Friday, July 24, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: YONA OF THE DAWN Volume 16


MANGAKA: Mizuho Kusanagi
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane
LETTERS: Lys Blakeslee
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8798-1; paperback (February 2019); Rated “T” for “Teen”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Yona of the Dawn is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Mizuho Kusanagi.  It has been serialized in Hakusensha's shojo manga magazine, Hana to Yume, since August 2009.  VIZ Media has been publishing an English-language edition of the manga as a paperback graphic novel series since August 2016 under its “Shojo Beat” imprint.

Yona of the Dawn focuses on the only princess in the Kingdom of Kohka, Yona.  She lives an ideal life, and her father, King Il, dotes on her.  Her faithful guard, Son Hak of the Wind Tribe, protects her.  Yona even cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, her cousin Lord Su-won of the Sky Tribe.  However, everything changes for Princess Yona on her 16th birthday when the king is killed and Hak is blamed.  Soon, Yona is on the run with Hak, but she is determined to reclaim her throne.  To do so, she begins a journey to find the Four Dragon Warriors.

As Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 16 (Chapter 89 to 94) opens, Yona and her companions continue their fight against the drug known as “nadai,” which has spread swiftly through the coastal towns of the “Water Tribe” territories.  Their fight has earned them the ire of the nadai's kingpin, the drug dealer, Hyo, who has called on his allies in South Kai to help him defeat all those who have massed against him.

Now, a fleet of South Kai ships sails into the waters of the port town of Sensui.  Can Yona and her friends stop Hyo and his allies?  Can Yona's new friend, Lady Riri, the pampered princess of the Water Tribe's chief, General Jung-Gi, convince enough of her people to follow her?  Plus, Yona comes face to face with a dear friend turned adversary.

THE LOWDOWN:  The Yona of the Dawn manga concludes its adventure into the land of the Water Tribe, one of five tribes that comprise the Kingdom of Kohka (Sky, Wind, Fire, Earth, and Water).  This is my favorite story arc of the series, thus far.

Yona of the Dawn Graphic Novel Volume 16 is a tale of two princesses, as was Vol. 15.  Creator Mizuho Kusanagi seems to have initially used this story arc to contrast Yona and Riri.  While Yona seems so brave and self-assured to Riri, readers know that Yona is still discovering herself and what she can do.  Riri, however, is struggling to come into her own, but Kusanagi depicts her as being stronger and more capable than she thinks herself to be.

The fun in reading this arc is not only in seeing the “Nadai conspiracy”play out, but also in watching Riri come into her own, which plays a part in the formation of Yona of the Dawn's next arc.  JN Productions (translation) and Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane (English adaptation) always reveals the romantic side of this shojo historical fiction and romance, but in Vol. 16, they capture the evolution of a princess and the ongoing journey of discovery of another.

Also, in hopes of avoiding spoilers, I can say that in a way, Vol. 16 throws a spotlight on Hak.  His actions here are bound to come back to haunt future story lines...

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of historical romantic adventure will want to try the “Shojo Beat” title, Yona of the Dawn.

10 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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