First Impression – Akatsuki no Yona

The dawn of another shoujo series.

Part two of the shoujo series this season (overlooking that short one by Sliver Link). I knew I would most likely enjoy Ookami Shoujo since I’ve read that series, but I’m pleasantly surprised with this one too. …I was kind of slow getting episode 1 out there, so this one covers episode 2 as well.

Akatsuki no Yona00003暁のヨナ 00006

Yona had things going for and against her personality-wise in this introduction. Sure, she was cute, but the story definitely made a point about how naive she was and maybe that she was mildly out of touch with the outside world. I mean, her father even said that he’s always given her whatever she’s asked for, so she probably isn’t accustomed to getting things for herself. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that though as a starting point. Plus Yona’s character seemed to have good traits in there too. She was definitely raised a princess, but she also seemed to show a different side to her where she wanted to try archery too. Her love for Soo-won was also pretty understandable too. It wasn’t just because he was good looking or anything really shallow, but they had an actual emotional connection when he helped her get over her mother’s death. So Yona’s character seems reasonably balanced right now and she manages to be likeable.

暁のヨナ 00007

Maybe the story might drag on depending on how quickly she adapts to life outside the palace from here on, and I can’t imagine an entire anime of her like this if this coup didn’t happen. However, she seems to have had changes to her character already. Luckily, she didn’t make things more difficult in the escape for everyone and she seems to have accepted that Soo-won seriously wanted to kill her easily enough. Also, the scenes they show her with her hair cut, she seems like she’s adjusted and even made allies well enough. Hopefully the journey between then and now is a fairly smooth transition.

Yona seemed all for marriage to Soo-won though, and maybe eventually they could have worked something out that didn’t involve murder. Hell, maybe he was planning on that if Yona hadn’t seen the murder happen, since Soo-won didn’t seem to have wanted to involve her in this immidiately. Kind of. He didn’t expect her to be there at least, so the timing of all of this wasn’t just sadism on his part. He seems to have had a grudge against Il, but in all of the interactions, he didn’t seem to have any ill will towards Yona.

Akatsuki no Yona00010Akatsuki no Yona00021

They have the plot set up so that Soo-won might not be that bad of an antagonist as well. Hak said that Soo-won wasn’t normally the kind of person to do this, and he seems like a pretty good judge of character in this series so far. And even in the situation shown thus far, maybe there was some sort of misunderstanding that Il killed his brother. He definitely seemed to have had some sort of guilt (or something) regarding Soo-won, since Il was so adamant about Yona not being able to marry him, but the plot also made a big deal about how Il was a peaceful king and how his brother didn’t seem to have had any ill will about not being king. Maybe some incident happened that only made it seem like murder. Plus that Kye-sook looks like someone who could be secretly manipulating Soo-won into doing this. The hair coving one eye look just screams “cliche shoujo villain”.

Just from the aesthetic and fact that some determined girl is travelling around in some country that looks like somewhere in feudal Asia (Korea maybe, based on the character names?), this reminds me of Fushigi Yuugi a bit. Though already, Yona is SO much more bearable than Miaka. Plus the storyline is totally different, so really, it’s just the setting. Overall, I’m liking this. There’s a surprising amount of violence (though maybe not so surprising, since this IS about the murder of a king causing issues), it kind of looks like Yona will be building a badass harem as the episodes go on, and even better, it looks like she’ll actually be doing things. …Maybe not much, since she just stood there at the end of episode 2, but having her fire one arrow is better than her standing in the background having her harem protect her. I’m not familiar with this manga author’s works in regards to how heroines end up, but hopefully Yona will end up being badass as well. Plus I’m not sure if this was the manga’s narrative or something the anime did on it’s own, but the way the story was shaped at the beginning was kind of interesting. The start with short-haired Yona standing on the cliff with her group and then ending the first two episodes with the continuation of her on the cliff gave the beginning of the story a nice ‘prologue’ feeling to it.

The OP was a little… worrying. It seemed to look and sounds okay in terms of what it did with the character stills and instrumental song, but the fact that there was little to no movement maybe doesn’t say the best things about the budget. After DRAMAtical Murder, I’m a little wary of OP animation that involves little to no animation. …Though the rest of the episodes looked alright, so maybe they were going for a stylistic thing instead of having money issues. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.


University student and the one at Metanorn who's known for wearing glasses. Likes blood, insanity and plot twists, but also plays otome games and adores cute romance anime. It balances out... somehow.
Blinklist BlogMarks Delicious Digg Diigo FaceBook Google MySpace Netvibes Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter

15 Responses to “First Impression – Akatsuki no Yona”

  1. zztop says:

    Just from the aesthetic and fact that some determined girl is travelling around in some country that looks like somewhere in feudal Asia (Korea maybe, based on the character names?)

    I hear the setting’s supposed to be a fantasy mixture of China and Korea.
    The names are Korean, while the buildings and clothes are a cross between Chinese and Goguryeo*-era Korea.

    *Goguryeo was a feudal nation in ancient Korea, before it and all the other nations were united into the Joseon.

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      So basically a K-drama but animated?

    • Kiseki says:

      Thanks! The Korean influence is obvious on the names and dragons, but I never understood why their clothing resembled hanfu over hanbok. Searching “traditional Korean fashion” only leads to pages among pages of the Joeseon dynasty style of hanbok, so knowing that it’s based off the Goguryeo era is incredibly helpful! (I obviously suck shit at Korean history.)

