My review of the various fall anime continue yet again with a mid-season review of Yona of the Dawn.
Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn)
Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn) was one of my earlier favorites from the beginning of the fall season, and halfway through its run, it has not disappointed!
After the Kingdom of Kouka is overthrown, Yona, the last remaining heir to the kingdom, escapes with childhood friend and general, Hak, who is devoted to protecting Princess Yona. To take back the kingdom, Yona and Hak set out on a quest to assemble the legendary dragon warriors.
After the first few episodes of the series provided ample exposition and backstory, the series shifts focus on the main plot point driving the story: the quest to unite the dragon warriors.
Generally, historical/fantasy epics is one of my favorite genres, and if is unfortunately lacking in quality anime, so finally watching a series that uses the epic quest format, without being a shounen, is just fantastic!
One aspect that stands out is the pacing. Akatsuki no Yona's pacing might seem slow to some, but to me, the slow methodical pacing provides the story and characters ample time to develop, and it series never feels rushed, which is a rarity today. Another aspect that stands out is the tone. Being based on a shoujo manga, Akatsuki no Yona contains some of the tropes and designs from the genre, yet it never feels like it is excluding any audience. It has the cute and funny moments, but it will also have the serious and dramatic ones, and then a brief action sequence to mix things up. Even though it might not excel at any one thing, the overall blend of the various tones and content allows the series to appeal to a wide audience, as well as tell an engaging story. However, as expected, the reverse-harem element is present with each of the male characters showing a degree of affection towards Yona, but the interactions often provide good comedy and never hinder the overall story.
My only minor issue with the series is that the humor can undermine some of the more serious moments at times during the early episodes; however, the humor blends more organically in recent episodes.
Being voiced by my favorite voice actress, Chiwa Saitō, Yona is a very fun and likable character. Unlike most royalty characters that are thrown out of their life of luxury and bliss, Yona does not instantly turn into a mankilling bad*ss, which is refreshing. Thus far, she is still weak and does not refuse help from others, but rather she is progressing in a believable manner. As for the other characters, Hak is a perfect example of the "overly protective knight" done right. So far, each of the dragons that have been introduced have an interesting backstory, with the Blue Dragon's arc being particularly exceptional with several effective dramatic and emotional moments.
Studio Pierrot, the studio behind Tokyo Ghoul, Korra season 2, and Baby Steps, gives the series surprisingly high quality animation for a shoujo anime. The background art is top notch and the fluidity of the animation is above average. Also, the bishounen character designs are executed surprisingly well considering how most other historical shoujo anime feature painfully dull and annoying designs.
14 episodes into its 24 episode run, Akatsuki no Yona is one of the standout anime of the season thanks to its wide variety of content, engaging story, and fun characters.
Watch if you like: Fantasy, Adventure, Shoujo, Historical,
Fall Anime Review: Part 1
Fall Anime Review: Part 2
The Fruit of Grisaia
In Search of the Lost Future
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis
Wolf Girl and Black Prince
Yuki Yuna is a Hero
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