Walking Dead fans can attest that sometimes things have to go slow for a while before they can really kick into high gear. That isn't the case with Yona of the Dawn which is part of the reason why it didn't get a higher score. It never really felt like it was trying to achieve much action wise which is so disappointing because the characters and powers are very interesting. There are going to be some spoilers but I'm going to avoid major spoilers, and if I do use major spoilers they'll be marked as spoilers, so if you don't want to go know anything going in it's best to avoid this.
The reason I compare it to the Walking Dead is because their plots are quite similar. Both main characters are living a happy life when they're suddenly thrust into a situation and world they no longer understand and are forced to slowly but surely evolve into something more dangerous in order to survive this new world they find themselves in. Yeah that's pretty vague and a lot of stories share that same premise but these two are the best ones I can think of that both take their times building up to the action that comes. However, Walking Dead goes more for the shocking and twisting conclusion while Yona goes for the as planned resolution. Let's get right into dissecting it shall we.
Princess Yona "no last name" is said to be the most beautiful girl in all Kouka Kingdom. She is also the only person in the kingdom with gorgeous red hair that is said to shine like the rising sun, aka the red of dawn. After losing her father the king to regicide, Yona is forced to flee the kingdom with one of her only two childhood friends Son Hak of the wind tribe or Hak for short. Hak promises to protect Yona as she vows revenge on the one who killed her father and to reclaim the kingdom that is rightfully hers as the king's only heir. At the start of her journey she hears a tale of an old and revered king that once had four dragons under his command.
King Hiryuu was a God who had descended to Earth in order to fight against humans who had become so corrupted and full of evil that they had turned their backs on their God. After Hiryuu's death each of the dragons went their own separate ways to live out their lives. Each dragon would reincarnate as different people over and over again until the day Hiryuu needed them once again.
Yona decides to go on a quest to enlist the help of these dragons. Each one living in their own circumstances and enlisting each one comes with it's own responsibilities.
Characters: Spoilers Unavoidable
The princess is your traditional sheltered girl. The king had a serious aversion to weapons only wishing for there to be peace but with great cost to his kingdom. Yona desires the strength to survive and fight on her own so that her naivete and immaturity won't get anyone killed, especially her loyal bodyguard Hak. Previously she was just an innocent girl who loved her cousin Soo-Won very much and wished to be with him
until he went all psycho killer on her dad.
She has no experience with weapons and needs for Hak to keep her safe. She works hard to improve her skills in order to hold her own. Her go to weapon is the bow and arrow but also trains in sword fighting. She has the eyes of a beast capable of intimidating any opponent.
Hak is the next in line to become the general of the Wind Tribe. Hak is a powerhouse who carries around a weapon called the Hsu Quandao which is a long spear with a long blade attached to the end of it. He is known throughout the lands as the Thunder Beast due to his immense strength and great skill in spear fighting..
Hak, Soo-Won and Yona played together as children and he was deeply hurt by Soo-Won's betrayal.
He held fond feelings for the previous king whose kind heart he grew to respect. Hak follows Yona protecting her on her journey as he struggles to deal with the feelings he has growing for her. In his eyes she still remains the princess of Kouka and forever out of his grasp.
Current king of Kouka and main antagonist. His father was a great war general who many believed should have been the rightful king over Emperor IL Yona's father.
Many believe Emperor IL had his brother murdered in order to keep the peace because his brother was extremely war minded.
Though Soo-Won appears to be a sweet and fragile young man he holds a dark secret behind his eye.
Yoon is your traditional Bishonen (pretty boy) who is pretty useless in a fight. His specialty is healing and he wishes to someday become a doctor.
He is the first one she meets on their quest and he stays with a ditzy priest who tells Yona of the tale of King Hiryuu and the four dragons.
As a child Yoon lives a hard life and is now wanting nothing more than to learn as much as he possibly can about everything he can so that he'll never have to return to that situation. He is also proficient in cooking and making fireworks. He is the straight man of the group succumbing to the antics of the rest.
The Hakuryuu or the white dragon. He wields the white dragon's claw. HIs right hand is incredible strong and durable. He shares Yona's immaturity and naivete in most aspects of life since he was sheltered for most of it. However he is very proficient in battle having kept his village safe from harm.
Gika is the first dragon to meet Yona and almost instantly the dragon's blood in his body reacts to her and desires to be by her side. He devotes his life to her almost immediately falling for her. He lived in the lap of luxury in a village hidden away from civilization. He was waited on hand and foot so he is very naive about the ways of the world.
