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.
As many have noticed, this has gradually become a light novel review site, with the manga that I read generally being reviewed in Manga Bookshelf’s Briefs columns. There are one or two exceptions, though, the most obvious of which is Yona of the dawn, a series I keep finding new things to say about (even though I’m still one volume behind in my reviews). This volume is an excellent example of why I keep coming back to it. There’s really big goofy comedy, as Kyo-Ga is knocked unconscious due to Happy Hungry Bunch antics and essentially becomes a giant comedy prop for a while. There’s romance, as we see in the scene where Yona and Hak take comfort in being each other’s strength. There’s politics, as Keishuk has arrived at the absolute worst time, and we get more of “what is Yona’s goal”. There’s cool action sequences. And there’s intrigue, as the cliffhanger makes you wonder if Ogi is going to be selling Yona out. There’s SO MUCH GOING ON.
Yona of the Dawn sometimes has a Shakespearean feel to it, particularly with everyone being worried about where Yona is and what she’s doing. Su-Won’s position as leader is fairly secure, and yet… everyone assumes that as long as Yona is alive, she can easily lead a rebellion to take over. This is very Richard II/Henry IV stuff here. It does not help that Yona is wandering around the land with a bunch of superheroes/monsters (delete where applicable), who could and have taken out entire armies on their own when at full power. But no one knows what Yona’s real goal is. Well, the reader might have a clue. The highlight of the volume is Yona’s big speech where she talks about how everyone is expecting her to get revenge for the death of her father, and… she doesn’t have to? She doesn’t have to forgive Su-Won, and won’t, but she can simply go around doing good things? Sadly, I suspect forces will continue to stop her doing that.
We also get a glimpse of Kyo-Ga and Tae-Jun’s mother here, and I enjoyed her showing off another classic comedy stereotype, the regal woman with the fan over her face who (almost) never speaks… until she does, as her fury at how Keishuk treats her son forces her to complete entire sentences, to the surprise of her attendants. She’s a very different kind of powerful woman from Yona, and doesn’t exactly clash with her, but she does worry that Yona is not doing what the traditional woman should. Putting herself in danger every day, after all, is dangerous. But this is what Yona has chosen to do, and she’s not backing down now. (Yona in general is filled with women wielding power in very different and varied ways, and I really appreciate that. This is not to say that Yona is not vulnerable, but for the most part that’s a side of herself that she tries to show only to Hak.
As you can see, there are always new things to discover about one of the best shoujo manga currently being published in English. Always a must-read.