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Comment: Akatsuki no Yona 156 — What Must Not Be Lost

6 Comments
I will never get tired of the Dark Dragon joke.

Sorry for the delay in this post!! April has been a chaotic month of trips and papers for me and I only got to reading the chapter two days ago in a hurry. But hey, they do say better late than never, right?

[WARNING!] Spoilers for Akatsuki no Yona 156 (duh!)



Quick Summary

The Dark Dragon and the Happy Hungry Bunch are back in business! Hak drops down into the battlefield to save Tae-Jun's sorry arse, and Jae-Ha, Shin-ah, and Kija save a bunch of Fire Tribe soldiers that were praying for their lives to King Hiryuu and the gods. Meanwhile, Kyo-Ga is watching how his army is falling out of formation. A high-ranking officer pleads him to retreat, but Kyo-Ga doesn't listen. In his inner monologue he curses the situation, as reinforcements from Saika are nowhere near arriving and Kai's troops are much too strong... but just then he sees, in the distance, the bodies of Kai soldiers being thrown around into the air — it's the three dragons and Hak, fending off the enemy army. He can't quite make out who they are. Suddenly an enemy soldier is shot by an arrow, and when he follows its path he finds Yona, who he isn't able to identify either. He wonders why these people are helping them, and is about to say that the strange creatures on the battlefield remind him of ~something~, but just then one of his officers informs him that Kai's troops are retreating, and he pulls his attention back towards the battle. He urges his men to press forward and attack with all they have, and they send Kai's troops running back towards the border in retreat.
Atop the cliff, Ogi remarks to himself how otherworldly the power of the dragons is. Yun, Yona, and Zeno are about to pack up and leave now that the Kai Empire has retreated, but Yun spots Hak&co. getting surrounded by Fire soldiers.
Back on the battlefield; the Fire soldiers identify the White Dragon, the Green Dragon, and the Blue Dragon, and Hak introduces himself as "The Dark Dragon, of the brilliant shadow blade," and the Fire soldiers lose their shit. Kyo-Ga comes through and recognises Hak, and in consequence realises the red-haired woman atop the cliff must be Yona. He tells them they're coming with him back to Saika, threatening to hurt Yona if they don't, and Hak threatens him back. Tae-Jun steps in to tell his brother that Yona was the one who helped revive the wastelands of the Fire Tribe, and that because she has helped them once again they should let her go. Kyo-Ga, however, is having nothing of that. He questions why Tae-Jun didn't report the fact that Princess Yona was alive, and calls him a betrayer. Tae-Jun decides that he can call it what he will, but Yona is the one who set him on the right path, and that he won't let anybody harm her — not even Kyo-Ga.
Yona comes down the cliff and tells Kyo-Ga (who is stunned by how different she is from the little Princess that was nothing more than decoration) that Su-Won already knows they're alive. Just then the men start talking how this is just like in the legend: crimson-red hair and the Four Dragons. They tell Kyo-Ga that the Four Dragons and Princess Yona, she of red hair and royal blood, have come to save them — almost as if the Heavens had sent King Hiryuu to help them. They remark that hurting them would be equal to blasphemy against the gods, which leaves Kyo-Ga stupefied.
Atop the cliff, Yun is stunned at the Fire Tribe's soldiers' change of heart. Zeno tells him that the Fire Tribe has always been particularly strong in its worship to King Hiryuu, and that there is no way of stopping their elation. Ogi, though, points out to himself that the problem is much bigger than that... Hiryuu is the forefather of this nation, and the Four Dragons are messengers of the Heavens. Yona possess a divine power Su-Won doesn't, and if word spreads of it she'll become an even greater threat to the crown.

Comment

(I'm going to be very disappointed if this isn't how Hiryuu makes his comeback, actually)

It's been a month of AkaYona drought and boy we are on FIRE! (hahaha, get it? cos we're in the Fire Tribe?) ((somebody handcuff me, it must be ilegal to be this witty))
As some had already suspected from the ending of 155, the similarities between the fight scene in 156 and the all-round flashforward of the anime's second episode seem more than just a coincidence. Though this too was my first thought with that last page of 155 and there's no denying the scene are almost like two peas in a pod (minus that very jolly shot of Ao squealing and Jae-ha's diva hair-flip at the beginning), I'm tempted to think it's more that the anime scene served as inspiration for Kusanagi to draw this scene rather than the other way around.

