Book Review: Yona of the Dawn Volume 16

Yona of the Dawn Volume 16 cover

I hope that everyone is still having a good week, and trying to get weekend plans solidified.

Things are going pretty well here, as I can still do what I like.

Recently, the first two titles I was expecting to arrive this month came, and I have already covered one of them, leaving only one remaining.

Today, I will be reviewing that last title, which is called Yona of the Dawn Volume 16 by Mizuho Kusanagi.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

With the symbol of the water tribe in hand, Riri makes her way to the local army barracks to request troops, so that Hyo’s reign of terror will finally come to an end.

However, while dealing with the water tribe’s troubles, members of Yona’s group feel uneasy about their current allies and one them feels more uneasy about it than the others.

While the previous volume, which completed the release schedule for last year, even though I did not get to it until this year, did not really come off as that impressive, that does not mean that the first volume of the new year would be too bad, though I still need to be on my toes.

And after reading this, I would have to say that it was okay.

From the moment that I opened up this book and started reading it, I found myself to be engrossed enough in that I did not want to stop reading for any reason, though I would probably say that it was to an even lesser extent than it was for the previous volume.

As I have said numerous amounts of time, probably to the point where you guys are irritated by it as much as I am with the idealistic view that gentlemanly behavior and chivalry are synonymous that has been drilled into our minds for generations, one of the most important things in a work of fiction is how things begin, because the beginning helps readers to get that temporary escape of the stresses of the world, thereby helping them to ignore the most minor of flaws.

While this can be accomplished in many different ways, depending on the kind of work and the medium used to present it, manga is usually published in a serialized format, which means that the next chapter needs to pick up at a good spot that makes sense, based on how the last one ended.

In the last volume, Yona’s party had split off into two groups, so preparations can be made to bring peace to the water tribe and things end with the beginning of the end of the calm before the storm, and Hak seems to be a little worried, especially since Zeno, the only warrior that remains mysterious to the audience at this point in time, is the only one with Yona.

In this volume, things start off with Riri, who promised to get soldiers in exchange for ships, and Yona visiting the army barracks and Hyo vowing to end Yona’s life, which reminded me of what had happened before, though only a few days have passed since I read the previous volume, and quickly pulled me back into the world of the series.

If things did not start off like this, I probably would have been okay it, as the way the previous volume ended allowed to multiple points at which the story could have transitioned to, but I do not think that any of those possibilities would have been just as good for those that have been reading these volumes upon release, which I have been doing before the programming class I took last year had started up, and that would have likely turned away loyal fans of the series.

Fortunately, both Mizuho Kusanagi, who is responsible for creating the series, and Hakusensha, or whoever they had put this volume together, made it possible to start thing off on the right track, and that makes me want to give them a passing grade.

Hopefully, future releases will be able to see some improvements in this area, because I am sure that fans of Yona of the Dawn would want to have people see why they enjoy this series so much, and even why it is one of the few series targeting females that also has male fans, but seeing as things came off as a little weaker in this volume, I might need more than month’s break before I would be willing to read more of this series.

I also liked how Su-Won made a mental note the frustrations of bureaucracy, while sitting back and watching.

Even though I am sure that people I do not necessarily agree with would be jumping for joy at seeing a woman take charge, which is something that is not new to this series, or even fiction in general, if I were to guess, since nobody lives long enough to be able to read every book in the world, I enjoyed was able to enjoy it because of how well I could kind of relate.

In our societies of today, we have a lot of people who think that government can solve every little issue we have, in an illusionary world where most people do not need to hunt, fish, gut, and/or skin animals to survive, or even grow food, because they doubt their fellow man, yet trust an entity made of their fellow man to run things that can turn away those who need help and help those that are truly lazy and entitled.

However, the governments that many put as much faith in as the members of the church I used to attend put into those at the top tends to act too slowly because there is so much red tape and paper work to get anything done.

In this volume, Su-Won shows that he knows how frustratingly inefficient this system is, especially under the leadership of people like Riri’s father and Yona’s late father, who despise war and will do everything possible to avoid it.

