• Genre : Fantasy, Action, Reverse Harem(?)
  • Episodes: 24
  • Studio: Pierrot

SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 1 IN THE SYNOPSIS….I AM GUD AT REVIEWS!

Have you ever had a crush on someone that turned out to be a bit of a jerk? Like you were all about that person and they just turn around and do something really inconsiderate. Then you have to ask yourself whether you are an idiot that didn’t see it or whether they changed on you…It’s not a great feeling. Well you have nothing on Yona!… Not only did her childhood crush not answer her feelings like she would have wanted, but he murdered her father, usurped her throne and effectively doomed her to a life on the run! And he had the nerve to look extremely good while doing it all, too!!!! That’s just plain rude. At least Yona still has her faithful bodyguard Hak to help her figure out what to do, and an ancient legend full of magic and dragons to guide her way. Soo-won messed with the wrong princess this time.

MORE SPOILERS BUT IN A SORT OF GENERAL WAY AND NOT EXACTLY ABOUT THE PLOT ITSELF AND ALSO I MIGHT BE A SPOT SALTIER THAN USUAL WHICH I THINK IS STILL SESAME STREET LEVEL…

To all of you who told me to watch Yona of the Dawn: why oh why didn’t you warn me it was incomplete!?! I have been walking around with a major case of anime blue balls for a week now!!! That’s not cool you guys. It stops at the best part. Like I could just go – yeah I don’t care what happens next!….. (I haven’t seen the OVAs but the anime leaves us with such juicy questions you guys….I have never wanted another season more. Let me rephrase that I have never wanted another season more except for Natsume and perhaps the Eccentric Family…)

meanies!!!

And one more thing! For all of you that made me watch Yona of the Dawn (some of you may be teachers): Thank You. It really was wonderful.

OK, let’s get through the technical stuff first. It was all good. Next.

No but really, every aspect of the production, both visual and audio was great. A beautiful looking show and great performances all around. I have no complaints at all. At the same time, it is very traditional, so nothing stood out that much.

Look, maybe I just got blinded to the production values because of that narrative. Trust me when I say, it’s the story that makes this series really worthwhile.

it’s NOT a bad thing…

First let me say that it seems the show is often categorized as a reverse harem and a romance. I even put it in my own categories because peer pressure. I should point out that, had I not been explicitly told this by my readers, I may not have noticed. I would have called it action fantasy. It reminded me of classics like the Lord of the Rings maybe a touch of The Witch, the Lion and the Wardrobe at times. Sure, there is moments of romance here and there but not that much more than any other action series. What I’m saying is, if you’ve been avoiding this show because you think it’s a pretty boy show, you are doing yourself a disservice. It’s very much a classic hero’s journey. In fact, if we just play with the setting a bit, it’s even reminiscent of Star Wars.

I just threw a lot of names, around didn’t I? Well that’s because Yona really does follow a classic structure that’s been used time and again. And that’s not a bad thing at all. You could be fooled into thinking you’re watching an adaptation of a traditional myth (and maybe you are). You have intrigue, betrayal, murder and revenge all blend into that established mix of breakneck action and tense drama. However, Yona also brings some deeply sobering subversion of expectations.

There are some very hard and unpleasant truths scattered throughout the adventure. A human life is pretty much impossible without doing harm to the world around them. Right and wrong are heavily dependent on one’s perspective. Being good isn’t always the same as being just or right. And sometimes, harsh decision must be made. You can end up doing a lot of harm trying to avoid them.

I loved this theme

I must admit, I loved that they didn’t dumb down the motivations and moralities in the story to simple good versus evil. It takes a certain amount of faith in your audience to present moral quandaries without a clear answer and under all the dazzling fight scenes, handsome dragons and emotional self-actualization, Yona poses complex questions and trust you to find the answer for yourself.

At least it seems to…. You see, just as our perceived antagonist is shown in an entire new light, making him infinitely more difficult to gauge and interesting… Just as a new and somewhat suspicious ally joins the fray and starts spreading uncertainty among our little group…. Just as Yona has scrapped together enough confidence and realization to start making those aforementioned harsh decisions… The series ends!

Let me tell you folks, it is frustrating. This is a wonderfully paced show that lends itself extremely well to binge or at the very least daily watching, and to have everything just suddenly cut off like that left me a little stunned. If you take an issue with lack of closure, this will be devastating.

speaking of devastating…

I mean – you can simply pick up the manga…You didn’t hear it from me or anything but apparently there are websites where you can read manga for free….

