Welp, now that a relationship with her own cousin no longer sounds like a good idea, let’s start arguing why Yona should get with the other bishie instead. Too bad his name is Hak.
— Blah blah blah, marrying your cousin was normal back then, and still normal now in some places. Yes, I know that. Do you think I care? Of course not.
— Perhaps the subs aren’t quite accurate, because I don’t see what’s so insulting about “happy-go-lucky.”
— There’s always a bishie who has to be blunt with his words. He also tends to be the one that comes out ahead of the pack, too. I wouldn’t say that most girls like assholes, ’cause really, at the end of the day, these are just stories. They indulge our fantasies, but if push came to shove, we wouldn’t exactly make these same decisions in real life. Nevertheless, these stories seem to get it into their heads that the resulting romance would be boring if there wasn’t underlying tension between the two love interests. And perhaps that is true, but when every story ends up playing itself out in the same way, perhaps it would be wise to make yourself stand out by breaking free of these cliches. Plus, you could always substitute that sort of tension with, y’know, sexual tension, but the average anime would never, ever entertain that idea.
— We learn that, initially, Hak wanted nothing to do with royalty. And yet, we know he’ll soon throw himself in harm’s way for Yona. If anything, I bet it was Yona who even changed his mind.
— And here she comes a-runnin’.
— Hak: “When I’m around the princess, I lose my mind.” Oh boy, he already liked her from the very start! Tsk tsk, he should’ve just been honest with himself. All that talk about how he can’t get along with royalty and whatnot, but when it comes right down to it, he probably knows that he has no chance with Yona unless some drastic happens. Like, y’know, her cousin murdering her father and seizing the throne in a bloody coup. Yeah, that!
— I know it’s a flashback from the past and everything, but I dislike how much shorter Yona was compared to the male love interests. Makes the whole thing seem wrong. C’mon, he’s a full head taller than her!
— Even back then, people were trying to court the young Yona. Remember, she only just turned 16 in the present timeline, so she’s only 13 in this flashback. The whole “He keeps inviting me to play with him” thus sounds even worse. And like the cousin thing, I realize they also married young back then, buuuuuuut I don’t really care. Nasty is nasty, yo. There’s a reason why Yona is now 16. It’s still young, but even the anime doesn’t want to entertain the idea of marrying her off before then.
— What am I looking for in this particular flashback? A reason to believe Hak when he said that the princess makes him lose his mind (up in here, up in here). I mean, this is a romance anime, so you gotta convince me that the love interests actually have their reasons to like each other. So far, I don’t see anything particularly special about the princess…
— Oh boy, she brought him some fruit. Gonna need a little more than that.
— So that suitor was being inappropriate with Yona — “When you struggle with a kitten’s strength, it makes me want to touch you more” — which forced Hak to take action. Okay, ain’t nothing wrong with saving someone from trouble, but…
— Wanna know how Hak saves the princess? By saying, “And who gave you permission to touch my princess.” Look across the shoujo landscape, and you see this same cliche all the time: whenever the main bishie protects the heroine from unwanted advances, he always does so by staking some sort of claim on the girl. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Or does it simply reflect what a lot of women have come to realize, and that is that other men won’t respect your “No!” unless it is also backed by the threat of another male? I know a lot of girls will wear a fake wedding ring just to keep themselves from being hit on in public. This is the same idea.
— Now, we have the classic dick-measuring contest. I’m the second son of blah blah blah. Fine then, I’m Yona’s personal bodyguard! As you can see, Hak talked himself into a corner. Still not seeing why he likes Yona so much, though. Maybe the flashback should’ve gone back even further to when he started liking her in the first place.
— Uh, Il just walks up and grabs the suitor’s blade, cutting his own hand in the process:
You’d think an arm bar would’ve done the trick. Still, dude didn’t even flinch from the pain. There are hints here and there that suggest that the late king wasn’t quite the pushover that people often took him for.
— We’re back in the present, and Hak goes, “I will protect your unfinished business.” That just sounds… odd.
— Now it’s Yona’s turn to have a flashback of her own, and we go even further back. But it’s another memory of her and… it’s not a very compelling one. She, Soo-won, and Hak were all kids, they played in the snow, then they got sick. Meh, this feels a bit frivolous. We learn that Hak was an orphan, but other than that, this flashback is boring. I dare say it’s a bit annoying too as Yona throws a tantrum because her father couldn’t come visit her. I know this is how children act, but it doesn’t mean the scene is any less insufferable.
— So the adults shit-talk the king right outside Yona’s room, and the walls are thin enough for her to hear anything. They either did it deliberately, or they’re just incredibly stupid. With anime, I can’t really tell.
— Soo-won: “But I wish the three of us could have slept together, with our colds, forever.” Riiiiiiight…
— Holy shit, 17 minutes have come and gone, and we’ve seen nothing but flashbacks.
— The girl remains in her near-catatonic state. I’m not surprised. She just lost her dad. Not sure it was really necessary to see her naked, but whatever. At least she didn’t slap the guy for removing leeches off of her body.
— In the end, she wanders into a nest of snakes, forcing Hak to save her once again. She endangered herself just for a stupid hairpin that Soo-won had given her, which shows that the girl isn’t quite ready to let go of her first love despite, y’know, him murdering her father. Still, Hak is just content that the hairpin got her to temporarily snap out of her malaise. I don’t know if I’d feel the same way. I sympathize with the girl for losing her father, but I can’t understand her desire to hold onto Soo-won. Not after everything he’s done.
— Speaking of Soo-won, he tells his people to stop looking for Yona and Hak. Obviously, he still cares about her as well. I’m going to flip a table or something, however, if he gets to live peacefully with the rest of them when this is all said and done.
— As for the episode overall, eh… I didn’t mind the first flashback too much, but again, I still feel as though we’re missing that one crucial thing: why does Hak like Yona so much? As for the second flashback, I know it’s supposed to show us the good ol’ days that Yona so desperately wishes she could have back, but it went on for way too long. In the end, Yona and Hak still haven’t made their way out of the forest. The pacing is dragging a bit, no? I hear this is a two-cour series, though… so I guess we can afford to dawdle.