Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 25

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.

Yona of the Dawn fits into a lot of genres. First, obviously, there’s shoujo manga, and the tropes of a young woman surrounded by good-looking men. There’s trying to save the kingdom fantasy stuff, with a bit of revenge fantasy mixed in, although as we see in this volume, revenge doesn’t really play into it as much as disappointment. Lately we’ve had military fantasy, with the entire plot of the last few books being “can we stop the inevitable war?”. But the last couple of chapters of this volume also bring home another genre that this series falls under: Yona is walking around with a bunch of superheroes, each of whom are using their powers to protect her and help other people. They don’t wear capes, but it otherwise checks out, and really gets hammered home in the last few pages of this book, where Yona’s “can’t we talk this out” plea is met by a bunch of arrows… that fail to hit her. Which, good, because Yona of the Dead is not a genre I want to see.

Yona’s talk with Su-won goes about how you’d expect, though I was very pleased to see Riri step in to defend her and remind everyone around them what Yona has been doing the last few years. (I admit I’ve lost track of the timeline, how long as Yona been on the run now?) The main problem here are the religious fanatics, who, as with almost all religious fanatics in manga/anime, turn out to be power-hungry villains. Killing off Kouren’s allies one by one, their goal is war by any means necessary. Fortunately, though they’re still grievously injured, the dragon warriors are able to step in and help to drive them back, even at the cost of their remaining stamina. And, as always with this series, we see whether idealism like Yona’s or Tao’s – even Tao finds herself wavering after seeing what the priests have been doing – can hold up under pressure.

There are some wonderful scenes interspersed throughout this volume, but my favorite may be Kouren pointing out, as I did, that Yona is running around with a bunch of superheroes at her command – why isn’t she simply taking out Su-Won by brute strength? Yona responds that “they aren’t tools to satisfy my personal grudges”, which is a great moment (though it also amuses me, as I’m pretty sure by now all of them would be very happy to help Yona do exactly that). As for the encounter with Su-Won, once again it’s not quite as earth-shattering as their past would expect, but she does learn that his pragmatism and her idealism are still at loggerheads, and that reconciliation is not happening anytime soon. As I said earlier, Yona could easily slide into revenge fantasy, but Yona doesn’t hate Su-Won enough for that to work.

As for the next volume, well, Yona isn’t full of arrows, so that’s good. We’ll see if she can stop the war, though. In the meantime, this is a shoujo manga, but it’s also so many other things.

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  1. Back when this first started coming out, I was reading (and feeling quite let down by) Dawn of the Arcana. So here was this other fantasy shoujo series with a red-haired protagonist and ‘of the” “dawn” in the title and I had zero interest in getting it. But reading your posts on how consistently great this series is and that it’s by the author of NG Life has made me reconsider. I got and read NG Life way back in the day as it was coming out and remember really loving it. I’m going to have to pull out my books and reread them, and if they still hold up, that’s another big check for Yona.

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