using a machine called the Animus, people in the present day can access the genetic memories of their ancestors encoded in their DNA and relive those lives to search for ancient artifacts left by the alien civilization that lived on Earth prior to humans known as The Precursors or Those Who Came Before.
A Whole New World
One of the best things about Assassin’s Creed is that it doesn’t stand still for any amount of time. It would have been easy for Ubisoft to commit to the original star, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, as the star of all Assassin’s Creed games and media, but that’s not the kind of multimedia story Ubisoft has been telling for the past decade. Altaïr was followed by Ezio Auditore de Firenze, who was followed by the Kenway family of Edward, Haythem and Connor, and so on. Eventually, the games would visit French Revolution, and the next entry in the series will take place in ancient Egypt.
Meanwhile, Titan Comics has been producing companion series to the game for years that not only fill in the gaps of the Assassins’ history, but focus more on the present day struggle between the remaining group of guerilla Assassins and the corporate empire of Abstergo Industries, the modern day front for the Templars. The comics manage to make the present day story more compelling than the games or even the recent feature film ever managed to, and introduced its own roster of memorable characters to the series.
If the anime is going to be successful, it needs to pay close attention to how the comics manage to translate the storytelling of the games to a new medium and how they reinterpret the millenia-long struggle while remaining canon with the games, books, movie and everything else. There’s nothing quite like Assassin’s Creed in terms of canon and continuity; Ubisoft watches it so closely that everything fits and everything counts. The closest comparison would be how Disney oversees the Star Wars franchise now, but Ubisoft has been doing that kind of long-form multimedia storytelling with Assassin’s Creed since 2007.