Alright, let’s see if I annoy anyone with my views on the show this week. Of course, I don’t set out with the goal of being a contrarian. It just always turns out this way. I also find it funny that someone thinks I curse too much. These aren’t reviews; I have no interest in sounding professional… unless, of course, someone wants to pay me to be professional. But that’s neither here nor there, so let’s get started on the episode already.
— Hak ends up taking a lot of punishment just to protect the princess. She gets all the benefits of standing up for herself, but takes none of the punishment. And this isn’t an equality thing, i.e. men are getting hurt so women should get hurt too! I just think she can’t really be empowered if she’s coddled like this. Part of gaining agency is that you get to make your own authentic choices in life after carefully weighing the pros and cons. But there are no consequences here, so likewise, there are no choices for her to make.
— Or to put it another way, we still make our characters fall into carefully-defined gender roles. Yeah, Yona gets to look cool by asserting herself just a tiny bit. But at the end of the day, it’s Hak’s job to take her punishment for her. It’s Hak’s job to bear the brunt of the physical pain. We won’t dare lay a finger on dainty, lil’ Yona because she’s the princess. Her skin must forever be soft and perfect with nary a scar to be found. I mean, look, if you want to be a warrior princess who reclaims your kingdom, you’re going to have to let yourself get roughed up a little bit. It’s fucking lame that the guy ends up getting cut in ten places while Yona just cries his name then slides down a slope to save Hak. That’s not empowerment. That’s patronizing. At the end of the day, her biggest loss is losing some of her hair. That’s weak, man.
— And I’m not saying Yona doesn’t feel any pain whatsoever. Obviously, she had to suffer through the death of her father, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But the end of the day, we are still confining ourselves to the same, familiar roles. Women are supposed to feel great emotional pain because that’s just how it is. Men are supposed to feel great physical pain because that’s just how it is. Again, this is why I wanted Yona to spend some time alone and truly, truly step outside of her comfort zone. Losing a chunk of your hair — in a very perfect way, I might add — is not stepping outside of your comfort zone. It’s a joke. It belittles the idea of true empowerment. Like when Elliot Reid from Scrubs becomes a new person because she got a sassy, new haircut. Are you fucking kidding me? I’ll assert myself by getting a fancy, new ‘do! And shit, her hair looks perfectly fine. The story can’t even get that sacrifice right.
— It’s pretty funny that these soldiers are proud to defeat Hak. All it took was outnumbering him 200 to 1, and also weakening him with an arrow laced with poison. Real honorable. And hey, there’s no such thing as fairness in war, but I just laugh at the notion that these guys think they’ve accomplished anything.
— Anyway, Yona and Hak end up falling from those cliffs and into the valley together, but we know they’re okay. Remember that guy they were supposed to find? I bet he finds them instead, then nurses our heroes back to good health. Everyone else thinks they’re dead, of course, and this is probably the best thing that could’ve happened. Yona and Hak can thus go about their business until the former is strong enough to mount any sort of resistance against Soo-won and his allies.
— This bit of news nevertheless hits Soo-won hard. Probably shouldn’t have murdered Yona’s father, then.
— Oh hey, what do you know? That important someone finds our lovely couple.
— Ahhhhhhhh, more flashbacks! Plus, it’s the type of flashback that would make an inclined audience want to ship Hak and Soo-won. Yeah, that’s right. Hak and Soo-won. After all, the guys are talking about important, kingly matters… like Hak being Soo-won’s invaluable right hand, wink. As for Yona, they make her sound all whiny and childish instead. I mean, I thought he’d despair some more over Yona after hearing about her death, but it feels like he’s more hung up on the fact that Hak won’t be by his side.
— Afterwards, Soo-won officially becomes the king. He hardly feels secure, though. He knows he has enemies on all sides. He nevertheless hopes to unite the fragmented clans under his rule. But through all of this, there is never any talk about the people. Why does Soo-won want to become a king? Why does Yona want to reclaim her kingdom? What does it all mean if none of the focus is on the people that you rule? He pays lipservice to the idea that he’ll wield the power of the people, but I see nothing being done on that front. It’s just a power struggle between the leaders of the various faction, and the people who truly suffer are the ones we barely get to see. At the end of the day, it’s hard to be too sympathetic towards any of these characters.
— Haha, sure.
— Man, fuck the smile. What will the new ruler mean for the peop–… meh, nobody really cares.
— So Yona wakes up to find Yun tending to her. He’s also a self-proclaimed bishounen. Hak, on the other hand, hasn’t fared too well. In the end, he still protected her during the fall. Hilarious.
— Then we get silly comedy out of nowhere. I also think it’s sad that people think there aren’t any alternatives between comedy and grimdark seriousness. Like really, this is going off-topic, but people think my objections to the pathetic comedy in Your Lie in April means that I want the show to have a grimdark atmosphere. Talk about a straw man. Likewise, I don’t feel as though these comedic bits from Akatsuki no Yona enhance the storytelling whatsoever, but that doesn’t mean I want the show to be grimdark.
— Then this clumsy idiot shows up, and… well, it’s just distracting. I want a shoujo about a princess empowering herself and becoming the people’s champion. Not some formulaic reverse harem, which this anime might become if it keeps throwing all sorts of bishies at us. But anyway, this guy is Ik-su, and he’s the priest that Yona and Hak were originally supposed to locate before they ran into the Fire Tribe. Yay. End episode.