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.
It can be very hard to stop something once it’s gotten started, and when that something is “war”, it becomes ten times as hard. At the end of the last volume I thought we’d get a long section of Yona and Su-Won debating the subject, but no, Su-Won knows that now is not the time to have Yona whisper sweet words of peace in his ear. Instead we get some very clever tactical maneuvering on both sides, relying on Hak’s reputation with the Wind tribe, Yona’s ability to make Tae-Jun do anything she says (though at least there is a bit of “it’s not because I like you or anything” to the logic), and Su-Won figuring BOTH of these things out and making his own move to ensure that yes, there is going to be a war with a lot of dead people. Because sometimes that’s how you king, especially given the previous king.
The cliffhanger implies that the next volume may be different, but this volume reminded me how good the author is at maneuvering things so that expected events do not take place, or go in different directions. It’s a good skill to have, especially as the reader does not feel manipulated. Despite negotiating with Ogi, the meeting with Su-Won does not happen, and instead we get retainer Min-Su, who sympathizes heavily with Yona but also serves the King, and explains that this war can only end in a bloody battle. And yet we don’t get that battle here either, though we come close. (We also don’t get much of Kouren, and I hope that there is some focus on her soon.) As ever, Yona is trying to solve things by being an idealist who can back her ideals up, sometimes with violence, but here through negotiating attempts. It’s hard to negotiate when the other side avoids you, though…that said, more and more people are discovering she is alive.
As you would expect, there’s not really a lot of humor in this book, although the reaction to Jaeha’s leg may be the high point there. This also brings me to Mizari, who is probably the most fascinating part of this book. Let’s face it, it’s rare that ‘the guy with the slasher smile who’s clearly not all there’ gets deep character development. He’s fascinated with the dragon warrior captives (this is why we see Jaeha’s leg), and when he sees the soldiers that are going against Su-Won’s forces, he kills one just because he realizes how weak they are. His logic – he would have died immediately on the battlefield anyway – is twisted but also shows that he too is thinking about how this war is going to go for Kouren’s side. Badly. And that’s why he wants the power of the Dragon Warriors, because he wants to protect her. I don’t like Mizari as a person, but as a character he’s fantastic.
The cliffhanger implies we’ll finally be getting the confrontation that we didn’t get this time, but honestly I suspect that despite all of Yona and Hak’s maneuvering that we’re going to end up going to war anyway. In the meantime, please keep reading one of the best shoujo series out there.