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Friday, February 23, 2018

Selah's Manga Mania Reviews: Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1
(Akatsuki no Yona)
by Mizuho Kusanagi
August 2, 2016
200 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media: Shojo Beat
Episodes: 24 - ongoing
Volumes: 24 (List of volumes)
Magazine: Hana to Yume
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Shoujo
Yona reels from the shock of witnessing a loved one’s murder and having to fight for her life. With Hak’s help, she flees the palace and struggles to survive while evading her enemy’s forces. But where will this displaced princess go when all the paths before her are uncertain?

Sometimes you want more than romance and hilarity. Sometimes, you want adventure. Whelp my dudes, I’ve got a series for that, too (I mean, come on, there’s a shojo series for everything).

Yona of the Dawn features a princess, her kingdom, and a fantasy atmosphere. We start off with the biggest worry of Princess Yona’s life is gaining the attention of Soo-Won, the friend and warrior she has a crush on. Otherwise, her father the king is a pacifist who keeps her from her kingdom’s troubles and she’s protected by palace guard Son Hak. On her birthday she walks in to find Soo-Won murdering her father, so that’s a bad day. Aided by Son Hak, she escapes to his village as Soo-Won takes her father’s place on the throne. Through a discovery of a prophecy, Yona and Son Hak begin an adventure to find the descendants of the Four Dragon Warriors.

What I love most about this series is Yona’s progression. You don’t always have a lot of character growth in shojo, but she absolutely is changing with every volume. We see her na├»ve and trusting to having everything taken from her. Volume by volume she gets a little stronger and develops her skills, while never losing her kindness. The qualities are balanced nicely in her, and they combine to form a heroine that is easy to get behind. Of course, it’s also about the lurv, and from what I’ve read so far (I think I’m at volume 6 so far), we’re slowly building up the harem, I mean group of warriors that will help her. 
Look, the which love interest will she choose is a thing, I can’t help it. Reverse harem is what it’s called. Obviously, this is very much leaning toward her and Son Hak, though I could be wrong and that would be massively interesting given how much the series is skewed in that direction. It’s really fascinating so far to read her experiences with the different places she’s discovering the warriors, as well as their own feelings at being recruited. It doesn’t feel like the same old story being re-hashed, and I’ve read a decent amount of fantasy series like this. The characters are still cultivating their feelings toward each other at the point where I’m at, but you also get glimpses back to the palace and other villages to see what Soo-Won and his cronies are up to.
I like him as a villain because you do kind of get where he’s coming from (it’s heavily implied that Yona’s dad was not the best king and his pacifism was more leaning toward ignoring certain issues than keeping peace). You also get to see through her eyes the result of her father’s rule, which is difficult for her at times, but are things she needs to see. I like that she’s given a chance to take things in and it’s not a 100 mph drive to get her back to the palace for revenge.This is very much a story about a journey, and so far it’s a journey worth taking.

I love the illustrations, they express the story very well and there are also some really interesting blends of cultures and ideas in the overall portrayal of the kingdom. Definitely worth taking a peak at if you want a different type of fantasy heroine and a long plotty series.
5 sheep as of volume 6

About Selah Janel:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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