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.
In general, I’m always a bit wary of ‘chosen one’ narratives, which Yona of the Dawn is shaping up into being. The difficulty is striking a balance between following the chosen one because you know they will be a good person who can change the world, and following the chosen one out of a literal compulsion you can’t control that draws you to them. Yona of the Dawn tries to have this both ways, and I like that the new Dragon, Jaeha, is reluctant to follow his supposed destiny, being very happy being what he is, which is a showboating, girl-loving pirate with the classic Hana to Yume “sleepy eyes”. Of course, this is still a shoujo manga, and thus the cliffhanger has him running into Yona and immediately his heart skips a beat, because of course it does – if you’re going to write romance cliches, do them properly.
Meanwhile, as predicted, the Blue Dragon decides to come with them, and even gets named by Yona, who is, of course, still the Chosen One but balances this out by being caring and loving and sweet and nice, etc. Names turn out to be pretty important in this book, as the male cast who aren’t Hak gradually start to call Yona by her first name. Hak is an exception, though, and this is the best scene in the volume, as Yona tells him the reasons that she wants him to still call her “your highness” and treat her as royalty. It’s so that they don’t forget her father or what he did. This is immediately followed up with the heartbreaking revelation that most people in the country seem to regard the late King with contempt as a terrible King, much to Yona’s distress. (In reality, putting the distance between her and Hak may be authorial fiat – let’s face it, this is a reverse harem manga with an obvious endgame, and it’s best to delay it as much as possible.)
Most of this volume is, of course, the standard quest, as Yona and company continue wandering the land hunting for Dragon Warriors. This means that they have to stop and fight injustice whenever they can, of course, even if they’re supposed to keep a low profile (Yona’s red hair really does not help with stealth missions). The humor in this book is fairly predictable, mostly revolving around Hak’s inability to practice what he preaches, and everyone (including Yona) seeming to think that he spent time in a brothel, much to his frustration. Jaeha looks like an excellent addition to the cast, balancing nicely with the other guys’ personalities. This of course assumes that he does join the main cast, and I suspect the next volume will show us Yona trying to convince him of the righteousness of her cause.
In the end, this is another top-notch volume of Yona of the Dawn, which continues to be one of Shojo Beat’s best series.