Akatsuki no Yona, Episode 7

We traded out sakuga for great character work and one heckuva a fascinating conflict this week, and I’m totally okay with that.

Akatsuki no Yona

Yona’s growing, but it’s happening slowly and imperfectly. While she may finally be understanding just how ignorant she truly is, that’s not enough to transform her into an avenging angel for her country. Awareness of ignorance is not the same as knowledge, but Yona’s taken the first step towards understanding the world around her.

On that note, it’s incredibly appropriate that Akatsuki no Yona decided to funnel in the Kouka Kingdom’s creation myth into this episode. Creation myths, at their core, are stories that inform their respective culture about how the world works, so narrating the myth in this episode fits right in with the theme of Yona realizing that she has no clue how her kingdom works, not even in the very place in which she grew up.

For me, the more interesting piece of all the religious talk that happens in this episode is the little circle around which the priest leads Yona. She begins their conversation on the cliff by saying that she doesn’t need the gods, but by the end of the episode she’s come full circle—effectively accepting a divine warrant for her future actions and her quest to find the dragon warriors.

This stands in direct contrast to Soo-won’s speech last episode, in which he claimed he didn’t need the power of the gods, only the power of the people. The main conflict of the story has now revealed itself to be far wider in scope than a simple family squabble for the throne. This is now a battle between the gods and the fundamental structures of the country’s mythos versus a man and his desire to harness the power of humanity. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as religion versus non-religion—after all, the gods support the people. But in this creation myth, we’re perhaps given a hint of foreshadowing as to how this story will end.

When the corrupt people seek power, the gods will set things to rights through chosen human actors. That’s the core of the Kouka Kingdom creation myth, and it’s clear that Yona has been set on a similar path. Yet, at the end of the myth, Hiryuu passes away, exhausted from the fighting. Is this to be Yona’s fate, as well?

Akatsuki no Yona

And Yona is led back to her own words by the priest, but for a greater purpose than before.

Apart from all this talk of gods and men and divinely ordained quests, we also got some great character stuff this episode. One of the fears I’ve had for Akatsuki no Yona is that Yona wouldn’t actually end up a strong character in her own right, but just a fierce personality for whom a harem of handsome fighting men do all the work. But I don’t think that’s where the show is leading us. It’s clear from this episode: Yona wants to protect Hak just as much as he wants to protect her. And (because Yona has that classic harem lead density) we know that this isn’t her babbling about some boy who’s stolen her heart—it’s about keeping a dear friend alive.

Yona also is starting to push against the chains of her feelings for Soo-won. Despite the fact that he loved her hair, she’s fine with it being cut. And, although she can’t quite do it yet, she thinks about throwing away the hairpin. I’m not sure I want her throw away the hairpin, because I think it could turn into a compelling symbol of her desire to truly understand other, but the part of me that wants Hak to win the princess sweepstakes wants her to get rid of it. Hak himself is aware of what the hairpin represents, and it seems he understands completely his own feelings for Yona are romantic.

Akatsuki no Yona

The two of them still have great chemistry and are fun to watch on screen together. I’m actually grateful this is a harem and we aren’t getting SoreSeka levels of kissing happening, because I think the romantic stagnation leaves a lot more room for Yona to grow into her own, unhampered by the potential stereotypical pitfalls of a romance. Right now, I’m really happy with where her character is at. Her blood’s boiling; she’s going to take action.

6 thoughts on “Akatsuki no Yona, Episode 7

  1. I am appreciating that (A) supernatural elements have been pretty much absent so far, and (B) that what looks to be in the offing promises to be in a more mythological type vein. There are too many worlds where any high school kid can conjure up a neon spinning man-hole cover of magic. Not that I have anything against it, I just think supernatural stuff might be more interesting if it’s doled out more sparingly and not 30% of every episode. It’s gets old quickly like magical girl transformations.

    I like that this is coming off more like Tristan & Ysolde than Harry Potter.

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    • Yeah, if there’s going to be magic, it’s not going to be a focus of the show. Even the flashforwards we’ve seen have only had the dragon warrior using physical combat, if heightened a bit by their divinely given abilities.

      Now that I think about it, I’m not sure that I’ve seen a strongly mythological anime featuring a female protagonist…a lot of the archetypal conventions for a quest story like this are couched in gendered terms.

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  2. This might be very interesting if they are setting up a gods vs. man scenario here. Especially since the Yona/Soo-won conflict could never be seen as a simple case of good vs. evil. I wonder if the four original dragon warriors are going to still be alive, or reincarnations like Yona.

    Yona looks difficult to draw, her character design is so detailed and shoujo-y. I really like this show, I think it’s slowly starting to overtake the likes of even Bahamut for me.

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    • I sort of got the impression that the dragon warriors were unaging, but it wouldn’t be that odd if they were reincarnations , too.

      Bahamut’s much flashier than Yona is, but I think it relies on the flash factor for investment, while Yona is actually making a play to likable, entertaining, and get some deeper investment in the characters. Bahamut’s so good technically that it overshadows a lot of other shows, but Yona has some really basic storytelling fundamentals totally mastered.

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