Akatsuki no Yona Ep. 1: That awkward moment when your love interest murders your dad

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Another shoujo? Sure, why not.

— Especially when it seems like this one will take its protagonists on an adventure. I’m so tired of the high school setting. Sure, there heroine here is still young, and if this was any other anime, she’d be in high school too. But at least I don’t have to deal with all those same cliches. We’ll have other cliches instead!

— In case you’ve forgotten, the titular Yona is in love with her… ahem, cousin, but one day, she finds that he has murdered her dad. Gosh, that’s not cool. Hopefully, that’ll teach the girl to stick to hot bishies that aren’t related to her. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s watch the episode proper.

— I don’t hate the OP. There isn’t any crappy singing, and that’s always a plus in my book.

— On the other hand, I’m a bit wary by the fact that Yona seems to be one of the few female characters in the cast. I’m never a big fan when a story has one character surrounded by nothing but members the opposite sex. It feels harem-ish.

— The surrounding mountains look so small.

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— They’re having a ceremony to celebrate Yona’s upcoming birthday (she’s about to turn 16), but it isn’t necessary for her to appear before the people?

— Meet Hak, one of Yona’s love interests. He’s not only a childhood friend and a servant of hers, he’s also one of the kingdom’s five generals. Pretty prestigious, actually. When I first heard about the show, I thought maybe our princess would eventually fall in love with a servant. But of course, he has to be a badass general in his own right.

— Like another princess this season, Yona is not very endearing at the start of her story. She is downright spoiled and a bit full of herself too. Let’s hope she doesn’t actually encourage genocide at any point in the episode.

— Meet Soo-won, the cousin that our heroine is initially in love with. Yeah, that was the younger him, so he looks kinda… effeminate. Maybe the princess is just in love with herself. This is what he looks like now, but as you can see for yourself, not much has changed (except for the whole murderous bastard part). By the way, Soo-won sounds like a Korean name.

— Yona grumbles that he treats her like a child. She admitted just earlier that they haven’t seen each other in a while, so his last memories of her are from when she was, well, a child. Plus, she’s technically still fifteen for at least another week, so… a child it is. Even if she was 16 already, she’d still be a child in my eyes, but that’s neither here nor there…

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— A-bloo-bloo, she smells of the finest incense and lotions. Give me a break. I’m kind of getting fed up with her already. Hate to say it, but please kill the king already so we can advance the story. I’m not sure how much more I can take of spoiled Princess Yona.

— We get a flashback scene from when Yona and Soo-won were kids. Aaaaaaand she was even more of a brat back then. I guess this was excusable at the time, however, because her mother had just recently passed away. Too bad time hasn’t done the girl any good.

— Soo-won: “I know! I’ll be your mother, Yona!” That’s a tall task. You could start off by being a big sister, bro. I kid, I kiiiiid… Anyway, because he cheered her up during that dark moment in her life, she has been in love with him ever since.

— The next morning, the two bishies play with each other much to Yona’s dismay. Oh, they’re just taking target practice…

— Our jealous princess thus want to participate in the same competition, but her overprotective dad won’t let her be anything but a fine china doll in his castle.

Oh lawwwwwd. Cousin, please! Well, judging by the surrounding geography, I suppose they are the mountain people…

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— Yona: “When he was a child, he was cute like a little girl…” And now he’s pretty like one!

— In an attempt to make Soo-won jealous, Yona claims that have been talks of an engagement between her and Hak. It only blows up in her face, however, when Soo-won congratulates her on said nonexistent engagement. “How could you believe that lie?!” Yona whines. Why don’t you, uh, just tell him how you feel? Naw, I’m just kidding. Obviously, you can’t. What kind of relationship would it be if both parties were open and honest with each other!

— The king is here to rain on Yona’s parade even further: “You can’t have Soo-won!” Uh oh, do you really think putting your foot down now will actually work? It’s okay, princess. He’ll soon be several feet down.

