ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Yona of the Dawn’ Volume 26

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Yona of the Dawn Volume 26

To the collective screams of Yona fans, the last volume ended on one of the series’ more intense cliffhangers to date. Yona of the Dawn Volume 26 by Mizuho Kusanagi focuses on the aftermath of this incident and provides a solid conclusion to the Xing story arc. Published in English by Viz Media under their Shojo Beat label; it is translated by JN Productions, adapted by Ysabet Reinhardt McFarlane, and features touch-up art and lettering by Lys Blakeslee.

After the four dragon warriors manifested the spirits of the dragons to save Yona from a flood of arrows, priest Gobi takes advantage of the spectacle to stoke fear in the witnesses and further his agenda. The citizens don’t yet know that Gobi was masquerading as “anti-war” to attempt a power grab, and his fear-mongering puts the now incapacitated Gija, Sinha, Jaeha, and Zeno in danger. Yona and Hak must fight with Princess Kouren to get her and Tao to meet and negotiate with Su-won, in the hopes of preventing war.

The last part of this volume focuses on the aftermath of that meeting, so I shall say little to avoid spoilers. However, readers will be happy that Yona finally addresses kissing Hak in volume 24 in the most comically adorable way possible. A true highlight is the Happy Hungry Bunch’s reactions as spectators to the world’s most oblivious endgame couple.

At 26 volumes in, it is difficult to not sound repetitive when I’m trying to convince people to read it, but the Xing arc is such a stunning display of years of character development. Kusanagi illustrates so many different sides and pain of these political conflicts and isn’t afraid to kill a character or two off to remind you of the stakes of the situation. It never feels gratuitous, but it hits strong emotional beats every time. Yona of the Dawn Volume 26 also puts a brief spotlight once again on Hak’s grief. He has found a family but is still struggling to reconcile his past love of Su-won with his hatred for him now. The series never makes this feel as though Su-won should be forgiven, only that Hak’s hatred might be holding him back from personal happiness.

I also always have to spotlight Yona of the Dawn’s treatment of women. They are allowed to be wrong. They are allowed to cry, and be disasters while also wielding a bow or a sword. Not all of them fight the ones that don’t aid characters in other ways and make bold political moves. This volume allows us to see Yona, Kouren, Tao, and Riri all approach their positions in drastically different ways, but nonetheless push each other forward together. When the men in the series defend the women, it never feels condescending because everyone is trying to protect their loved ones. The women aren’t singled out as “in need of protection.” This is truly a found family story at its finest.

Kusanagi’s art is beautiful and brings back memories of older shojo fantasies such as the works of Yuu Watase. Characters’ faces are soft and beautiful, but as soon as they are angry or embarrassed the lines get bolder and the shading darker. It makes the emotional shifts in characters stand out all the more.

Yona of the Dawn Volume 26 wraps up an absolutely stunning story arc in this fantasy series. The agency and growth of characters are on full display this volume, with a little more lighthearted fun towards the end. This might truly be one of the best manga series of all time.

Yona of the Dawn Volume 26 will be available Oct. 6th, 2020 wherever manga are sold.


Yona of the Dawn Volume 26
5

TL;DR

Yona of the Dawn Volume 26 wraps up an absolutely stunning story arc in this fantasy series. The agency and growth of characters are on full display this volume, with a little more lighthearted fun towards the end. This might truly be one of the best manga series of all time.