Man, I didn’t even start of the characters. They’re great. Like really great. They all have distinctive personalities with fun quirks and eccentricities while remaining coherent and consistent. They act in a way you can imagine that type of person would.I really wanted to get to know them better. Ahem!

Power dynamics are also very interesting. It’s still unusual to have a young woman as the hero of these types of stories, when you add into it the fact that she is an imperial princess, with all the privilege and isolation that implies, Yona’s presence and interaction with those around her become even more unusual and yet ring true. Giving her implied power allows her to have an agency that is rarely seen in historical settings.

I just wanted to put a pic of the blue dragon – his design is a little mononoke hime…

And then of course there’s the political intrigue. The attention given to the particularities of administrating a kingdom were fantastic and intriguing… OK I’m gonna stop.I’m just listing things and saying they were great…

Let me try to sum it up. On the surface, Yona of the Dawn is a fantasy epic about a young princess with a promised destiny who goes on a quest to find the four dragons of legend and has adventures along the way. It follows a group of excentric adventurers, bound by legend. Beyond and around that, it’s a refreshingly sensible coming of age story and exploration of the avenues and responsibilities of power in social constructs.There’s pretty dragons.

Both of these things are true, yet you can easily enjoy the series without paying attention to either.  

Random thought: There’s a repeated theme of loosing or having to leave behind your parents (parent figures) in order to grow up. It was touching.

just watch it and ask for another season

Favorite character: Yoon – us beautiful geniuses have to stick together!

What this anime taught me: Don’t get blinded by or to your feelings

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.

Suggested drink: Golden Dawn

  • Every time anyone says “princess” – take a sip
    • if it’s Hak – grin
  • Every time Yona’s hair gets mentioned – take a sip
  • Every time Hak bicker’s with anyone – take a sip
    • if it’s Yona – nod knowingly
    • if it’s Kija – giggle
  • Every time Yona takes matters into her own hands – cheer
    • If Hak has to save her – shake your head
  • Every time Yoon is bothered or finds something troublesome – take a sip
  • Every time we see Hak, Soo-won and Yona as kids – sigh
  • Every time Yoon is a handsome genius – agree
  • Every time Hak calls Kija “White Snake”– Here I go again
  • Every time anyone says Dragon – take a sip
  • Every time you or anyone else chasges their mind about Soo-won – ask for another season!

34 thoughts on “Yona of the Dawn – What My Readers Didn’t Tell Me!”

  1. Join us in our sad wait for another season. I’m so happy you enjoyed it though! Your review was amazing and Soo-Won is one of the better antagonists in a story. It is so confusing that you want to hate him but then did he save the country?
    Then the confusion over her love for her father but maybe seeing that he really wasn’t the best leader even though he loved her and she loved him.
    Ugh it was so good.
    I’m very sorry about the blue balls though…

  2. I wasn’t much of a fan of this one XD. For me, this sort of story felt too familiar in what I’ve seen in fantasy stories. Initially I was on board since I felt the early episodes showed some promise, but as it went on I fed up with Yona crying several times that she’s weak, and going to get stronger.

    I did like the first opening theme a lot. Felt like I was going to go on a grand adventure, and than the second theme did nothing for me. Like someone else said in the comment, at least it finished the arc it started. Nothing bugs me more than watching an anime in the middle of an arc, and it just ends!

    Favorite character in this series was that squirrel. It was cute.

      1. I don’t think I have a high bar for bad ass female characters XD. For me, a bad ass female character would be someone like Ryuko Matoi from Kill La Kill who alongside being tough shows a lot of personality. She pushes herself through a lot of hardship, and always finds a way to come out on top.

        Another badass female character would be The Bride from Kill Bill. She works from her lowest point, and through injury all in the name of vengeance. Doesn’t matter if she’s out number in a fight, she’ll do what it takes to win. Same thing with the main character of the Lady Snowblood manga who also takes vengeance on those who wrong her, and she’s pretty bad ass. Hard not to be impressed by a killer lady who kills half a dozen men in the snow while naked lol.

        Going back to anime, I guess another one would be Saber from Fate/Zero specifically. She has to put up with a person of conflicting ideals in order for her to achieve her goals. She also prefers to fight fairly who for me shows her confident in her swordsmanship. For me, it’s her skills with her sword that makes her badass….plus she looks pretty good in a suit.

        1. I dunno about Saber. She’s actually a guy and literally a tool. I see where your coming from with Ryuko she’s a favorite of mine like most people.
          I still think Yona is pretty awesome.

