Adventures in Anime #9: Yona of the Dawn

September 7, 2021

 


It's time for more Adventures in Anime! My best friend Rachel & I team up for this collaboration where we pick out an anime, watch it together and then answer a series of questions about it for the blog. I was so excited for this particular edition, as we're featuring one of my all-time favorites: Yona of the Dawn. Macky and I had watched this one on a whim a couple of years ago, fell head over heels in love with it after one episode and immediately proceeded to watch the entire series in a day! Rachel and I revisited it together this summer, and it was an absolute delight to reconfirm that this show is indeed worthy of favorite status (and a second season, which I will never ever ever stop saying until it happens).

Summary:
 Yona, the princess of the kingdom of Kouka, has grown up sheltered within the walls of the castle. Her life is upended on the night of her 16th birthday, and Yona winds up fleeing for her life aided only by her loyal bodyguard, General Hak. Life outside the castle walls begins with uncertainty, but Yona and Hak soon find themselves setting out on a journey together to find and request aid from four legendary dragons. 

Brief Thoughts: I love this anime so much! Everything about it - the storytelling, the world, the lore, the characters - comes together to create such a beautiful, compelling tale. It certainly helps that the plot includes my favorite story elements of journeying and gathering together a group who become like a family of sorts. But I genuinely also just loved the way it follows Yona from the moment where the foundations of her world are torn apart up until she demonstrates the courage, heart and strength to rise up and embrace her new destiny. It was impossible not to fall in love with this one all over again, and I'm still upset that the anime only has one season (though the manga continues on past where it ends and I'm definitely going to get caught up)!

Favorite Character(s): I have a soft spot for so many of the characters! I enjoy Ik-Su, the absentminded, clumsy priest who lives in isolation praying to the gods; Gi-gan, the older lady pirate captain who leads a rebellion against a corrupt politician; Zeno and Gija, two of the dragons they meet along the journey. I absolutely love Shin-Ah, the quiet dragon who grew up in isolation; Yun, the self-proclaimed handsome boy genius who takes care of the group; Jae-Ha, the roguish dragon determined to live life on his own terms. But, of course, my two absolute favorites will have to be the ones we were with from the very beginning - Hak and Yona. Hak, nicknamed the Lightning Beast, was both General and bodyguard to Yona, and continues to accompany her on her journey because of his deep loyalty, protectiveness and strong feelings for his childhood friend. He's also incredibly kind and understanding of others, though he does like to tease them a fair bit as well. (He's quite swoon-worthy, I must say!) And then, of course, there's Yona, who starts out quite naive and with a limited view of her world, but whose gentle nature, kind heart and quiet determination serves her again and again as she learns to defend herself and others and starts to really understand the see the state of her kingdom by interacting with more people on her journey.

Favorite Episode(s): If I were really forced to pick just one episode, I'm actually going to go with Episode 19: The Senjuso Test! Basically, Yona has to face a test in order to prove herself as a useful ally to the pirates. (I'm also a fan of Episode 6: Red Hair, where Yona demonstrates courage in defense of Hak, and Episode 24: From Now On, which ends the series and has some of my favorite moments!)

Favorite Scene(s): Do I really only have to pick one? This is going to be very hard! There's a scene from Yona and Hak's childhood that I love where you first see him being very protective of (and clearly having strong feelings for her). And there's a scene where Hak is teaching Yona how to use a bow and arrow. There's also a Yona and Hak scene in the last episode that had me screaming because it gave me such strong fangirl feels. But two of my favorite moments are in Episode 22 (when Yona defiantly fires an arrow) and Episode 23 (when Yona tells Hak that she has to leave and wants him with her and the others also show up to reinforce their commitment to journeying with her). 

Favorite Quote(s): "There is strength in words. Sometimes, they become words of power."

Favorite Setting: If I'm being completely honest, it's most enjoyable to be hanging out with everyone in the forest while they're journeying. (I did really like the time they spent at Ik-Su's home though, as it seemed like a reprieve from everything stressful!)

Favorite Kiss: I'm still bitter there's no proper kiss scene but I absolutely love when Hak kisses Yona's forehead in the very last episode. (It's fairly obvious who I ship, and I'm not even sorry for mentioning them so much.)

Have you watched Yona of the Dawn?

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