Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 12

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 many things that the author of Yona of the Dawn is very good at is showing that the world keeps moving even as Yona and company are gallivanting around saving villages, gathering more hot guys, and hiding her true status from prying eyes, other parts of the Kingdom still have events move forward. Indeed, it’s doubly true here, as we see that Su-Jin, the leader of the Fire Tribe, has been plotting to overthrow the King for some time now, and is not going to let a little detail like Su-Won actually killing the previous King and taking over stop him. After all, what good are plans if they don’t end with you in a position of absolute authority? And so a lot of this volume is warfare and tactics, which is good. Fans of Yona’s slow-burning relationship with Hak may not get a lot to see here, but it doesn’t matter, as Kusanagi commands the reader’s attention no matter what she writes.

One of the things I like best anout this series is that it shows Yona’s decisions, which usually involve impulsively trying to protect those being attacked even when it would be far more sensible to stay hidden and keep doing reconnaissance, as being the right thing to do. Yes, Yun occasionally chimes in with how stupid this actually is, but the reason that everyone follows Yona is because she is wearing a nametag that says “Have you hugged your idealist today?”. Yes, the narrative shows that she made the right decision every time, but that’s the point. This is a manga that began with Yona’s crush and childhood friend betraying her and killing her father, and yet it refuses to get bitter and cynical, even when events conspire against it. Every time Yona looks determined and asks everyone to fight to save the oppressed, my heart grows a little bigger.

There is a bit of humor and romantic tease in this volume, mostly confined to the start, which sees all the guys squeezed into one small tent, or the wonderful shot of Jaeha with Sinha in his arms – not exactly what he’d planned. Presumably so the cliffhangers work out, we also get a couple pf side stories to round out the volume, the longer of which deals with Gija and the scars on his back. I’ll be honest, as the “harem” around Yona has grown, I feel that Gija has slipped into the background more than the others, so this was a nice way to remind readers of his past – which was sad, but not quite as sad as others were assuming. That said, I suspect readers will be focused more on the outcome of the battle between Su-Jin and Su-Won, and how the Happy Hungry Bunch are going to interfere even though they’re up against a ridiculous number of troops.

To sum up, Yona of the Dawn is still one of Viz’s best titles. Everyone should be reading it.

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