      • Vyzass says:

        So is the clothing and building and the rest of the culture Korean or Chinese? It’s already been a while since I last watch AKatsuki no Yona but I think I remember seeing Chinese meat bun in Akatsuki no Yona? Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

  2. Highway says:

    I loved the first two episodes of this show. Package that up, and you have a great little OVA series. I’m hoping that it stays somewhere near the same quality for the rest of the run. I really enjoyed that second episode: Drama, intrigue, some action, emotion. Things like Min-soo’s sacrifice and Yona’s acknowledgement of it. She really seems to have grown up fast in the space of the night of her 16th birthday.

    I think the OP has quite a lot of impact, with that instrumental track of dramatic music. And I even noticed the BGM during episode two, something that I rarely do, because it was so good and so out of the ordinary. I don’t really mind some pretty static animation if the story is well done around it. Heck, one of my favorite shows is Maria-sama ga Miteru, which is almost animated in a technical sense only (and I just watched Hori-san to Miyamura-kun, which definitely is an OAD with no budget). So if they keep the story compelling, I won’t mind if there’s a lot of mostly still frames.

    This is one of my favorites early in the season.

  3. akagami says:

    I’ve had bad experience with manhwas in general, for some reason they tend to be focused too much on action or are too overly-dramatic for my tastes, that I now cringe whenever I see or hear Korean names in manga/anime. (Huh, I just checked wiki and this is a Japanese manga… huh).

    It does show some promise, I’m hoping it’ll be something like Scrapped Princess with a harem ^^. Plus red hair is awesome~

    I was waiting during the opening scene for just one soldier to look up. But obviously they’re poorly paid grunts and over-worked, too much effort to do anything but stare at their feet =)

  4. zztop says:

    Yona’s music composer, Kunihiko Ryo, is an ethnic Korean born and raised in Japan.

    Under his Korean name, Yang Bang Ean, he’s acheived a level of musical success in South Korea itself.
    One of his composing acheivements is his rendition of Korean folk song Arirang, performed at the 2013 inauguration ceremony of South Korean President Park Geun Hye.

    He also performed his rendition at the handover segment of this year’s Winter Olympics closing ceremony in Sochi, Russia to mark Pyeongchang as the 2018 hosts. Other performers included old pop singer Lee Seung Chul, jazz singer Na Yoon Sun and soprano Jo Soo Mi.(He was playing the piano on stage.)

    • Kiseki says:

      I feel like this particular comment has been copy pasted EVERYWHERE. Not to say that it isn’t informative or interesting, but I’ve seen this word-for-word comment posted to multiple blog entries as well as forums and all of them by, supposedly, different people?

      I’m just a little confused here.

      • Sumairii says:

        Most likely the info is available on some sort of news post and people thought to share it by copy+paste. Nothing new for the internet crowd. 😛

  5. Kyokai says:

    I liked this. But, Soo-won daaaaang daawggg!

  6. Highway says:

    I love the way Yona says “Soo-won”.

  7. skylion says:

    Goodness, I so fell in love with this show from moment one. It has everything I would ever want. Bonus! Chiwa Saito in the lead! She has this and the yuri-LOLi-inu over in Gurgure…

    I love a good proper historically flavored fantasy…

  8. Irenesharda says:

    I really loved this series so far. At first I was thinking it was just going to be some cheap reverse harem shojo fantasy, that they cobbled together. However, I really like the depth they’re going into here. I really like Yona. The way she is as a princess you can tell how spoiled she is and how dependent on others she is, and how the largest thing in her mind is her crush on her older cousin. However, when her world comes crashing down around her, you still really feel for her and the betrayal that she feels.

    Soo-won is not a flat villain, the way he interacts with Yona and Hak suggests a very deep relationship with them so that even the warrior Hak never suspected him. I really like that, since usually the actual romantic lead of the story, which I’m guessing is Hak, is usually jealous and suspicious of the “red-herring-romantic-lead-that-ends-up-being-a villain” at this point. And yet Hak is perfectly okay with Yona and Soo-won being together, in fact he expects it. To have Hak not be romantically-inclined to Yona just yet, and to have him simply be a brother figure and true friend first, was really refreshing.

    And Soo-won is a challenge too, since he seems to be a pawn himself in some way. I don’t know if King Il really killed his father, but if so, it’s a real messed up situation all around. I can’t really blame him for wanting vengeance, though it cost him his friendships and potential love with Yona.

    The music and settings of this series were wonderful and
    the art in this is beautiful. It may not have a giant budget, it may have clunky dialogue and exposition (come on guys, do you really need characters to stand to one side and spout out whole paragraphs of background on a character that we know all characters in within hearing range know already?), but it really takes me back to my Fushigi Yugi days. Though thankfully, Yona is miles better than Miaka. 😛

  9. BlackBriar says:

    Truly a surprise these two episodes became. I really liked them. With a little action element added in, this may be a shoujo series I may actually enjoy since Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii and that well for itself. Yona’s cute and innocent and that makes the impact even greater when her world shatters and the kind of sibling relationship she has with Hak is amusing to watch. Those two sure don’t hold back throwing remarks at each other.

Leave a Reply to Kyokai