Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 8

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.

This volume of Yona can be divided into two parts. The first sees Yona finally fulfill the first part of the prophecy, gathering the last dragon, and then trying to figure out where to go from here. The second takes us back to the kingdom where we see what Su-Won is up to, and figure out that he’s a far more ambiguous figure than everyone may thing (both reader and characters within the series). Both parts work equally well, and you get the sense that the author is declaring this the “end of Part 1/start of Part 2′ for the series, as Yona gets a new purpose that will still manage to keep her wandering around from town to town, and Su-Won shows that he is not a pacifist like Yona’s father, but that doesn’t mean that he’s gearing up for blood and carnage either.

After the epic adventures to find the various Dragons in prior books, it is very much an anticlimax to have the last one, Zeno, just pop up and say “OH HAI!” to our heroes, then join them on a whim. It’s intended on the author’s part, of course, and the rest of the cast are just as thrown off their game by this guy who seems like a giant flake but can occasionally show a flair for the serious, and also does not seem to have the deep emotional bond with Yona that the others do. Honestly, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if he turned out to not be what he seemed later on, but for now I’m content to go along with Zeno as he’s fun. We also return to Ik-Su the priest once Yun realizes that they’ve fulfilled the prophecy but nothing has actually happened. This leads to Yona questioning what she wants to do – does she want to regain the kingdom for her father? Well, no, she wants to help other towns in need. I suspect that’s what we’ll be doing for a while.

Meanwhile, back in the kingdom, we see a rather grumpy general, Geun-Tae, who is depressed that even though there’s a new, supposedly not pacifist king, he’s STILL not fighting in great battles. This allows us to see Su-Won’s too clever by half manipulation from another point of view, and that other point of view paints Su-Won as a clueless idiot. The audience already knows that’s not true, of course, so the chapters instead show how, in a mock war game, Su-Won can win the trust of an important ally, and also how he listens and pays attention to everything and uses it to better the kingdom. Su-Won is turning out to be a really good king, and therefore Yona’s decision is going to be even more difficult. (Also, I must resist calling Su-Won Henry IV.)

As always, there’s even more that I didn’t get to talk about, like Geun-Tae’s adorable tea-loving wife, and Yona deciding to learn how to swordfight by stealing Hak’s sword in his sleep, which goes about as well as you’d expect. The series remains compulsively readable, and even though it’s on the fasttrack with a release every two months, it still feels too long between volumes. More!

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