Yona of the Dawn – Season 2

Yona of the Dawn – Season 2

IMG_1725.PNGOn her sixteenth birthday, the cheerful Princess Yona intended to tell her doting father of her love for her childhood companion Su-won, but her life was turned upside down after witnessing the man she loves assassinating her father. Heartbroken by a painful betrayal, Yona flees the palace with her loyal servant, Hak. Now, she will take up the sword and the bow on a quest to gain new allies and protect her beloved people.

Yona’s transformation from pampered princess into kick-ass heroine is well underway as she undergoes trials and tribulations and meets up with more of her dragon protectors and experiences the kingdom that she technically rules, but has never thought to venture into until now. She is seeing things for what they are – not the idealistic kingdom she believed to be growing up in – and this has hardened her heart, her hands and her resolve as she tries to save her kingdom (as reflected by the edgy, more noticeably upbeat opening track, which has replaced season one’s traditional-sounding, strings-heavy opening).

IMG_1636.PNGYona of the Dawn started slowly, but season two starts at a brisker pace. It’s used season one to establish its foundations and introduce its main characters and set relationships, and now it’s plunging full steam ahead with some really exciting story elements that are weaving themselves together to be a part of something bigger – Yona’s personal journey to become the kind of monarch that the kingdom really needs.

I am pleased to see that so much development has gone into Yona’s character. When I first began watching, I thought she was going to be one of those reverse-harem leads that hides behind her group of powerful bishounen, making them do everything for her whilst alternating between being whiny and sad (I admit, early episodes of Neo Angelique Abyss may have coloured my judgement, somewhat). This is not the case with Yona. In fact, she makes an active effort to push away that kind of heroine archetype, and even in the first series you can see her trying to pull her own weight (indicated by her cutting all her hair off – the go-to symbolic act to indicate feminine metamorphosis). She learns to sleep rough, hunt and defend herself with bows and arrows. It’s great that we get to see her develop and undergo hardships, as female protagonists in this type of anime more often than not begin with substantial magical power or strength. Yona works for her independence and understands that she must become stronger if she ever wants to confront the usurper Soo-won who currently sits on her father’s throne.

IMG_1729.PNGI think what makes this anime so popular it that it has so many different aspects to it. It can be both funny and serious, action-packed, cute, thought-provoking and compassionate. It has attitude and excitement coupled with some great visuals and characters. The soundtrack has gone from ‘just okay’ to ‘infectiously catchy’, becoming more upbeat and contemporary. It addresses a variety of issues that keeps things interesting and reminds the viewer what a detailed world is being created around the protagonist: war, politics, romance, death, cruelty and poverty – the list goes on.

IMG_1731.PNGSometimes, when a manga gets made into an anime, it fails to become a stand-alone production. Some make little to no sense, playing under the assumption that they can limit character development because viewers are already familiar with the manga, which is a dangerous trap to fall into. Yona of the Dawn makes no assumptions, and so every viewer, whether they approach this anime with fresh eyes or not, get the full treatment. Though it took a little time to establish itself, it has built a great story and great characters from the very beginning – and the result is fantastic.

IMG_1727.PNGThis anime is a refreshing addition to the shoujo genre, and though it is set in a feudal environment, its portrayal of strong women overcoming adversity is very contemporary. The two aspects work together very well here, and a perfect balance is struck within the increasing cast of characters. I look forward to watching the rest of Yona’s journey.