Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 22

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.

Last time I asked when Yona was going to finally realize her romantic feelings for Hak, and I guess the answer is “not that long after”, as she admits it to Riri, if not to Hak. The two have a heart to heart, and Riri, of course, wants Yona to immediately confess. Yona, though, is now aware of her feelings but has to contextualize them with the rest of her life with Hak – she can’t simply flip into “oh, I love him” right away. Especially as we’re still not quite sure how she feels about Su-Won. Though Hak seems to think he knows how she feels, and proves it by spending most of a chapter trying to retrieve the hairpin that Su-Won gave Yona. Hak’s self-sacrifice can verge on the ridiculous at times, and it should be clear to the reader that we’re likely a couple of volumes away from a confession. Still, it’s nice to see Yona’s awareness.

While it’s clear to the reader that Yona and Hak are the big romantic pairing in this series, romance is only one facet of this fantasy action series, and the facet begins and ends with those two. This leads to an amazing scene where Su-Won goes to visit a recovering Riri, and sparks absolutely do not fly. In fact, he begs her to treat him normally, as it’s just too uncomfortable having Riri using polite language to him. (Given how often Su-Won goes undercover, this must happen quite a lot.) Others may see her as a potential bride for the King (witness the amazing sword dance that goes on as Riri gets a quick makeup job) but Riri likes Yona… erm, pardon me, older men like Geun-Tae, and Su-Won does not seem to grasp the concept of love and romance, something he freely admits. Which is possibly why he gave Yona that remarkable hairpin before murdering her father.

We finish up one plot and begin another in this book, which means we get nice comedy moments in between arcs, as always (no, Jaeha’s foot does not grow huge like Gija’s hand) before the Happy Hungry Bunch are called to Xing, another kingdom that is about to go to war with Kohka. The kingdom is divided between the two princesses, and Yona and company meet the younger one, Tao, who is trying to save lives by having her country surrender. Needless to say, this makes her a target for those who disagree. Tao looks like a classic “I appear to be an adorable pushover, but am actually very clever” sorts, and I took to her right away – especially when she noticed Yona’s discomfort around the guys due to the sudden incursion of an unusually painful period, and took immediate action. Hopefully she survives the cliffhanger ending, though given she’s with Zeno, who has gotten very good at using his powers now that we know what they are, I think she’ll be OK.

As always, it’s hard to say “this is a must buy and essential shoujo” after every review, but it’s true. An excellent volume.

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