“Long, long ago when the big red sun was eaten up, and the world was stained black…”
I am really enjoying Akatsuki no Yona a lot more than I thought I would. As an anime-viewer who has only read a few chapters of the manga with no prior knowledge of the series, it’s archetypal political-adventure quest plot has really capivated the inner childhood side of me that grew up with classic Asian court meets myth kinds of stories. Even though part of me can predict what’ll happen to Yona, how she’ll grow from docile princess to capable warrioress, I’m enjoying the ride nonetheless.
To be hones the animation didn’t sit well with me at the beginning of the series but that’s probably because the story didn’t provide proper setting for the art style to really shine. At regular medium to long angles, the animation doesn’t seem particularly striking but when we get close up into character’s expressions, especially their eyes, the animation REALLY steps it up with the detail and three-dimensional gleams.
Now that Hak and Yona are on the run, the story moves so much quicker in pace. Episode six is not only a turning point for the series, but also a huge turning point for Yona. Up till now the story’s been really patient with her, giving her much-needed time to absorb the changes around her re-interpret her perspectives on the political struggles of the kingdom outside the comfortable life of the palace.
Yona ends up chopping off her hair in the struggle with the fire tribe. The cutting of one’s hair is always s a hugely visual and cultural representation of discarding one’s old life, or just a new change in general. Yona and Hak plunge into a deep valley in the mountains between the fire and wind tribe by the end of the struggle. News of their grisly deaths reach Su-won the night before his coronation. Though it’s fairly intriguing to have a bit of the narrative delve into Su-won’s internal thoughts, he doesn’t seem particularly three-dimensional in that his character’s reactions come off as vague which makes it extremely difficult to read him, or his character is simply interpreted with archetypal traits.
Elder Mun-deok’s perspective provides us with more insight to the nature of the power struggles between the tribes in regards to their relationship with the Sky Tribe who rules over them. Su-won isn’t the same easy-going person he was at the start of the series. The death of his father at a young age must have spurred this desire to become king and he’s definitely political informed and educated considering his internal remarks on the five tribes as well as the tenuous power relationships with neighbouring kingdoms. Though I’m surprised how quickly the other elites of the tribes succumbed to and supported Su-won, it must also be a refreshing change for them to have a King who resolves to conquer and unite rather than peacefully muddling along every day like the former King.
Yona and Hak’s “deaths” go hand in hand with the new arc where Yona and Hak meets the priest of the mountains, Ik-su and a healer named Yoon. Though Hak’s injuries are pretty harsh, I quite enjoyed the way the episode captured the fall in retrospect in a caricatured chibi reenaction.
All in all Akatsuki no Yona is quickly climbing the ranks of my favourite anime series this season and there’s plenty more action to come.
What are you pondering today?