But setting anime and manga comparisons aside! Let's move onto the actual story-related content of the chapter. When 154 rolled on, swiftly tying off the last strings of the Xing arc and making way for new troubles, some might remember I pitched the idea of this possibly being the last arc because of Kai's involvement in the mess. Now, this is an idea I'm still on-board with: Kai is like the shady Dr. Claw at the end of every Inspector Gadget episode — they're the antagonists by excellence, the Big Baddied, The Great Evil; call it what you will, but they've been the puppeteers pulling the strings behind most major shady incidents in Kouka, and according to Hak's deductions Su-Won's been building an army to face the Kai Empire square-on. So it only makes sense that Kai would be the ultimate force to be defeated, unless Kusanagi decides to pull a rabbit out of a hat on us and introduce something grander.
But... is this the time for that? With every passing chapter I'm growing increasingly nervous that we're not actually entering a Kai arc yet at all, and that this is just a plot device to spare Tae-Jun from losing his head. Maybe this means this is a PRELUDE to the end, or just the overture of it. Or perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps we're nowhere as near to the end as I'd hoped and we're in for some milking. After three years of commentaries on the clock, is this where I am fated to meet with disappointment???!!?!? ヽ(#゚Д゚)ノ┌┛

But in all seriousness, I saw quite a large amount of backlash happening on tumblr after the release of this chapter, particularly aimed at the way people throw themselves on their knees every time Yona enters the scene because she's Extra Special™ (Yona used Fiery Glare! It's very effective!).
*cue eye-rolls from thousands of exasperated fans*

And whilst I do agree that it's getting tiresome to see characters remark on how amazeballs the transformation she's gone through is (though let's be honest, it'd be odd if they didn't), and acknowledge there's an aspect of AkaYona that is getting predictable because it suffers from a bad case of The Good Guys Always Win, a lot of people seem to forget that this is a shojo manga.
"So what? That doesn't mean it can't be sophisticated! >:(" Truth, to be sure. But AkaYona is already miles ahead from what most other shojo mangas have dared to introduce, including questions of politics and the subjectivity of justice, which is pretty heavy for a Hana to Yume manga. No, that does not mean Kusanagi cannot make its narrative more complex and engaging for us long-term readers that have caught onto the fact that Yona wears invincible Plot Armour, but remember that this manga is aimed at young teens between 14~18 years of age. Maybe we've dug our own graves by writing overly complicated analyses on blogs run by obsessed fans expecting too much from the series. (Speaking about nobody in particular of course, nope, nobody at all, harharhar). So in light of all this, please indulge me whilst I put out a bit of word-vomiting in praise for this series, to balance out (not errase or deny; balance!) the pent up criticism that exploded like Mt. Vesuvius when this chapter came out. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

156 brings to the foreground in a more obvious manner a low-key theme that's actually been present for a good chunk of the series: The distortion of fact and the ignorance of truth. We saw it when Su-Won murdered the king and fooled the kingdom into thinking his ascension to the throne was legitimate, but it's a theme that we've started to see more clearly since the Xing arc, where Kouren's distorted conviction that Su-Won was a cold-blooded tyrant out to enslave her people drove her kingdom almost to self-destruction. It comes back like a boomerang, yet again, when Zeno in 155 questions whether his understanding of what kind of person Hiryuu was and what his aspirations were wasn't biased or distorted. Now, perhaps this isn't something Kusanagi set herself out to accomplish, but I find it quite amazing how through Yona's journey to errase her own ignorance, she has exposed how our perception of "truth" (be that state-controlled truths like the writing of history, or misunderstandings spawned by assumptions, as in Zeno's case with Hiryuu) affects the world and the people in it.
I feel that this theme suddenly slaps me in the face during Ogi's inner monologue in the last pages of 156. Though Kye-Sook remarked on the potential threat Yona could pose to the crown when he met with the fact of her survival, it's quite jarring to see Ogi, a character with no governmental power whatsoever, acknowledged the kind of power Yona wields just by existing. As he very accurately identifies, the problem goes beyond just a few excited soldiers deluding themselves into thinking the Heavens have sent Hiryuu and the Four Dragon Warriors to protect them. There's a lot of other stuff at play here, and what the chapter exhibits is the threat that zealous religious conviction, embodied by a tribe that fervently worships King Hiryuu and the legend of him, can pose to the balance of power. But most importantly what he underlines is that truth is worthless — That it doesn't actually matter whether Yona is Hiryuu incarnate or not, so long as the people think she is. And just as haters gonna hate, people will believe what they want to believe.
Heck, it's not even so much about Yona herself as it is about the Four Dragons: they are the actual physical proof of divine intervention, because their powers are very real. So long as they stand by Yona's side it's clear ~The Heavens~ side with her, and I'm using that as a blanket term for everything divine and godly and whatever the frikity-frik sits atop Kouka's clouds. Who cares whether Yona is fit to rule, or if she even wants to rule, or whether Su-Won is a just king: the point is that once word spreads that those rumours about the Four Dragons appearing on the battlefield were true, and people start believing Yona is Hiryuu, descended once again to rule a kingdom yet tyrannically stripped of her royal birthright by a ~fraud~, things could get very messy.
I mean, if Fire was willing to depose a king and go to war for Soo-Jin because he claimed to be a descendant of Hiryuu and the rightful sovereign, who's to say they wouldn't do the same for Yona? And even if that's not what Yona wants, Ik-Soo did say that her life would create a storm that would shake Kouka — if other people across Kouka catch wind of this, it could become the spark that lights a rebellion against the Capitol Su-Won for being an illegitimate king, cleaving the kingdom in half and leaving it vulnerable (is this where Kai comes in?). The moment people acknowledge Yona as the rightful heir (「王家の血を引くヨナ姫」"She of royal blood, Princess Yona") and ~the Heavens' Chosen One~, it's all over for Su-Won... and Ogi is very right to fear that.

