I hope that everyone has been enjoying the holidays, no matter what you celebrated,
Things were quite interesting this year, with a few surprises in the mix, because I got a gift of some Amazon credit from somebody I did not expect, as people not related to me by blood usually do not give me gifts.
With that credit, I got a quite a few new books, many of which have yet to be released at this moment, but two of them were recent releases.
Today, I will be reviewing one of those two titles, which is called Yona of the Dawn Volume 3 by Mizuho Kusanagi.
As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.
After falling from a cliff, Yona and Hak wake up and find themselves face to face with the person that they were searching for all along, and ask for guidance, though Hak is skeptical for their motive.
However, when the priest speaks, they find out that Yona has more trouble ahead of her and that she will need to enlist the help of people that everyone thinks are nothing more than myth if she wants to continue to live.
Seeing as the first two volumes really outdid the anime adaptation, even if they do share a common problem, I had high hopes that this series would be a decent enough read to stand up there with Pandora Hearts and The Ancient Magus Bride, and, after reading this volume, I think that that assessment might just be spot on, at least for now.
From the moment that I opened this book and started reading the first few pages, I did not want to put this book down for any reason, in spite of the fact that, yet again, hardly anything happened, aside from things have now become cliché.
Great stories are great because the moments of peace in the lives of the characters are just as enjoyable as the fast-paced moments and they allow us to really learn about who each of the important characters are and see how they develop over the course of their journey. This is true, even when the plotline is clichéd, because the reader wants to see how the character grows, instead of setting out and accomplishing the task at hand.
However, there are series and books out there, like Sword Art Online, more so with the novel and the Fairy Dance and later arcs, the characters are not fleshed out and they seem to just accomplish whatever goal the writer has set out, which makes people think that these characters are just wish-fulfillment or Mary Sue or Gary Stu.
In the case of this volume, Yona and Hak still seem to be actual people with a personality that fits with their old lifestyles of the sheltered princess and childhood friend turned bodyguard, but Yona is also showing more signs of wanting to join in in the fighting, to ensure that she does not lose any more people that are important to her.
While some people think that Yona should just get up and start doing something, I am glad that Mizuho is taking this route because I would have been mad if Mizuho had Yona be a natural at fighting right after Yona's moment of realizing that an outcome she does not want will happen if she does not get her hands dirty.
Besides, this is only the third volume, and seeing as this series has 22 volumes and counting in Japan, according to a page on Baka-Updates Manga, Mizuho has plenty of time to flesh out each of her characters and it might be able to show some growth that was not present in the anime, much like how the exchange between Oz and Xai in Pandora Hearts Volume 22 showed more growth in Oz than Oz's confrontation in the anime, even though it was published after the anime concluded.
Hopefully, Mizuho can keep things interesting like they were here, otherwise I would not see how this series would be considered a diamond in the vast sea of garbage that is to be found in the fictional world, such as how I could not see why people thought that the Yu Yu Hakusho manga was all that great when I started reading all 19 of its volumes.
I also liked how there was still plenty of things to laugh about.
Even though the content found in this volume is not something that cannot be found in the anime as well, and this situation will remain unchanged for some time, since one of the links from earlier says that this will be the case up until volume 8 or so, I still could not help but laugh a bit about seeing them all play out here in this volume, such as Hak trying to hide Yona and Yona learning to shoot a bow, which is one thing that I can definitely say would be outside my capabilities if I had tried to learn it.
From the very first volume on, Yona of the Dawn not ceased to make me laugh, while other series, like Detective Conan, have become much more serious as the series progressed, and I am hoping to see more of it along the way, though I do suspect that things will not remain as funny as they are now.
After all, I doubt that many people would continue reading this series if both things that it has going for it right now, which is character growth and its comedy, suddenly flatlined.
Another thing that I liked was what Ik-su, the priest that Yona and Hak were sent to find, said to Yona.
When Yona sought the advice of Ik-su, like Mun-Deok suggested, she asks the priest if what he want to tell her was what path she needs to take, and he talks about fate and gives her advice, but then says, "But heaven can only show you the path. You must choose to walk it."
In our society, we have a lot of people that think that god will intervene in whatever is happening and make things right, and if he does not, the clichéd saying of "The Lord works in mysterious ways" comes up, instead of just accepting that things beyond our control happens and instead, try to make the best of things.
If things really worked that way, a friend or family member would always be approaching me on the street at the exact moment that I need help, such as when I push myself too much.
Unfortunately, that is not how the world works, and even if there are friends and family nearby willing to help, I do not always ask for it because I am either trying to be independent or think those people are in no condition to help me or that I would be burdening them.