The Seiryuu or the blue dragon. He wields the amber eyes of the blue dragon. One look into his eyes and the foe is completely paralyzed. It's unknown whether or not the paralysis ends but it has been known to be deadly. He wears the mask to protect his companions. He is a man of few words but has a huge heart and deadly sword skills. Along with paralyzing power the dragon's eyes grants him the ability to see much further away than any human making him able to see any hostiles long before they see him. and when they do see him it's already too late.
He was feared in his village. He and his guardian Ao were forced to live in poverty only surviving off of keeping the town safe from those who would do it harm and looting money off of their victims. Ao was the previous blue dragon and was charged with raising the next generation however as Shin-Ah aged Ao lost his eyes. The name Shin-Ah meaning Moonlight was given to him by Yona.
Adorable animal companion. He travels everywhere with Shin-Ah
named after Shin-Ah's deceased guardian
The Ryokuryuu or the green dragon. He wields the right leg of the green dragon, it allows him to jump high and for a time glide through the air as if he were flying. As you can see from the earlier picture the dragons don't have wings so the legs would have to be the next best thing in this situation. He also has trained for a long time to get great accuracy with his blade throwing greatly assisting his long range fighting while his incredibly strong right leg bolsters his short range.
Jae-Ha's only dream was to forgo this destiny that was placed upon him due to his dragon's blood and live a life of his own choosing. He lived his life as a pirate thanks to the captain who took him in.
Jae-ha is a bit of a lady's man and thinks a little too highly of himself but he always comes through when he's needed.
The Ouryuu or the yellow dragon. Not much is known about him other than that he is a wanderer. He has the scales of the yellow dragon and it makes him more durable and stronger than a normal person.
Despite being the last to show up he is actually the first dragon to follow Yona having been secretly following her from a distance since she left the castle. He is the first to ask what exactly are her plans when it comes to reclaiming her kingdom.
He seems to be fairly laid back and calm, although he doesn't seem to have any cooking skills.
I don't know if they've fixed this or not but I know it got better as the season went on. In the beginning they had a bit of a hiccup in the audio department; the music was so loud that you could barely hear what the characters were saying, now mind you I don't understand Japanese so I wouldn't understand what they were saying in the first place but it was still kind of frustrating. It really threw off the flow of the show. It would be like if you're listening to music but you can barely hear the singer because the band is just so loud it's swallowing up the vocals. It seemed to be resolved about 6 or 7 episodes in however so it's not a long lasting concern.
The voice actors fit exactly how you feel they seem like they should. Yona sounds a bit on the whiny sound from time to time but otherwise no complaints there . The beginning and ending songs aren't anything extremely impressive but they do have a nice tone to them. Someone made a comment and I saw it a couple times but it's thought that the show might be using Korean names or set in a Korean location. It seems like it because I don't hear a lot of traditional phrases that one might hear in a normal anime. Especially with how Yona speaks of her father. I thought maybe it was an older fashioned Japanese but I've also seen a lot of Japanese shows set in older times and it's the first I've heard that word.
This isn't an action anime, it's a fantasy adventure anime. You're not going to see anyone fighting a Titan or yelling to get stronger. This means that most of the time is spent setting up the mood through conversation and flashbacks. They want to build up to the incoming confrontation at all times. It is very slow paced so they'll spend 10 episodes on something that could have been in 5 or 6 at most. They'll constantly leave you hanging right at the good part. However, for what it is, it's quite enjoyable. I love Shin-Ah I wish he had more scenes of just being awesome, but maybe I wouldn't like him as much if he did. He's strong, silent and kind of mysterious.
I've never really liked these reverse harem stories, love harem don't love reverse harem. Call me sexist but it doesn't do much for me, I already have a hard enough time getting women without having to imagine being in a situation with five other guys also trying to get the same girl. Especially considering that's how 90% if all romances are anyway. one girl struggling to figure out who it is she really wants, or some guy trying to steal a girl from her boyfriend. Don't get me wrong I love romances but reverse harems aren't my thing. The fact that I even watched this should say a lot to that fact.
Every action scene is deliberate and important, not just mindless action but integral to the story. The styles of fighting range from complete brutality to pure artistry. They don't make the mistake of having someone who just picked up a bow for the first time in her life be an expert at it. The character designs are interesting especially the clothing. The voices are on point for me everyone sounds exactly how I imagine they should sound. I'm interested in seeing how Funimation recreates that and which version I'll enjoy more. I know they released the cast list but it all depends on the acting choices of how they choose to do it rather than what people they get.
All in all I'll give it a 6.6. It was satisfying and had a good conclusion the way they tell the story of what's happening now giving us a glimpse of what's to come and then going back to tell the story really reels you in wanting to know what's going to happen. Everything is very focused and elaborate. Some things are dwelled on a little too long but it doesn't completely hurt it. I'd definitely recommend this anime to others, and if you don't feel like reading just wait for the dub.