I don’t often have an open “slot” on my binge watch card especially when it’s basically how I am able to provide reviews to you lovely readers on the regular but it just so happened I had a spot opened up and I polled my many Catholic otakus and many of them told me that the first season of Yona of the Dawn was a definitely a must see. Now having watched it I can definitely see why.
I notice often in fantasy anime that it’s usually light on the character development, choosing to focus on a more plot driven story line (a la “Fairy Tale”). That in and of itself is not a terrible idea but often especially with the long running story lines (still lookin’ at you, Fairy Tale) you run into the problem of having to continually reinvent badder-than-the-last-baddie villians, and more-powerful-than-the-last-powered-up-power abilities to drive the story. This gets a little repetitive and it’s why many people just stop watching after eight or ten seasons (this also happens in live action shows like…Supernatural ). Refreshingly, Yona of the Dawn delights as it has picked a character development driven plot and delivers a great story as a result.
Yona is a spoiled, shallow and rather frivolous princess who suddenly gets caught up in a polticial coup. Suddenly deposed, homeless and hunted Yona and her loyal body guard, Son Hak, set out on the road uncertain of what the future might hold for either of them. Over the course of the first season, Yona discovers a deeper more meaningful life through her suffering and tribulations (a pretty clear nod to the power of redemptive suffering). In an effort to avoid spoilers I’ll stop there with my summary, but it’s definitely a must watch for anyone who is interested in a pseudo-period drama with lots of interesting fantasy elements and rich vibrant characters.
As a Catholic I’m questioned often about the point of suffering, and why a benevolent God allows bad things to happen to relatively good people. Yona of the Dawn really makes the purpose of suffering meaningful as you watch Yona proceed over, under and through numerous obstacles both internal and external. It underscores in beautiful detail what we already know as Catholics but sometimes forget when confronted with our own troubles. That suffering is often a way that God perfects us for our ultimate purpose.
Things of note: The show is a bit slow to start, but stick with it. There is moderate blood and violence, so for the not for the little kiddies. I would recommend it for ages 13 and up. Happily as of now it is also still streaming on Hulu. So you can sit yourself down and watch it in a few sittings.
For those of you looking for news about a possible season 2, hang tight. Perriot Studios has kept Yona of the Dawn Season 2 in anime limbo since 2015 when the English Dub finally aired. It’s been neither cancelled nor renewed so as of right now its fate is very much up in the air. It has a significantly large following so it’s got a hopeful future, with some whispers of a late 2017 release but as of right now no official season 2 announcements have been made.