— Yo, he’s always given her whatever she wanted! He then lists off a bunch of superficial stuff like earrings, necklaces, a flower garden…

— Essentially, the man she marries will become king, and he doesn’t want Soo-won to be the king. I’m sure he has his reasons. He’s spoiled his daughter, but I’m not going to assume he’s incompetent at ruling his kingdom. He probably knows something he has never told his fifteen year old daughter. He tells her, however, that marrying Soo-won would only endanger her cousin, but I’m not sure I’d take her father’s words at face value. As expected of an emotional teenager, the princess quickly turns on her own father: “You’re a cowardly king who is too afraid to touch a weapon.” Oh boy…

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— And now it begins. While Yona is sulking all by her lonesome, a hooded figure appears out of nowhere to threaten her life. When she runs into a building to hide, Soo-won grabs her and covers her mouth as if to keep her from making a sound. When the girl tells him about the hooded figure, however, he acts as though he wasn’t even aware that she was being chased. So why did he cover her mouth to muffle her screams, then? Gosh, Soo-won… you’re being shady already!

— I bet Soo-won doesn’t want to get close to Yona, however, because he already knows what he wants to do, i.e. kill her dad. The story is setting Soo-won up to be this tragic figure trapped eventually destroyed by an unfortunate set of circumstances. In another universe, he and Yona probably would probably have gotten married and lived happily ever after. But for whatever reason, he’s after the king’s life, and it isn’t just because he wants the throne. After all, if he just wanted the throne, he would just convince the king to let him marry Yona. The way he’s acting here, he has a personal vendetta.

— Min-soo? Lots of Korean sounding names in this anime, in fact. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this was a Korean drama… oh god, is Yona going to get eye cancer?!

— It’s the day of the big banquet to celebrate Yona’s coming-of-age, but Hak confides in Soo-won that something feels off. He thinks bad people have already infiltrated the castle. Little does he know…

— Meanwhile, all Yona can care about is how much Soo-won loves her hair. So later that night, she goes to see her father to talk about the Soo-won situation some more, but…

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…welp.

— And now, it seems as though she’s about to be executed by those insurgents the king had previously mentioned. That hooded figure chasing her earlier in the episode was probably one of these insurgents too. In any case, Yona cries for Soo-won, but only Hak comes to save her. The episode comes to a close, but I assume he and Yona will soon escape from the castle.

— I don’t know, I was kind of entertained by the first episode. The animation’s not bad, and the characters aren’t completely boring. Sure, I don’t like Yona too much, but it’s the start of the story, so the princess has to come off like a spoiled brat. Now that she’s left the confines of her castle, she has no choice but to grow up. We can then see if Yona’s a character worth caring in the episodes to come.

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8 thoughts on “Akatsuki no Yona Ep. 1: That awkward moment when your love interest murders your dad”

  1. This was one of the shows I was looking forward to, but I actually thought this first episode was kind of bad due to the direction, sound direction, and corny awkward plot. The execution was awful. Studio Pierott is starting to make to make me think that they just make poorly done anime.
    However I think I will stick around and keep watching because the other characters who appear later on look pretty interesting and like a lot of fun. Maybe the princess will be less of an annoying whiny brat after her journey begins

    Also is it just me or did some of the bgm seem like it was in the wrong place? I actually really liked all of the music itself, but the placement was weird.

  2. This is as double-standard-y as them come but for some reason reverse-harem doesn’t bother me all that much. I don’t exactly know why?
    The girl at the center of attention is usually anything extraordinary like the typical harem lead.

    I’m thinking it’s the dude-harem. Granted, I’ve only really watched Ouran Host, a little of that vampire reverse-harem (don’t remember) and most of Hakuouki. But for the most part, the guys are just written MUCH better than a typical haremette. Sure, there are really strict archetypes that the characters follow, but they aren’t really terribly needy or cat-y like how their female counter-parts are.
    It can probably be chalked up to the difference in writers most of the time. Basically a harem story is written by a dude capitalizing on the fetish-fantasies of sad 30-year old virgins. Most likely they don’t give a rat’s ass if the female characters are awesome or not, if they raise libido then great, that’s the goal.
    On the other hand we got someone writing a shoujo reverse-harem written aimed for the girls. And really, do girls want some submissive and feminine guys? Not for all of them, there’s BL for that. So basically guy characters are STACKED with hotness and cool traits that in most cases result in better characters overall. Are they more realistic? Of course not, but they’re much less grating to watch than the bundle of tits and ass that most haremettes can be summed up to in most harem shows nowadays.

    And the show? Eh… it’s fine I guess. The Korean theme is kind of neat though, there’s only so many shows about bishi-Shinsengumi I can watch. I’ll probably give it the obligatory 3-4 episodes before deciding where to go from there.