While the sentiments expressed in this quote are the same things that my elders and I will agree on, and is one thing that many religions preach, which is why I see some truth in many things, it is a big deal here because I do not see too many works of fiction these days where there is a prophecy and the protagonists are expected to fulfill it, or are at least among one of those expected.
However, like the false belief that a prophet will never lead God's church astray that many of my church leaders and fellow parishioners want to me believe is the truth, and is discussed in an opinion piece by Jana Riess on Religion News Service, such a thing ultimately takes away from a person's ability to choose.
The characters of a fictional, though created by the imagination of the writer, need to feel like actual people and the way to do that is to write the story in a way in which the readers believe that the characters are making the choices themselves instead of being pulled along by the whims of the writer or the other characters, and, for now, Mizuho is doing just that exactly, which makes me want to give her some props.
Seriously, a lot of fiction, including my own work, would be a whole lot better if it felt like the journey the characters went through came about because of their choices and struggles, especially because many of the things that the Elric brothers from FMA and Oz from Pandora Hearts did actually felt like something they would do.
Unfortunately, because society thinks that social interaction is more important than understanding others, although there is some overlap in that some social interaction is required to understand a person, and humans being are generally lazy, there will not be too many people out there that will go out there and really explore the character of their protagonist and other important characters, so the day when all fictional characters will feel like humans may never come.
It was also nice to see how Ik-su accepted the company and opinions of other people.
In my review of the previous volume, I made mention of how two characters decided not to turn to God for help, but instead harnessed their own willpower or decided to get help from people.
While I did not receive too many complaints, though I am not on as many radars as Alan Rock Waterman, of Pure Mormonism, many of my elders and peers, like other religious leaders and faithful churchgoers, would claim that God's existence is fact and refuse to accept any other possibilities.
However, when Yun, in a flashback, says that God does not exist after Ik-su said he prays to God for a living and Yona, in the present time, says that she does not need see a point in asking God for what she wanted, Ik-su did not push his beliefs on either of them and came of feeling like an actual man of God, instead of somebody that a religious body says is God's mouthpiece, though it was helped by the fact that Ik-su lived a carefree life and was laid-back.
Instead of trying to convince people whether or not God exists, we should be trying help people sort out their problems and, as Ik-su told Yun, "rediscover the courage to live their lives", because that is what is really important, in addition to finding out what it is that we really want, and because Mizuho went over this in this volume, I feel like giving her a bit more applause.
The thing that I liked the most though is how Yona refused Ik-su's request.
After asking Ik-su for advice, Yona and Hak talk things over and are then asked by Ik-su to take Yun with them on their journey, but after having spent time with the two of them, Yona says that she cannot do that unless it is what Yun wanted because she did not want to tear a family apart, and the flashback shown of how Yun and Ik-su met really cemented the fact that they were a family.
I liked this because not only did Yona respect the will of others but also because she knew that forcing something that others did not wish for or care to do was not what makes people happy.
Yes, children and adolescents do need limits in what kinds of choices that they can make, but that does not mean that everything they do should be forced.
For example, I have a family member that keeps trying to make me give certain people a certain thing because it is the right thing to do and they think that I not am not selfless enough, but because I am being forced to give something that I never intended to give that person, and it was against my will, that present would not have been given to them in genuine gratitude for all that they have done and that itself is not the right thing to do and helps to solidify the negative appeal of family obligations when families should be doing those things because they want to.
Unfortunately, because many families and society itself is like that, though the abundant greed that religion says is rampant does exist too, do not really respect others wishes, I do not think that people in general will ever do what is right, instead of what is right.
If Yona had not accepted the fact that people had their own wills, I would have been mad, because that would have made her no different from the stereotypical spoiled princess, or rich person, but seeing this side of her makes Yona even more likable than what she came off as right up until the time she and Hak had to deal with the fire tribe, it seems like this series headed in a nice direction.
Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could not be included with what I already talked about.
Because things were still relatively interesting, even with few things of importance happening, and I could get a chuckle out of what was happening, as well as the fact that Yona herself is becoming more likable as a character and no characters pushed their beliefs on others too strongly, this book was fairly enjoyable.
Although I liked the book, there are some issues.
However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, especially those encountered because of the way I normally read manga, and an issue that existed in the last two volumes, but was not as annoying as it was in the first volume, nothing really seemed to bother me too much.
As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.
Considering that there was a lot more to like than hate, this was definitely worth reading.
I mainly recommend this to fans of Yona of the Dawn, because they will be able to enjoy this the most, especially because Yona continues becoming more likable.
As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, as the fact that nothing major happened yet makes this a decent introduction, though things will be a bit confusing without reading the previous volumes.
What are your thoughts on Yona of the Dawn Volume 3? Did you like it or hate it? Was there something that you liked or hated that went unmentioned? Feel free to comment.
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