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. Translated by JN Productions, Adapted by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane.
This volume of Yona of the Dawn is a return to the beginning in many ways. It opens with an extended flashback showing the trio of Yona, Hak and Su-Won as children, sneaking out against orders to see what the town looks like, which ends up turning into a disaster after Yona is kidnapped almost immediately. It’s a terrific sequence, showing off the strong friendship that the three had, as well as showing that Hak and Su-Won each are jealous of the qualities they see in each other. And of course it’s tragic because of what came later, something that is still affecting both Yona and Hak deeply, as we see later on. He has nightmares about Yona, both in regards to Su-Won’s betrayal and also her becoming a warrior rather than a princess. And Yona is feeling the same thing, only she knows what side she’s going to choose going forward.
Yona and company are moving north, arriving in a village that is much the same as the fire tribe one they left, but is much better off due to developments in their grain. This excites Yun so much that he’s willing to do a festival dance in order to get more information about it – or at least have Yona do it, as Yun can’t dance at all. Hak notes that Yona has danced in the past, but it’s been rather awkward and amusing more than anything else. That changes here when Yona uses the dance to show what she’s become and where she’s headed, in a performance that makes everyone’s jaw drop, including Hak’s. For shippers, there’s a giant pile of Hak being in love with Yona here, but he’s fighting back against too many things, including Yona being mostly oblivious, for it to go anywhere. But man, the burning unsaid passion in this book is amazing.
Rest assured the book is also filled with humor – one two-page section had me laughing out loud just from the use of ‘pondering’ and ‘lounge’ as comedic weapons. A lot of this comes from Jaeha, who has become my favorite non-Yona character (those who recall my I Hate You More Than Anyone reviews may guess why – he’s basically Honjo as a superhero. He also knows that Hak/Yona is the endgame, which grates on him a bit – but not enough to stop him giving Hak some good, if needling, advice. That said, I don’t think anything more is going to be happening anytime soon. I do wonder if we’ll be seeing another female cast member soon – this volume has them go to a village with a lot of young women who remind us that Yona is walking around with a bunch of hunky guys, and some female friendships would, I think, do her good and make her a bit less serious.
To sum up, this remains one of the best Shojo Beat titles being released by now, and an essential purchase. Buy it, you’ll love it.