- Title: Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn)
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, Shoujo
- Studios: Studio Pierrot
- Episodes: 24 – 24min (Completed)
- Date: 7 October 2014 — 24 March 2015
- Source: Manga
Princess Yona lives a life of luxury and ease, completely sheltered from the problems of the seemingly peaceful Kingdom of Kouka; however, the sudden murder of the king and betrayal of her beloved cousin Su-won places Yona’s life in mortal peril. Forced to escape only with Son Hak, who is both her childhood friend and bodyguard, the naïve princess soon discovers that Kouka is not the idyllic place she envisioned it to be. Poverty, strife, and corruption run rampant, making reclaiming the throne nothing more than a wishful fantasy given the kingdom’s current state.
Based on the popular manga of the same name by Mizuho Kusanagi, Akatsuki no Yona follows Princess Yona on a coming-of-age adventure as she faces the harsh realities of her kingdom. With only a mysterious legend to guide her, Yona must discover a way to restore Kouka to its former glory while being pursued relentlessly by the forces of the new King of Kouka.
Akatsuki no Yona is a cut above many adventure anime out there. But more than just an adventure show, it is adept at using both the fantasy and adventure genre combined to bring out the sensation of a mystical journey.
What really gave Akatsuki no Yona its mystical essence is its music and sound. As I’ve talked about before, Opening songs and Ending songs have quite the influence on a show. From the very beginning, the anime sets the tone of the show with its instrumental Opening theme song, creating an environment that felt magical and oriental. As guilty as I usually am of skipping anime Openings, skipping this anime’s OP would always make me feel like I missed a part of the show. That’s how impactful the OP was for this show. But not just the OP alone, even throughout the episodes, the anime continues to play oriental instrumental music that give off that ancient and magical vibe. The sounds alone were able to properly identify this anime as a fantasy. It truly gave the anime a magical edge.
The characters in this Shoujo anime were wonderfully crafted. Our main character Hime-sama wasn’t your typical princess. She had a strong will and eyes that were formidable. Then we have Hak, the mightiest guard that stays true to his princess. Next, we have the legendary Dragon Warriors that slowly start to come around. There’s even the handsome fortune teller and his apprentice. Each of these masculine pretty boys all surrounding our one princess. Sounds like a great Shoujo anime huh? Did I mention that these men were very charming and attractive as well? But if that were it, then there’s not really anything much to the characters. What made the characters stand out were the cast’s chemistry with their personable characters and entertaining interactions. It gave them a more humane side other than that of a warrior to the princess.
The overall story has good flow with decent pacing. It gave ample time for the show to develop the characters, without it being too slow or boring. The action scenes were all also filled with glamorous battle sequences that made our main characters feel so dependable. All these factors were able to complement the anime and its story to make it one of the best adventure fantasies out there.
Should I watch Akatsuki no Yona?
Viewers that would want quick gratification from watching anime might not be interested in this show. It will develop at a slow pace, although without making it feel too boring. But even after watching all 24 episodes, the anime cuts off right where it should start getting really, really good. So the end product is really just this slow build up of things that could have become something greater.
But putting aside the lingering dissatisfaction that comes from an incomplete series (with no season 2 having been announced yet), the anime itself honestly provides quite the entertaining journey. It was really a great fantasy adventure anime, and I would recommend any fans of the genre to give it a try.