Monday, February 22, 2016

Fair Shake Review: Yona of the Dawn

Yona of the Dawn
(Genre: Fantasy, Action, Romance)

Imagine that you're a young girl who has been in love with a childhood friend for years and as a sixteenth birthday gift, that crush ends up killing your beloved father. Also, your deceased dad was the ruler of a kingdom that your crush plans on becoming king of. Oh yea! plus after the coup d'etat and escaping your lover turned murderer, you find out you're the reincarnation of the Dragon King that legendarily founded said kingdom. That premise is what got me interested in checking out this series, but there was something I found out that would make watching this different: the first half was subtitled only and the second half was dubbed.

Yona of the Dawn is a fantasy show that is set in a slightly grounded past with castles, clans, and a few myths and legends that most don't believe until they've seen them. Yona, the crimson haired princess, grew up sheltered & pampered and suddenly cast out of the castle along with her childhood bodyguard, Hak. This is all due to her cousin, Su-won, who she developed feelings for over the years. Su-won, despite his kindhearted nature, was the one who killed King Il in order to take over the Kohka kingdom. Since Yona witnessed the act, this challenges her feelings for Suwon who claimed to do for the good of Kohka before she escapes the castle.

Outside of the comfort of her former home, she learns of the ills of her people and how her father's pacifist politics allowed much of it to occur. Along with Hak, she becomes determined to take action to correct her father's effects on the kingdom. Yet, as a naive girl, she runs into an oracle who informs her that there are four dragon avatars across the kingdom who will aid her as she's the Crimson Dragon King of legend. This journey to find the four dragons is what this show chronicles, but where it also ends. Meaning this show cliff hangs with what Glass Reflection would refer to as the "Read the Manga" ending.

Although I wish the show would have continued, what it presents was very enjoyable. The action was pretty standard and the humor was timed very well. The characters in the show are developed fairly well, if not just their relationship with Yona. The obvious childhood romance you get between Yona and Hak is naturally placed, as much of the time they make fun of each other like true friends. The White Dragon, Ki-ja, is the proper, proud-to-serve type which plays well against the Green Dragon's, Jae-ha, flirtatious, free spirited demeanor. Then the other archetypes come from the Blue Dragon, Shin-ha, as the sweet, but intimidating mold and Yun "Boy Genius" as the sassy caretaker. The time spent gathering each of these characters into the plot is quite enjoyable as Yona gains more resolve to effectively help the people in the kingdom. 

The reason I wish it continued, though, comes from a subplot episode that focuses on what Su-won is doing as the new king of Kohka. Through that one episode in the second half of the series and the few moments peppered throughout the rest of it, we see what his true intentions are for the kingdom's future. It's an extremely intriguing story line to go into depth of, and how it connects to Yona's adventure would be fun to explore. Especially since we learn the next major phase is about to begin, soon after Yona's anti-climatic recruitment of the Yellow Dragon, Zeno.

This show kept me quite entertained throughout, and if you enjoy a simple action show set in a slight fantasy setting, I can recommend this show. It doesn't have too many faults in mind, it just takes getting used to the dub if you switch at the halfway mark. The dub isn't bad at all, and the soundtrack is also well done with a mix of traditional Japanese music to fit the time period and current music. The animation is up to par with current shows of this nature, but don't expect the super fluid fights scenes of the likes of One Punch Man or The Asterisk War. On I have rated this a 9, since the story was rather solid, yet hindered by ending when much more story could be told. In the current economy, I understand why more hasn't been animated though. This may be the dawn of me picking up manga again...

A few things in relation:
Jaeha, Elegy of Moonlight (Example of soundtrack's mixed styles)
Watch the series subbed (From Funimation's YouTube)
Check out InuYasha (For another Action/Romance set in the past)
Check out Claymore (For more straight up Action set in some type of past)
My Anime List

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