Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 23

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.

After escaping from the burning building, complete with another round of “Jesus Christ, Zeno, MUST YOU?” self-sacrifice, our heroes are ready to deal with the plot. Unfortunately, the plot is forcing them to do something that’s been a long time coming. For most of the beginning and middle of this series, the goal has been to hide Yona’s identity and have her and the others function as a rogue band of do-gooders while also learning more about the country where her father was (a pretty crappy) king. But sometimes things can’t be solved by anonymous bandits, and here Yona is forced to not only reveal who she actually is, but goes off to negotiate with Su-Won as herself, something that I’m sure will go well and not be a disaster at all. Unfortunately, we have to wait till Vol. 24 for the fallout. Again, though, Yona’s “beacon of hope shining in the darkness” personality trumps all subterfuge. Well, that and the fact that 3/4 of the cast are hostages.

We also meet Princess Kouren, Tao’s older sister, in the best possible way – Yona shoots down a bird that lands directly on her face. I expect we will get more from her in the next volume, but it’s worth noting that Tao here is allowed to have the longer view of trying to save more lives of her kingdom’s people (and it’s shown here that they’re really trying to conscript EVERYONE into the army here) because she has not been traumatized by the violence of the kingdom’s enemies. If you see all of your friends brutally murdered in front of your eyes, it is absolutely valid that you are not going to want to simply barter a peace treaty with those who did it. That said, I worry that she may end up needing to be killed by the plot in order to posthumously learn to let go. Let’s hope not.

Elsewhere, as I mentioned, most of Yona’s group are either seriously injured, captured, or both, allowing us to get a good dose of their captor, who has a truly disturbing slasher smile. I hope something bad happens to him, he is not a nice man. As for Yona, she’s pushing herself so hard she almost collapses, which is a shame, as it means she misses Hak murmuring some very important words to her. (There’s also a side story showing how few real friends she had as a child – two is the correct answer – and again you marvel how how much she’s been forced to change, and how she’s blossomed as a result. and just in case you worried there was no humor in this volume, there’s a hilarious side story where Gija, Sinha, and Yona all eat a mystery candy and turn violent. Yona, of course, being the reason this is so funny.

The best volumes make you want to read the next one right away, and that’s definitely the case here. Read it now.

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