  3. You’ve watched way too many anime, when you think that an anime not finishing is the default, and when an anime finishes that’s worth mentioning. I thought it was quite nice that the anime at least finishes the act it started.

    Yona was an awesome protagonist, and I was really happy that Chiwa Saitou got to show what she can do when the show demands it. (I love her, because – like Yuki Aoi – she’s equally good at serious and silly roles.)

    If the anime ever gets a second season, I’ll have to rewatch the first one, or read a summary, or trust that it’ll all come back to me as I go (as it usually does). I do remember the show containing an ever-hungry squirrel companion.

      1. I don’t remember the details, but I certainly didn’t get that impression. (Try Gangsta for that kind of ending.)

  4. The incomplete nature of this story drives me crazy. I’ve just finished drafting a review of the first volume of the manga because I finally gave in and decided to read the source to find out what actually happens (I couldn’t take not knowing any more). However, reading the manga has made me realise I’m in for a long journey because that first volume doesn’t cover very much so I’m wondering how much I’ll need to read to even catch up with where the anime left off.

      1. That said, it was a delight to read and I’ve got the second volume already, but still, it is going to be a slow and probably reasonably expenses venture to find out the rest of the story at this point.

          1. Most likely. Normally that would be a concern because if the story in the anime didn’t finish I’d just move on. However, this one made me interested enough to want to track down the source.

  5. Yeah. I always hate it when someone makes a great anime and it gets killed before its time. Beautiful bones was that way too. The way it ended implied that Soo-won had his reasons and may not be such a bad guy.

  6. Haven’t watched this one yet…
    But it’s unfinished? Well, my interest just dropped down a notch! I was hoping it would be like Maoyu but more grounded and actually have an ENDING! Boohoo…

    1. It does not have an ending but you would be missing out if you skipped it. One of the bast anime I’ve seen in a while….I say that a lot…

  7. I really loved this series, although it makes me wish that I were more familiar with Korean mythology/folktales. (I have no idea if this story touches upon actual Korean legends.) And while the ending is frustrating in its lack of resolution, it is nonetheless ideally placed. Just think how common ambiguous endings are in anime, and Japanese cinema in general. “Closure” seems to be a very Western idea. . .That said, this ending allows for the story to be resumed later (after more funding is secured, for instance), but also allows viewers to assume a completely different storyline–that Yona’s failure to kill her cousin at the end implies her reluctant acceptance of his ascension (he has, after all, greatly unified the nation–if by force), leaving her free to start a new seaborne nation with the help of her followers. . .

    Wait, what?! Well, let me throw some names at you: Ching Shih of China; Grace O’Malley of Ireland; Teuta of Illyria; and last, showing that even Islam couldn’t constrain piracy to gender, I offer Sayyida al Hurra of Tétouan, Morocco. Each of these women is remembered to history as a pirate queen. While the last two were queens who employed and led pirates, the first two were pirates who established and ruled land bases as de facto queens.

    So, just something to think about. Maybe Yona’s ending wasn’t quite as milquetoast as might first be thought. Now, if you really want to get me riled up about being left hanging by an anime ending, let’s talk Kemono Friends! I mean, really, how the h_ll do you just fire the guy who turns a season’s most poorly animated show into its biggest hit?! I love that show! What Tatsuki did is amazing! OK, I’m gonna go sit in my corner and cuss for a while. . .

    1. That was a great story – thanks.
      This said personally I don’t find the ending milquetoast at all. Quite the contrary it stops at such an interesting and exciting point that I really want more.

  8. *HUGS* Omg we just lured you into the pain train! Irina has finally joined us!!! I’m glad you liked the show and sorry for not hinting about the season’s complete halt. IT IS DEVASTATING ˚‧º·(˚ ˃̣̣̥⌓˂̣̣̥ )‧º·˚ But the in the manga it gets better (tries to sound positive lol). I absolutely love Yoon too (best mom), but It’s one of those series were you love almost every character in the show. My fav side characters were Gen Geun-Tae and Mun-deok. <3 Also, the seiyus for this series are A+++ ^_^

  9. Waaaaaah! You just reminded me how upset I am about this! When I watched it (don’t ask me how, possibly due to drinking), I somehow miscounted the episodes and thought I was on the second to last one when I was in fact on the last one. Then it finished and Waaaaaaaaaaaah!

    I absolutely love the show but somehow just can’t get into reading the manga (plus I may have spoiled the story somewhat by reading fanfic in my state of desperation after the anime finished.)

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