Manga Reviews: Yona of the Dawn Volume 1, 2, & 3

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 1
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.75/5 stars
Date read: May 14, 2020 (reread)

Yona lives her life as the spoiled princess of Kohka, hoping to one day marry her sweet and handsome cousin Su-won and being constantly annoyed by her bodyguard Hak. On Yona’s sixteenth birthday everything changes dramatically after she witnesses the murder of her father at the hands of her beloved Su-won. Hak and Yona flee the palace, and set off on a journey to find Yona’s destiny and the companions she needs to achieve it. 

It’s always so challenging rating and reviewing an ongoing manga based on only one of its volumes. We’re really just starting off the story here, so it’s tough to judge it. When we first meet our main character, Yona, she’s a total brat, and she’s especially dense and insensitive when it comes to a certain someone’s feelings somethings never change, though given the circumstances, her personality and attitude change throughout the volume. She and Hak have a really fantastic dynamic, she’s spoiled and can be a bit much at times, but he keeps her in check with his teasing. Naturally I’m rooting for Hak because I always love a character who puts the happiness of the ones they love above their own, and I respect that he acknowledges his own position. As for Yona’s crush on Su-won, while I do feel it comes from a good place, I’ve never take it too seriously because I’ve always thought of it as an innocent childhood fancy. 

In terms of the story, this volume really is just setting the stage for the series. We get a lot of flashbacks to Yona, Su-won, and Hak’s childhood, and these flashbacks create a solid foundation for the varying relationships between the trio. The flashbacks also make the “love triangle” more compelling, and drive home just how devastating Su-won’s betrayal really is. At this point the plot isn’t entirely clear as we have no idea where Yona wants to go from here. 

As for the art, to be completely honest, Kusanagi’s art didn’t sell me initially, but over time I’ve come to love it and I think she’s improved so much since this first volume. Her characters look a bit young in this first instalment, but they look more their ages as the series progresses. I also appreciate that all the faces of her characters are distinct, I’ve come across more than one manga where the artist will use similar faces for every character and if those characters were all bald or changed their hairstyles I’m convinced I would not be able to tell them apart but that really isn’t the case here. Her assistants are also amazing and the scenery in this manga should not be overlooked.

As for some random musings, I wish Hak hadn’t stopped wearing his headband because it was so adorable, I’m still hoping King Il’s reasoning for not wanting Su-won to be king is further explored later on, and I do have to wonder why no one thought to make sure Hak wouldn’t be an issue the night of the assassination. He’s easily the biggest threat in the palace. 

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 2
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: May 17, 2020 (reread)

Volume 2 of Yona of the Dawn picks up where volume 1 left off, with Hak and Yona seeking solace from the Wind Tribe.

From Volume 1 of the series, its not entirely clear just where this series is going, and while volume 2 still doesn’t answer that question, it does at the very least give Yona a direction to head in. Volume 2 really takes the time to allow Yona to get over her shock over the loss of both her father and Su-won. In this volume we also get to see Su-won move forward with his plan to be King, and what measures he takes in order to garner the support of all the tribes. I really appreciate that Yona of the Dawn is a multiple perspective story and that we get to see what Su-won is up to, though his motivations are still unclear. I also appreciated the time we spent with the Wind Tribe as it added more dimension to Kohka, and allowed us a glimpse into what Hak’s upbringing was like. There were also some really touching scenes in this volume with Mun-deok, he’s the last parental figure the trio has that I’m aware of at least, I mean I have no idea where Su-won’s mom is. With this volume we also get more insight into Hak and Yona’s characters. They’re both individuals who are quick to take responsibility for their actions or in this case Su-won’s actions and that’s a trait I find admirable in any hero/ine. Our sheltered princess also gets to see the result of violence for the first time, an event that I feel really encourages her to take action, and finally moves the story forward. So overall I enjoyed this volume and the world building and character depth it added to the story.

Series: Yona of the Dawn
Volume 3
Author: Mizuho Kusanagi
First published: 2010
Ongoing: yes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Date read: (reread)

In this instalment of Yona of the Dawn we follow Yona as she leaves the Wind Tribe in search of a priest who can guide her towards the path she is destined to take. 

Yona of the Dawn is always a pleasure to read. This series has some of the best art and Kusanagi’s attention to detail is impeccable. Kusanagi is not only a talented artist, but also a talented storyteller. I love the attention she gives to the main players of the story and really appreciated exploring both Yun and Gija’s backstories, this really helps bring to life their characters and offers insight into their personalities and motivations. My favourite part of any volume is of course Yona’s interactions with Hak, I can’t help it, they’re my OTP. I also liked the world building in this volume, we got a look at the backstory behind Kohka and I really enjoyed the mythos behind the kingdom. Obviously I’m really looking forward to rereading the next volume!

If you’ve read Yona of the Dawn or plan to, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗

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