Akatsuki no Yona – 06

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Akatsuki no Yona puts all it’s cards on the table this week. The animation is noticeably more… animated, actually. Color, drama of the situation, and the emotional tension of Yona and Hak falling off a cliff mere minutes after the episode started all put me in the best mood this show has managed so far.

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Then it tossed all my good will out the window with flashbacks OF CONTENT FROM ITS OWN EPISODE, lazy, humor-free jokes about a guy who’s 25 acting like an old man, and meeting a priest who’s a kind-natured bumbler in the most cliché of ways…

yona62Soo-won apparently bathes behind a quarantine tarp…

ARGH! Yona why are you so uselessly pedestrian and what the heck is wrong with everyone rating you so high on MAL?? Is it just that Korea gets so little attention, anime wise?

Or is there some value that your plain-jane animation, stodgy character design, and plot that’s gone nearly nowhere in six episodes is hiding from me?

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The above image was my favorite part of the episode. In it, an unimportant side character urinates into Yona’s mouth. Then, when she wakes up from her 5,000 foot fall into the valley, he tactfully offers her a fresh orange to suck on.

Classy!

Good grief people? Why are any of us watching this???

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*Yes I know I’ve dropped this multiple times in the past but I’m serious this time! :(

Akatsuki no Yona – 05

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With Hak mortally wounded, his body full of poison, and the Fire Tribe about to finish them off, things got a little… weird in week 5 of Akatsuki no Yona. 

Will Princess Yona have to suck the poison out of Hak’s arrow holes? Will he survive even if she does that? Will her shattered pyche ever return to her body?

What the heck is even going on?

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Episode five starts with Yona laying in a ditch, dazed with blood on her hands. “Is she hurt or has she hurt someone else?” the narrator asks, but only the haunting crackle of static and crow-song answers.

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Then we flash back to the Wind Tribe’s castle and watch Yona watch the injured merchants die one by one. (These were the poor fellows attacked by the Fire Tribe in the previous episode)

It’s a sad scene but, as the one before it, we don’t really know what’s going on and, even though we see Yona’s hair, we never see her face. That creepy static and bird shrieking comes back again too and, again as before, the scene fades into a pulsing red before popping back out into the next.

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And the next scene is even weirder, because it features the Fire Tribe and it’s all about the laughs. They’ve cornered the Princess and Hak, but, because they address Hak as a General (which he’s formally given up being) he and the princess pretend they aren’t being talked to and wander off to watch some birds from the cliff side.

Instead of being angry, the Fire Tribe suddenly turned all chibi-style. Super deformed with sweat bubbles flailing around, apologizing they didn’t know about Hak’s change of status.

Then Hak kills like a million of them.

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But all goes wrong when Yona trips and Hak has to shield her from a storm of poison arrows. He coughs blood onto her lap, all the while Yona is screaming she needs him, and then he blacks out.

It’s a bizarre scene, if I’m being honest. I guess the studio decided to sort-of-censor themselves by adding lots of red ‘rocks’ flying everywhere when the arrows hit to make it look like blood, but not blood. I don’t know why they did this but it works, in so far as I assumed it was blood until I reviewed my screen caps afterward.

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So… that happened. Action we got, finally, but it was a bit clunky. Characters developed too, especially Yona, who’s come to terms with the fact that she really was spoiled and useless as a head of state. She doesn’t even know where she is, or if the land around her is common to her own Kingdom. That honesty was refreshing I guess.

I’d give this week’s episode a higher score if it actually unfolded the way I describe above. Instead, it was mostly adequate, but slow, with an evil teenager villain who doesn’t even really have a plan or any more idea what he’s doing than Yona.

S’okay, though. This was probably the best Yona we’ve seen so far and, if next week continues down this path, it will reach a 7 in no time!

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Akatsuki no Yona – 04

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Akatsuki no Yona episode 4 sees Yona and Hak make it to the Wind Tribe’s village. It’s been a long journey for Yona, and she collapses at the castle’s gate soon after meeting two quirky young guards that act just like young-Huk in the flashbacks.

We also get to see the political machinations back at Yona’s home castle. Soo-Won is a not only quick and devious: he’s actually an effective politician. It makes you wonder, given how much power King Il lost for his kingdom, is Soo-Won really that bad an alternate choice?

I mean, aside from the killing-his-way-into-power thing.

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Back at Yona’s castle, Elder Mon-Deok and the other 4 tribal lords have been summoned to crown Soo-Won king. The Fire Tribe is clearly in on this, but its not like any of the tribes really oppose Soo-Won. He is the legit next in line for the thrown and, baring evidence that he actually killed the king, why not?

But Mon-Deok knows Hak and trusts he would never leave the castle in such a situation without a good reason. So he defers his support… and pretty much screws his tribe to harassment by their adversaries the Fire Tribe.

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Back at the Fire Tribe, Yona meets Hak’s adopted younger brother and sees how happy go luck life is with them. It’s all so wonderful until the fire tribe dams the river and starts killing merchants to starve them out…

This ultimately forces Hak to resign as head of the tribe and place Mon-Deok in charge. No longer happy, he and Yona head out into the…wherever they are going that isn’t in the kingdom… I’m not sure. I don’t really understand the map on the wall.

