Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 6

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.

One of the hallmarks of many a shoujo series is the idea of the man falling for a woman, among other reasons, because of her sheer stubbornness – the idea being that he no longer sees her as merely a weak girl who can’t do anything because of the fire in her eyes. And given that Jaeha is proving to be a tough nut to crack, it makes sense that we’d get one of these scenes with him and Yona as well. Of course, Yona of the Dawn is not your standard high school romance, and therefore the stubborn streak that Yona has involves truly death-defying walks along a sheer cliff face to acquire a much-needed herb. Jaeha can see how terrified Yona is of the whole thing, but also sees her reasoning behind why she still does it (mostly as she narrates it aloud to him, admittedly). It’s the best scene of the book.

The rest of the book is pretty nifty as well. We meet the pirate crew that Jaeha is working with, and they’re the ‘good’ kind of pirates, of course, led by a badass old woman who I hope we see more of but I suspect will be gone after this arc. The pirates are here to stop the evil slave traders kidnapping young girls, which makes Yona an obvious choice to be bait. (The other choice, equally obvious if you know this series, is Yun, who fills the tsundere role admirably and looks fantastic in women’s clothing (as he says himself). This does lead us to one of the series’ running themes, which is that it’s very difficult to conduct a secret mission to save the kingdom if you have fiery red hair that everyone knows is like the Princess. Yona’s solution here is very clever, and another sign of how she’s growing by leaps and bounds.

As for the romance side of the manga, well, Jaeha is falling for Yona, though he’s not quite ready to admit it. The second best scene in the book is when he talks to Hak and tries to get the measure of what the relationship between him and Yona is. Hak is very tightly wound, with most of his affection for Yona coming out as teasing and the occasional serious “dedication to duty” conversation, but it becomes clearer the longer he watches her that there is an intense pent-up desire there. This is normally the sort of thing that can’t stay pent up forever, but given this is a Hana to Yume romance, I expect it will likely stay pent up for quite some time. Still, it’s beautifully conveyed.

Ending with a truly loopy alternate universe omake (I love the idea of Yona as a ditz with a flower growing out of her head), this is another strong volume in an already strong series. Still one of the best Shojo Beat titles being released right now. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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