Akatsuki no Yona: Shoujo that Wasn’t Too Shoujo

akatsuki-no-yona-episode-5-29Omg guys I finally decided to watch a new show! I stumbled upon it pretty much by accident on the magical place called Youtube. I watched the first episode expecting it to be a pretty standard shoujo, but since I hadn’t watched one in a while and I’m getting into trouble reading too many paranormal romance novels (Josh says they give me unrealistic expectations for our relationship XD) I decided why the heck not. In all seriousness though is it SO wrong that I want a super sexy vampire/demon/werewolf/angel to sweep me off my feet and tell me I’m his soulmate and that we were bound to be together forever and that I was secretly adopted and I’m also a vampire/demon/werewolf/angel…ok maybe he’s right. Ahem. Anyway on to the review!

SPOILER ALERT. There are definitely spoilers in this review, proceed with caution. 

So I searched the show up on MAL and hey it actually has really good ratings! Here’s a summary for you before I launch into my full review.

Akatsuki no Yona centers around the princess of the Kingdom of Kouka, Yona. Despite her father’s disapproval, she’s in love with and plans to marry her cousin, Soo-won. However, her world gets turned upside down on her 16th birthday, and she is forced to flee from the palace. Now, with her friend and bodyguard Hak, Yona must set out on a journey to find out and fulfill her destiny.

This show was definitely not what I expected. It sounds super generic shoujo–and in a lot of respects it totally was–but at the same time the main character actually got over her whiny, pathetic phase really fast and turned into an active female protagonist. She has a weird savior complex, but more about that later. Yona goes from princess to wandering exile within the first few episodes and she totally rolls with it after getting over a depressive slump (cut the girl some slack she kind of just watched her dad get murdered by the guy she thought she was in love with…awkward), somewhat incompetently at first, but eventually she puts in enough work and performs heroic deeds in her own right.

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Seriously guys. Scissors are for hair. Axes are for trees.

This would be better if her motivation wasn’t a weird doormat-ish obsession with not letting anyone get hurt for her. She’s got chronic “gotta protect everyone” syndrome. This is usually kind of an issue for me, but she actually does something about it. The girl is so determined to learn how to use a bow and arrow that she stays up all night practicing until her hands bleed. I know that archery is totally passé since The Hunger Games, but seriously that’s some dedication. She doesn’t want to run around being a healer–she wants to take out those who would want her and the ones she loves dead (I mean people think she’s dead anyway, but you get the point).

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I can’t even get myself out of bed to pee that late at night…

It isn’t just the archery though, this girl is a serious masochist self-sacrificer. She climbs along this impossible path to collect a herb to prove herself and then goes on to get herself captured by slave traders in order to free all the girls they’ve captured. Sometimes things like this made me feel like the whole show was just an elaborate way to display what a kickass protag Yona was. I mean writers do this all the time–it’s totally a thing. Although no doubt it did get kind of grating at times when she kept repeating how she needed to save everyone and wouldn’t let people get hurt on her account blah, blah, blah.

The characters and dynamic plot events were the saving of this show for me. Notice the specification “plot events”. I can sort of see how the show is building up to a plot for a second season, but as of now I have absolutely no idea what the main story is really supposed to be. Yona is running around trying to find these four super-powerful dragons, but I think it’s unclear, even to her, what she plans to do with them once she actually finds them. Maybe I’m just missing something, but the show was a lot of running around dealing with minor conflicts and not actually accomplishing much.

Some of the characters were pretty awesome–I enjoyed how each of the dragons actually had a well-developed backstory instead of just random hot guys showing up out of nowhere to rip open shirts and perform acts of derring-do. (I mean there was of course some of that, but it didn’t consume the show.) AnY spends a few episodes on each of them, introducing them and how they interact with their community and the rest of the motley crew. This I actually appreciated. It’s nice when a show or story takes the time to flesh out their characters–it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. However, one thing that was weird for me was the antagonist.

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Soo-won was a really weird villain for me. On one hand, he kind of murders the king in cold blood, but then on the other, he’s kind of a competent ruler, but pretends not to be a competent ruler???? I didn’t really buy the whole weird facade thing the show tried to enact. Maybe it makes more sense in the second season, but for now, color me completely unconvinced. His mood and personality swings were so intense that I couldn’t rely on him for any consistency in behavior. Sure, it was nice that they didn’t just make him this power-hungry evil guy, but I think they could have been a little more realistic with his personality flip-flops.

But that’s enough about serious things. Can we just stop for a second at the end here and talk about how gorgeous Hak is? Sure I hate his name, but omg. I think I just have a thing for tall dark-haired guys with blue eyes (hey Josh maybe you should find a way to make your eyes blue and shave your stupid beard :p). STOP JUDGING ME. He’s beautiful.

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3 responses to “Akatsuki no Yona: Shoujo that Wasn’t Too Shoujo

  1. Archery will always be in fashion, Rebecca!

    Yona’s character development was a selling point for me but I felt the middle lagged a lot. Not that I minded the dragons, who were pretty to look at if nothing else, but I also felt dissatisfied by the lack of direction of the anime.

    Soo Won is a weird guy but may actually be more suited to ruling the kingdom instead of Yona, who’s clearly not ready. It’s much more interesting to have a morally ambiguous guy as an antagonist yes?

    However, Hak = Best Guy

  2. Pingback: Humanity is Screwed: Dystopian Visions in Psycho-Pass and Shin Sekai Yori | Chromatic Aberration Everywhere·

  3. AnY is not th typical shoujo but still pretty much a shoujo. And it isn’t only the overprotective but kinda failing men who fall for her (and Jeaha’s macho BS). It’s the fact those people can’t die even if they bleed non-stop or fall from a high cliff. It’s also the fiery hair and eyes of Yona who stunned a merciless man long enough to give a fatal blow with an arrow several meters away…

    Soo Woon is the only reason actually that I’d watch a S2. He’s intriguing to say the least.

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