- 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…)
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!