It's also why Kyo-Ga's face of absolute stupor is 100% justified, when he hears his soldiers say that laying a hand on Yona&co. would be akin to blasphemy towards the gods. This is a nightmare come true to him. In case you haven't noticed, that depiction of the Red Dragon in the last page of 156 is the same as the one we see in 68 during the chapters of Soo-Jin's rebellion — back when Kyo-Ga was just as much of a Hiryuu devotee as everyone else in his tribe. In fact, when he hears Kai's Province of Sen is invading, he specifically says that the people of the Fire Tribe are "descendants of King Hiryuu," and that should Sen's army attack, they will "burn them to the ground with the flames of the Red Dragon."
Oh, how things have changed... Soo-Jin's betrayal to the crown has disappointed Kyo-Ga so greatly, that he now goes so far as to deny King Hiryuu's existence (「緋龍王などいない!」) and point his father's claims out as "illusions" (幻想, that I translated as "delusions"). So what will his next move be? Will he reproach the soldiers for their attachment to a dusty, old fable? Will he break through Yona's plot armour and drag her all the way back to Saika? Or will he let this slip, dissuaded by his men's pious cries?

Last but not least, before I leave ya'll and seeing as we're talking about the Kan family, I have to say that the star of this chapter was Tae-Jun. I was so proud to see him stand up for his beliefs, rather than quaver and give into Kyo-Ga's accusations — that he does not consider what he has done as  betrayal, and that he will not let anyone harm Yona. Well done Tae-Jun, you are a good macaroni and I love you for it.

Well then my lovelies, I'll stop pretending to be some high-seated intellectual (to begin with I don't wear glasses, and everyone knows clever people wear glasses) and leave my comment at this. What do you think will happen in tomorrow's (20th of April) chapter? I'm too devoted to this series to watch it go down in flames as it gets milked for its popularity and make it out in one piece *sobs*, but I'm a ride-or-die kind of fan and will stick through, whatever Kusanagi throws our way. Besides, there is still hope for us: Hak urges Kyo-Ga to investigate what is going on with Kai, which has me thinking we haven't seen the last of these soldiers yet. See you lovelies for 157!


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Posted on: 19/04/2018



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6 comments:

  1. To be perfectly honest, I don't understand why the criticism of "too much praise!!" gets leveled at Yona alone when... well, ALL the main characters pretty much get the same treatment. Hak's strength gets praised up and down, and the Wind Tribe pretty near worships him. The dragons get constant praise for their abilities too. And of course, all of them get plenty of admiration simply for being good-looking and very frequently earn themselves throngs of admirers. Suwon gets a lot of praise for being super smart and powerful, AND things come out in his favor just as often as they immerge in Yona's because their interests often overlap. Kouka as a whole gets gawked at for being full of cool and powerful people.

    I feel like this has to be a criticism of the way people react to ALL the main cast in akayona, rather than a problem with just Yona. Because as it stands, this criticism comes across as really iffy when it could apply to everyone, but is only treated as bothersome when applied to the main female character.

    Like you said; with Kyo-ga and even Kye-sook especially, these reactions are warranted. They thought she was long dead, and before that she was just a silly, naive princess who never left the castle. Why WOULDN'T they be shocked and stupefied that that princess is now leading a group of supernatural badasses, wielding a bow and arrow, and that the king lied about her being gone? And why can't a female character written to inspire young girls be praised as much as all the boys? Why does it make people so mad with her, when the others get more praise than they know what to do with too?