Yes, it is not a smart idea to rush into things without preparing and accepting the risks, but as important as caution and negotiating is to survival, it is also important to realize that war, and inflicting suffering on others, is also necessary, because the enemy is not going to just walk away and stop posing a threat.

This is also the same reason why I cannot appease my elders or many of my female peers and be a gentleman, as they would like me to be, because I am aware that those that are important to me can also become my worst nightmare, forcing me to hurt them, when I do not want to do so.

Likewise, Riri, who finally decided to really take matters into her own hands and assemble people to fight, realized that the things that were plaguing her people would not go away if she just sat back and let Su-Won take care of things, though with how sheltered she was, I doubt she would have gotten anywhere without Su-Won, who was able to think of a tactic that would prevent the incident from escalating to all-out war.

If Mizuho had not put in a moment like this, I would have been very disappointed because the ending to volume 14, which showed Riri wishing that she had Yona’s strength, suggested that Riri would gain the resolve to do what needed to be done, making me think that could become stronger, and leaving out details about bureaucracies can be so much of a pain, it would have made Riri’s accomplishment come off as insignificant, especially after the leader of the water tribe said things were far more complicated than she realized in the previous volume.

Thankfully, Mizuho Kusanagi realized that the audience needed to see the pain of bureaucracy firsthand, as well as why Riri took the symbol of the leader of the water tribe, and that make me want to give her a good round of applause for at least making Riri’s accomplishment look good, though it still pales in comparison to seeing how much Yona has grown on her journey.

Hopefully, things like this will continue to crop up as the series progresses, and in a much better way, because Yona and her party should not be the only ones growing and developing, but considering that this volume is the second volume in a row that did not come off as amazing, I have a feeling that the time may arrive soon when I really have to tear into this series, and even possibly drop it.

Another thing that I liked was how Hak reacted to Su-Won.

Throughout the run of this series, the spotlight has been focused mostly on Yona, showing us how she is gradually changing from the spoiled princess that she was in the beginning to the warrior and leader that she is now, and while that was exciting to see, it gave me the impression that all of the male characters were too perfect to be real people.

Yes, there were signs that Su-Won’s betrayal had affect Hak, with how Hak seems to come off said, when Su-Won is discussed, but outside of those moments, Hak, like the four dragon warrior came off a too perfect to be real people, thereby fulfilling the female fantasy of the knight in shining armor, though that is expected from something with the same target demographic of this series.

However, in this volume, once things have been resolved, the spotlight shifts to Hak, who notices Su-Won and lashes out at him, only to be stopped by his comrades, who remind him that Su-Won is currently their ally and even protect Yona from an attack.

If I were seeing this out on the street, I probably would have been annoyed with Hak, even if somebody tried to explain his situation to me, in the hopes of trying to get me to feel empathetic, but because of how things are presented in this series, and even in this volume, I can actually feel his pain, as opposed to thinking I know his pain because I projected my current state of consciousness onto him.

If Mizuho just had Hak let bygones be bygones, which would have been smarter and more civilized, I would have been really disappointed because Hak was shown to be deeply hurt by Su-Won’s betrayal, and I do not really think it would be very believable if Hak did the thing that would normally be expected from a former general, especially because He, Su-Won, and Yona were friends since childhood.

Fortunately, Mizuho did not make Hak act out off character, which would have made him even worse of a male character that was too perfect to be a real person, and that makes me feel like giving Mizuho Kusanagi another good round of applause for doing a good job of making sure that Yona is not the only person who is a human being.

Hopefully, more of the male characters get fleshed out as the series goes on, as I would much rather see all the characters humanized than continuing to be reminded that this series primarily targets a female audience, and that would help bring more people into the series, but because Hana to Yume, the magazines that serializes this series, targets female readers, I doubt that anything is really going to change all that much.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this volume ended.

Other than how things begin, another important part of a work of fiction is how things end, because the end of is supposed to either give the reader a feeling of satisfaction, if it is a standalone work or the final installment in a series, or, if it is part of a series, give the reader some kind of incentive to continue on with the series.

