Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 20

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 Media. Translated by JN Productions, Adapted by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane.

In general, Yona of the Dawn is not a series that relies greatly on “our heroine is in peril, she must be rescued”, so it’s almost refreshing when we see a volume that mostly relies on that. Not that Yona is sitting around on her laurels. After she and Riri are brought to a slave labor camp, she quickly guesses that the “alcohol” they’re given in lieu of water is laced with the addictive drug they’ve been trying to shut down for so long. Then she and Riri both escape, and Riri even kills a guard when doing so, showing how far she’s come since her introduction. Unfortunately, it’s hard to escape in this sort of situation, leading to a cliffhanger where Riri tries to sacrifice herself to save Yona, they’re both exhausted and injured, and time is running out. Even if you don’t necessarily see this as a ship, as a friendship it’s top tier.

Meanwhile, Yona and Riri’s capture has been noticed by the rest of the cast. Our heroes go off to rescue them, though that does mean dividing their forces as they could be in one of two separate places. Tetra stays behind due to injury, but unfortunately this means she has to face a one-two punch of a) Riri’s father, and b) Su-0Won, both of whom show up to ask what’s going on. The series has been running for a while on the fact that Su-Won knows what Yona and Hak are doing but is deliberately ignoring it; that fact is tested to its limits in this book. Tetra tries very hard to explain everything that’s happened without mentioning Yona and her crew, even if that makes things sound suspicious. Later, when Su-Won arrives at one of the two slave labor camps, he and Hak communicate with a stone wall between them, agreeing to arrange a signal so that the army will know when to begin. It’s very tense, and you can see Hak’s frustration and anger at having to once again not acknowledge who Su-Won is because there are greater problems to be solved.

For the most part this volume is fairly series. There is one exception, which is amazingly funny, which involves the fact that the Wind Tribe has arrived to assist Su-Won in rescuing Riri. There ends up being a giant melee battle, during which Hak manages to blow up his allies – twice. The art is deliberately structured for maximum comedy value, as we see the exact same sequence of events only with two different people. This is followed by a few pages of Hak being totally befuddled at the fact that the Wind Tribe is here at all. I always enjoy the fact that, while some characters are funnier than others, Yona does not have a designated comedy guy, and everyone can be silly or serious depending on where the story needs them to be.

Another cliffhanger, though. Will Yona and Riri survive? (checks volume count) Oh, probably. But the excitement is in seeing how. And also who Hak will blow up with his comedy bombs next.

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