    I just... don't get it and the backlash really disappointed me with the fandom this chapter. Sure, people reacting to Yona isn't as satisfying as it used to be, because I've seen it before. But if I was 12 or 14? Seeing people react to Yona like this would make me feel powerful and proud as a girl, like so little media does. I've been in too many fandoms where female characters are criticized for the same stuff male characters get without a word of protest, or hell, for the things male characters are praised about. I'd thought this one wouldn't be like that, but I guess that was too naive.

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    1. Oh boy, THIS ^^^^^^^^^

      You've pretty much hit the nail on the head with that comment for me, so I have little to add, BUT! I think perhaps what makes Yona an easy target for this backlash is that she falls into the CHOSEN ONE category, given that she is, well... a god incarnate prophesied to shake the country up, and people might be feeling that she's badass simply because CHOSEN ONE REASONS. I personally don't agree with this, because Yona has fought her way to the top and we've seen her progress... but I can see how other characters cowering before her fiery-Hiryuu glare could prompt some readers to write her off as a Mary Sue.

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  2. I always thought the opening scene of the anime was hope that there will be seasons.
    I doubt that this series will be milked anywhere near the level of One Piece, Dragon Ball, & Naruto. (Hell, in the Big Mom arc in OP the fight dragged on so frigging long that they took a snack break! Another annoyance is the promise threat of it being live action like a weekly series.)

    I think that this is where we will see more of the prophecy coming to light. Since more of the public is becoming aware of all the help Yona has been doing for the kingdom...I don't really know what Soo-won is hoping for, he has claimed to love both Yona & Hak hating himself for betraying them all because "there are things he must do". What those things are are still a mystery.
    Yona & the Dragons have been cleaning up the massive messes Soo-won left after his fights. Ideally they need to have a talk about how to improve their country without causing harm to their subjects.

    & since this is 1 of 3 manga/anime series (The Slayers season 1 & Berserk 1997 version) that even mention mensuration, I can't help but think there is something important about it. Although since you mentioned that this is shojo for teenage girls, perhaps it's nothing more than meant to empower girls.

    I wonder what will happen with the storm & how it will affect everyone, but I'm guessing it's going to be a 3-way war between Soo-won, Yona, & Kai. But hope that the civil war will wait until after the Kai strikes. Either way it won't be good, The Wind, Fire soldiers, & least half the water tribes are pro-Yona while the Sky & Earth are pro Soo-won.
    IDK, hard to predict.

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  3. I think I know a couple of those "obsessive" people who have legitimate criticsm towards the manga, since it is now pretty predictable...After all every difficulty the main character had to face since the Xing Arc got resoved "literally by magic" or convenient events.
    I mean for real? The guy might be in trouble and now the event he had predicted is occuring? What?!
    The main character jumps into a rain of arrows and the Dragon s magic rescues her...

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    1. It's not that I deny this criticism; honestly, a lot of the stuff I've read I agree with. It's just that this being a shojo manga (and one that I am very obsessed and invested in) I'm more willing to cut it some slack, especially because I think the main themes of the series are incredibly commendable ^^
      In any case, everyone is entitled to their opinion and that people who say recent developments in the story have been very convenient aren't wrong; I think it's more a difference on how we enjoy reading & analysing the series ^^

      (btw, when I said "obsessive fans" I was 100% talking about myself >.<)

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  4. Hello I am the person with the anonymous comment.

    I say this because the manga had originally a set up where the main character had to work to achieve her goals...Like in Awa, where she shot Kumji, she had to learn how to use a bow.

    So here she put an effort into it and learned. She developed, but as it is recently that stopped.

    I mean the action isn t there anymore, when I can be 200 % sure that the main person doesn t "achieve" anything, but the things she wishes for will be dumped in the palm of her hand.

    I mean...I am more or less accustomed to Yona getting praised. That is not even that what many criticize in the forums I have visited and written to...It is that actions which are not exactly wise aren t adressed at all as such, but are even the cause why she "earns praise."

    I think it is amazing if a girl is able to influence people in a positive way like Yona did and still does, but I think that her decisions that are hard to perceive as "great" should not "just be celebrated". A person inside of her group could have told her that a few of her decisions might have been dangerous.

    But yeah..it could be that there are also people who maybe just hate that she gets praise...But that isn t the case for everybody. That was all I wanted to add. Thank you!^^

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