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Given how terrible politically themed shows have been recently (VANADIS!) Yona deserves more credit than usual. Her story is still puppet theatre, but the underhanded moves by Soo-Won work in a straight forward sort of way.

Still, one can’t escape the fact that no action happened this episode, nor the teeth-grindingly dreadful “Little Timmy who needs medicine” character who we met either…

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Akatsuki no Yona – 03

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This week’s episode of “I don’t know why half of you love this show so much” Akatsuki no Yona consists of two flashbacks that establish Huk’s earlier interactions with Yona and Soo-Won, and one current event scene where a broken Huk repeatedly saves Yona from attacking wildlife.

Until proven otherwise, I’m just going to keep noting that Yona is pretty much terrible. Well, not terrible, per se. It’s just remarkably average and this episode’s constant clash of silly kiddy moments was totally dissonant.

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I get it! The happy childhood these characters shared was so happy and carefree that Soo-won’s mega betrayal’s destruction of Yona’s will to live is understandable. But maybe that would have been more compelling if the flashbacks were shot from Yona’s perspective?

Because Huk’s memories of Yona still paint her as a spoiled, weak willed brat, even though he loves her!

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However, it’s more interesting to look at this episode as a dedication to each of these three children’s fathers, and less about them. In this case, Huk’s perspective is probably necessary, because Yona is too much of a dull-whit to notice all but the most obvious contexts for each man.

About all I can give a thumbs-up to here was each father’s visit to their sickened child. Huk’s adopted father (and general of the clan) is brash but ultimately there for chuckles and clearly loves his grandson; Soo-Won’s father is clearly an unstable psychopath, and he treats Soo-won more like a valued possession than a person, and the King doesn’t visit Yona until later that night — but he loves her so much he makes her a soup! (and he does a terrible job at it.)

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Ignoring all this happy context, which in many ways would have made a more interesting show than the one we are watching, Yona snaps back into the present. There the princess takes a bath but gets covered in leeches, and is saved by Huk. Then she wanders off into the woods looking for her hair pin and is…uh…ambushed by a pack of snakes…then she’s saved by Huk again, and I’m just confused…
…Why is NATURE attacking Yona now? Whatevs…
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Akatsuki no Yona – 02

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I took my second outing with Akatsuki no Yona this week and I will gladly admit it fared much better than my last. Given episode 2’s greater emphasis on backstory building and action over spoiled princess love monologues, this should be surprising though.

Still, Princess Yona deserves some credit here. Her show has clawed its way to something better than complete mediocrity and, based on it’s closing scene, looks like it will continue to climb slowly to a natural plateau of just-barely-watchable standards.

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In a nutshell, Soo-Won’s betrayal last week was to avenge his father, who King Il had killed back in the fog of Soo-Won’s childhood. Whether or not King Il did, in fact kill his brother, and whatever his motives may have been if he did, Soo-Won is not entirely a reliable narrator here. (nor are his allies, who may have provided him with bad intel and come off as classic bad guys)

Regardless, it’s a mystery that I’m sure will tragically unfold over the next ten episodes — and it’s honestly an adequate one too — I just don’t have it in me to care for adequate this season.

yona2_5A little hong-kong action between exposition. Decent fight, actually.

Again, as we’d already seen last week, Huk shows up, saves the princess and gets filled in on the details. Then a servant sacrifices himself so the good guys can get away. Then we flash forward to the future of the present day that opened the first episode.

AnY’s story is remarkably slow, methodical in its goal to leave no question about it’s very simple events for the viewer, and repetitive. If not for the action sequences, which were nothing remarkable, watching this episode would have been terrible.

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Some time in the future, Yona is joined by Princess Mononoke, for some reason.

Akatsuki no Yona is the soppy-but-one-day-strong princess Yin to Seven Deadly Sins’ obnoxious hero protecting a princess Yang. The yin is melodramatic high school filler with a degree more realism and grounded sense of style. The yang is an empty middle school romp through boobies and over the top style and fantasy setting.

Both shows feature a quest to gather a group of great warriors to aide the princess in her time of need. Neither is especially mature or technically complex in how it’s going about it. Neither is, at all nor in any way, worth watching this season, nor at any time unless you are under the age of 17.

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Akatsuki no Yona – 01

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There’s no nice way to say this but Akatsuki no Yona has no place being released during such a hot season. It’s very average looking, featuring dull character designs with ‘cheats’ like putting many characters in robes, which means they don’t have to have legs or feet or, really, a walk cycle in the first place.

It’s not ugly per-see, but it just feels strained. Cheap. Uninspired. That’s just not gonna cut it with Vanadis and Bahamut around. Even Nanatsu no Taizai had more enthusiasm than this — more personality too!

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we pause this drab fantasy/historical drama to bring you worse looking art…carry on!

Akatsuki no Yona is a by-the-numbers tragic tale of betrayal and features a spoiled princess as it’s central character. In fact, Princess Yona gets so much screen time pining for her big-brother-like childhood friend Soo-Won that, when he finally kills her father, I was on his side!

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The princess is simply unlikable from the start, which makes it very difficult to empathize with her after her world turns upside down. If anything, I care about antagonist Soo-Won more. He seems to actually care about her and be conflicted about her unfortunate fate during all of this.

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Even in a slower season of anime, this would be pretty low on our radar. In such a clustered season? I already have Cross-Ange for my tragic sheltered princess genre, thank you.

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