By Mizuho Kusanagi. Released in Japan as “Akatsuki no Yona” by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz. Translated by JN Productions, Adapted by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane.
Yona of the Dawn has clearly been a fantasy series from the get go, but with this volume we also see it starting to take on the quality of myth. Or rather, of creating a myth, as it turns out that Yona’s red hair (something she’s always disliked) is part of a prophecy that has been bandied about. Not to mention that the priest we meet at the end of Vol. 2 turns out to be able to literally communicate with God, and also mentions a “red dragon” who will unite the land. So good thing Yona is the protagonist, then, as she certainly has her work cut out for her. Luckily, she manages to gain a few more allies than just Hak in this book.
First off, we have Yun, who I suspect was brought in by the author to fill the ‘tsukkomi’ role, but in non-meta terms, he’s got a destiny that’s bigger than just taking care of an absent-minded priest, and Yona is where he can find it. His backstory once again reminds us that this land is filled with strife, politics, and suffering, something that Yona too is gradually discovering as she realizes how much she really wasn’t aware of as the pretty princess. The other new ally is Gija (please, no romanization arguments, Japan asked for the G), who is one of the Four Dragon Warriors who wield tremendous power (as seen by his reptilian right arm), and whose ancestors have been waiting an awfully long time for Yona to show up. Being a blond second love interest sort, he and Hak naturally don’t get along, and I suspect this will be a source of amusement in the future.
This is Yona’s volume, though, and she’s really fantastic in it. She’s determined to not be useless if they get attacked by enemies again, but saying you want to learn to use a sword and bow and actually having the nerve to take a life are too very different things. Yona clearly has some skill (used, in best romantic comedy fashion, when Hak provokes her), but she’s a princess who was raised by a pacifist. Hak explicitly says that by teaching her to fight, he’s defying her late father’s order to never let her touch a weapon. Violence and strife will come to Yona, but facing them head on will not be easy. Something that she realizes as we move on.
Note that this story is not all serious murmurs about fighting and destiny. Yona and Hak may or may not be the main “will they get together” couple, but they are hilarious together, with Yona’s faces when she’s aggravated with him being particularly funny. (The start of Chapter 15 verges on magical.) And Yun, as I noted before, has a nice ability to be a grumpy snarker, having absolutely no time for Hak and Gija trying to figure out who is the best man to protect Yona. No doubt all of them will try, but I’m hoping that as the series goes on, Yona will learn more and more to protect herself. Can’t wait for the next volume.