Yona of the Dawn, Vol 13

Yona of the Dawn Volume 13 by Mizuho Kusanagi

One of the many things that sets Yona of the Dawn apart from other fantasy shoujo series is Kusanagi’s great ability to portray characters with nuance, even those who are villains. This volume is a bit of a departure, as it focuses on Su-Won, who has taken control of the kingdom. Su-jin, the chief of the Fire Tribe has decided that he’s going to be the one to lead a rebellion and assume the mantle of the Crimson Dragon King. Su-jin is absolutely heedless of the suffering he’s going to cause with his actions, and he’s so committed to his vision of himself that he doesn’t realize that Su-Won is a Machivellian master of both statecraft and battle tactics until it is far to late.

As usual, Yona functions as the soul of her country. While she doesn’t engage in the battle directly, she leads her warriors in when the opportunity comes to prevent the suffering of ordinary civilians. While she confronts Su-jin with words he’s incapable of considering, her encounter with Su-Won is limited to a few searing panels as they gaze at each other across the battlefield. This is one of those scenes that can only best be done by sequential illustration, as Kusanagi cuts between their faces, showing Su-Jin’s shock and Yona’s absolute sense of resolution. Whatever someone things of Su-Won as a person, it is hard not to admire him as a leader after this volume, as he adroitly deals with the leadership vaccum for the Fire Tribe, appreciates the way Tae-Jun has changed for the better after Yona’s influence, and even takes measures to protect the rare grain that Yona secured that might actually help solve the humanitarian crisis that many people in the kingdom are suffering.

Some of my favorite moments in this series are when Yona and her warriors are able to relax a little bit, and there are a few pages that push forward her connection with Hak. This volume concludes with a triumphant scene as Hak pushes Yona to take part in an archery contest, and it is a nice way to wrap up this storyline, away from the battlefield. I’m always looking forward to the next volume with this series, which is strongly in the running for my favorite fantasy shoujo series of all time.

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