    1. So you think reverse harem guys aren’t as fanservice oriented as there female counterparts? That’s not necessarily true. The fanservice is just different. In many reverse harems, the male characters’ entire world revolves around the female character. The males are much more overt about their complete and utter devotion to the female character, in spite of her bland looks and personality. The only other people they show any concern for is each other, playing into the BL fanbase that follows there stories as well. They remain fully clothed but watching them collectively go gaga over heroine that looks no different from any other girl in the setting, is so saccharine I feel like vomiting honey from my mouth if I watch longer than 15 minutes.

      I also find the protagonist of many reverse harems to be insufferable. In Ouran, the female main character breaks a vase and suddenly she is surrounded by beautiful men, flown out to exotic locations, and is utterly adored by everyone in school. And she bitches about it. For practically the entire anime, we have to watch this utter bore get dragged kicking and screaming into every girl’s dreamland. By the end, I rooting Haruhi’s rival because she treated Tamaki with some modicum of respect. Yuki and Chizuru are so flat they are practically transparent in terms of being audience surrogates.

      Worst of all is the treatment of other women beside the main lead. In some of the better harems, like Negima or Rosario Vampire (manga only) there are cool supporting male characters like Jack Rakan or Gin. Other stories like High School DxD have male characters with their own subplots, acting as foil to the main lead. Female characters in reverse harems exist only to show how much better the main character is by comparison. They are either a “friend” that is shallow and serves as pedestal to show the main lead’s uniqueness or a rival that is ruthlessly crushed under the main lead’s heel to show her superior morality. For example, in Fruits Basket, rivals Motoko and Kagura disappear from the main plot as soon as they realize how much better Tohru is by comparison. Its disgusting. Girls in reverse harems are either the main lead or utterly worthless.

      1. You’re biased. All that the guy above you said is that he finds male characters in reverse harems more palatable than female characters in regular harems.

        That aside, I disagree with most of what you said.

        >heroine that looks no different from any other girl in the setting,
        There’s two big problems with this. First, have you actually seen reverse harems? Most heroines are absolutely gorgeous. The second is that their [i]main[/i] traits, the ones that ‘attract’ the guys in the context of shoujo, are their kindness, bravery, selflessness, resilience, etc. Just like harem girls are attracted by the main guy being a “nice guy” instead of status/looks, harem guys are attracted to the “nice girl” rather than to a gorgeous bombshell. But despite all this, the people who write the reverse harems go out of their way to give their leads a unique and pretty character design that wouldn’t look out of place in a harem.

        I’m sorry you didn’t like how Haruhi acted in Ouran. I’m not the biggest fan of that series either, however her reactions made sense: what would you do if some rich douchebags declared you were millions in debt because of a stupid vase and then forced you to run silly errands? And how was Tamaki deserving of any respect?

        Also, reverse harems have important female side-characters about as often as regular harems do: examples include that girl who was the [i]only[/i] side-character with a subplot in Hiiro no Kakera, Kourin (and others) in Saiunkoku Monogatari, the pirate lady who knocked some sense into Angelique in Neo Angelique, that fish girl from Kamisama Hajimemashita, that priestess from Harukanaru toki no naka de. In Tokimeki Memorial -Girl’s Side-, which, as a dating sim, is even more shallow than the shallowest anime, you had limited ‘time’ to date dudes, time which you could use to befriend girls instead. Kuragehime has also turned into something of a harem around Tsukimi, and most of its cast is still other girls.

        That said, Fruits Basket is full of important female characters: Tohru’s friends, who get as much face time as any of the male side-characters, Tohru’s mom, Machi, Kisa, Kagura, Isuzu, not to mention Akito herself. All of them have their own character arcs. Then again, Fruits Basket is not a reverse harem,

        >Girls in reverse harems are either the main lead or utterly worthless.
        That’s more or less the point, for exactly the same reason you see so guys worth anything in regular harems.

    2. I’m not interested in making direct comparisons. It’s like cancer vs. AIDS. They’re each bad in their own ways, and they each deserve to be called out in their own ways.

  3. Interesting stuff, though so far I don’t see why this was made into an anime instead of being a live action drama. I guess the murder and scenery wouldn’t look the same but meh.

    All I kept thinking about throughout was Hakuoki. It’s a bishi VN/game series set on an anime version of the Shinsengumi. Made for a female audience, obviously, it’s actually not half bad and the characters are well done. Mostly.

    I wonder if this story will have any genuinely interesting characters, because so far it seems very by-the-numbers.

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