While the very last few panels do not really do this well, as it shows what happened to Riri after Hyo was put in his place, and ultimately leaving things off in a way that the next adventure is about to begin, which is not a bad way to end things, the panels preceding Riri’s fate and Yona’s party heading out have me much more intrigued because it gave me the impression that war was on the horizon, and much more so than one of the bubble explicitly saying war.

By having things end like this, though it still does not change the fact that the whole thing gives off the impression of the start of a new adventure, it has me more excited to read the next volume right now than anything else in this volume or series, even though it will not be out until April, according to the product page on Amazon.

If Mizuho Kusanagi had the final chapter end, with only Yona leaving and Riri’s fate, I would have been okay with things, as there is nothing to suggest that anything will happen soon anyway, but I would not really have any good motivation to not wait another five to six months to continue on with this series, and, if enough people feel that way, it could hurt the creator’s livelihood.

Thankfully, Mizuho Kusanagi added in some stuff that really made the end stand, and that makes me feel like giving her a good round of applause.

Hopefully, future installments will improve in this area, because I would much rather be able to really single the praises of a work of fiction than write things off, but seeing as how things have been going, I would not be surprised if I struggle with future volumes, as I could very likely encounter one that is a nightmare for reviewers because they cannot find anything good or bad that really stood out.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out as much as what I have already talked about.

Because my attention was captured quickly and maintained for most of the book, the pain of bureaucracies was delved into, which helped to make Riri’s accomplishment feel a little more significant, Hak did not act out of character, and part of the ending was able to get me intrigued with where the series was going, this was a decent read.

Although I found some things to like about this bokk, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, there was one thing that kind of bothered me, which was how boring the volume seemed overall.

One of the nice things about this series, besides the fact that we see a weak princess become stronger, which is now becoming the clichéd manga protagonist these days, was how things seemed to be exciting whenever the action really started and the battles had me a little on the edge of my seat, though knowing that Su-Won, Hak, and the four dragon warriors are all portrayed as too perfect to be real people did take away from the tension.

However, after Riri was able to get water tribes soldiers to follow her command, which did not feel like it amounted to much right now, things started to feel flat and took me out the experience.

Yes, there was fighting, which many women believe is the one thing that all men like to see, besides naked women of course, but I can hardly remember it at all, and it felt more like everyone was goofing around than taking things seriously up until Yona got attacked by archers, and even Hyo himself.

This problem that they were dealing with was supposed to be bigger than Awa, as the problem was said to be worse, but it just came off as nothing more than a foot note of a foot note in a history book, and the only things that really stood out were things that I am sure the female fans of this series would appreciate more than people like me.

Seriously, Mizuho? Is this anyway to write a series that has garnered attention from both a male and female audience?

If so, then I do not see how anyone, except the target demographic, can enjoy this series, because a great work of fiction is one that is written in a way that everyone can enjoy it, and by not writing things well, people will be turned away.

If Mizuho Kusanagi and the people helping her to bring this series to all of us had put in more work, I would have been able to really enjoy myself, like I was hoping that I would, and be able to honestly say that I liked it.

Sadly, the lack of effort shown to provide a decent skirmish made it so that I was just reading to be done with things, and that greatly disappointed me.

Hopefully, things will improve in this aspect as the series progress, as that will help the series gain more recognition, but at this point, I highly doubt things will change.

Thankfully, that was only thing that really bothered me, so Mizuho Kusanagi and the people over at Hakusensha can walk away with the knowledge that they did not do anything too bad.

While there was only one thing that bothered me, the issue was bad enough that it really hurt what was otherwise a good read.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, the only real issue to be found did enough damage that this was only good enough to kill time.

I mainly recommend this to the female fans of Yona of the Dawn, as they will be able to enjoy this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but male fans of Yona of the Dawn, especially those that fit the mold of the stereotypical male better than I do, might be left with a lot to be desired, even if the time is taken to read the previous volumes.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or if you would like a copy of the reviewed title, so you can check it out for yourself, buy Yona of the Dawn Volume 16 from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can continue following this series, though I am thinking of taking a break from it, and possibly find more worthwhile reads for you guys to check out.

Copyright © 2019 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.