I dropped Akatsuki no Yona after its 4th episode last season because I thought the story was executed badly. Luckily, with a little help from my friends of MAL, I’m picking it up again.
I surely don’t regret it now. It is not clear on how many episodes Akatsuki no Yona will have. But for the foreseeable future, I will be recapping this series starting with this episode.
Summary (WARNING: This section contains spoilers. You may skip to the comments section if you like.)
Let’s begin this recap by putting the entire first cour in a nutshell: Yona’s father, the King, gets killed by his nephew, Su-won. Yona and Hak fled the palace and barely made it alive to Hak’s hometown. Yona and Hak leave again to find a mysterious and elusive priest. After encountering more bad intentions, they find the priest, who is not quite what they thought he’d be, and his bishounen genius companion. The priest then gives them the mission and asks to take with them his bishounen genius companion. Yona, Hak and Yun then take leave to find and gather the Four Dragons from legend who are now in human form.
On their way to the first Dragon, Yona and Hak have disputes about Yona handling weapons. Yona defends her stance, saying that she can’t just watch people die protecting her, she must also be able to protect them as well. Hak relents, giving her his newly bought bow for her to practice on.
In the meantime back in the capital, Soo-won is crowned King of Kouka after getting the clan leaders’ approval.
Yona and the gang find the White Dragon Ki-ja, a sheltered boy heavily protected in a secluded village where the people are friendly much to everyone’s surprise. They leave the hidden village to find the next Dragon. Though still not used to life outside his village, Ki-ja vaguely points to the direction where the next Dragon might be. Yun narrows it down to the barren mountainous border in the north. They follow his directions and find yet another village carved under a mountain. It’s still secluded but this time, the people are less hospitable and mysteriously grim. In an unusual series of events, the gang meets a masked man who turns out to be the Blue Dragon.
That’s about it I guess. Now onto the thirteenth episode!
The masked man has run away. He tries to compose himself despite feeling a rush of blood in his eyes. He then remembers the voice echoing in his head, ordering him to serve Hiryuu, as he grabbed Yona’s hand from the attacker. Muddled, he struggles to recover after the incident with Yona and laying eyes on Ki-ja, whom he thought and saw as a white dragon. Maybe it was the pain but he went back to his resolve of never letting anyone know of his power.
[Cuts to the opening theme. I’m not as surprised as I thought I would be when I found out they’re using the same theme and sequence.]
The three guys scold Yona for straying away and almost getting attacked. Ki-ja and Hak vow, albeit childishly, to avenge her. Ki-ja is sure that the masked man they saw was the Blue Dragon but they’re all confused as to why he ran away and why the village is different. Yun points out that the villagers may not be revering the red hair and that they regard the dragon’s power as abominable.
Yona muses about the masked man, how he saved her, how his hand was gentle, and how she still wants to meet him again even if it means going back into the maze. Yun wonders how she is unfazed by all this.
Hak grabs Yona’s hand and orders her to stay, telling her not to go back into the maze. But Yona disagrees, saying that she, Ki-ja and Yun will go while he waits. She assures him she won’t let anything happen to her again and that she needs him to stay.
He pulls her closer marking this episode’s kyaa~ moment, this time, holding both her hands, He orders her then to come back. Otherwise, he’ll “stick annoying close to her”. Yona says she doesn’t want to be annoyed so she assures him again that she’ll be careful.
Hak calls out to White Snake, much to the latter’s annoyance, and tells him that he’s counting on him. Despite their nagging rivalry, they can be such bros.
After they’ve left, Hak goes out of their chamber and exclaims a little too indiscreetly how creepy the people are, knowing that they are watching their every move.
On their way to the supposed dead end, Yona admits that when Hak is around, she relies on him too much, that he has served and obeyed her father even after his death, and that someday, she’d like to “set him free”.
Yun still can’t believe that the dead end has a hidden passage. When Yona opens it, Ki-ja senses a disturbance. He tells them that the Blue Dragon is in there and that they both should to go ahead without mentioning the incoming trouble. Taking a hint from Ki-ja, Yun reassures Yona that being a bishounen genius, he knows the way.
Ki-ja then turns to the masked villagers lurking behind them. The villagers proclaim that they cannot let those who know of the secret passage be. Ki-ja stands his ground, saying that they have forgotten the Red Dragon’s nobility. Goodness, Ki-ja’s more badass when he’s actually being bad-ass.
Masked man senses the White Dragon nearby and two strangers on their way to him. Awaiting them with sword in hand, he vows to vanquish all enemies. Yona and Yun finally meet the masked man, who starts to get worked up again. She greets him with a warm konnichiwa though she is greeted back by an intense scream and a sword pointed at her. Instead of feeling urgent at Yun’s suggestion, Yona picks up the squirrel she saw earlier although it’s a bit fatter due to eating.
She asks the masked man of its name. After eight seconds of feeling shock and hesitation, he softly replies with “Ao”. “The name doesn’t suit him!” Yona snaps back. He probably couldn’t make sense of what he was thinking and just thought “It doesn’t suit him… I knew it… I agree…”. How cute… and awkward. But still cute.
Yona introduces herself and asks him of his name. He says he is the Blue Dragon but Yona knows better that that is not his real name. He says that he doesn’t have one and that he’s just the Blue Dragon.
Yona approaches him gently but he turns hostile again and the point of his sword mere inches away from her face. Unfazed, she tells him that they came to the village to see him, that she wants him to lend her his power.
Angered by her words, he grabs her by the collar, sword still in hand. “Those who desire the power of the Blue Dragon are enemies!” he declares. His hands tremble. He never knew her before but he felt as though he wanted to meet her. He puts down his sword, hands trembling again. She tells him that she only has good intentions and wants him to become his ally. He is taken by the word as if it were foreign language.
He rejects her offer, saying that he is cursed and the outside world must never learn of his destructive curse. He demands them to leave. But before they did, Yona turns around and says
Your hand was very warm. I don’t know anything about your curse. But if that was the hand of a cursed man, then I don’t care, even if you do bear a horrific curse.
The Blue Dragon is even more distraught now that Yona’s left. He only just remember that he’s always wanted friends but that didn’t seem possible. He declined probably his first and only offer.
Yona wonders if the Blue Dragon is living well. His room is empty and dark and she feels as though she “left someone very important in a dark cage”.
When they reach the entrance, they find Ki-ja confronting a mob. The villagers threaten to “finish” them. (They haven’t even started anything yet so why “finish”? -_-) Ki-ja explains that they intend to eliminate them to keep the Blue Dragon hidden.
The villagers pull out their knives. One attacks Ki-ja but he retaliates by hitting him with his right arm, breaking his mask into pieces.
Yona asks them why the Blue Dragon has to be shunned and why his powers are considered a curse.
Just then, the earth above them shakes. Everyone runs to get out of the narrow space. Hak and his Thunder Beast senses the danger Yona’s in (and the earthquake) and runs to find her. The falling rocks deter him from reaching the hidden door. When the dust is settled, he looks up to find that the passageway is blocked by boulders.
For the first time (perhaps), we see Hak scared and frantic. He drops his hsu quandao and digs through solid rock with his bare hands, shedding blood once again to no avail. He berates himself for not being able to protect her and begs King Il in heaven not to take her away.
While unconscious, Yona admits to herself that, without Hak, she really is scared.
When the earthquake has subsided, she wakes up and finds their end blocked by boulders. Everybody’s panicking and Yun confirms his claustrophobia.
In the form of a small voice in his head, Ki-ja is reminded that Hak is counting on him to keep Yona safe. Yona comforts Yun with a bit of optimism.
Ki-ja unwraps his right hand and prepares to dig. The villagers learn of his power and that there are other dragons possessing the curse. They all suddenly begin to blame the Blue Dragon. Yona asks for the umpteenth time why the Blue Dragon is considered cursed and they explain the many evil things he has left in his wake, affecting the village as a whole.
Ki-ja senses his presence and the Blue Dragon comes out of his hole. He walks slowly; the villagers in his path stand in fear. One hits him and takes out his mask, revealing breathtakingly beautiful eyes, as Yona remarks.
It’s a great start for the second cour of Akatsuki no Yona. It feels as though the first one ended with the wrong arc. But seeing how it faithfully adapts the manga (and I’m glad of this), I don’t mind.
It may take some time getting used to how dead serious situations can easily be turned on its head with a shoujo manga semi-moe moment. The balance is not quite perfect yet with the shifting but it does add better understanding of the characters in its own little way.
Two things about this episode: Yona and the Blue Dragon and Yona and Hak.
The Blue Dragon was raised in persecution and ignorance. He was born with a power people feared. It’s been handed down for generations. Nobody knew why or how it came to be, thus labeling it as a curse that has brought forth evil. Now grown up, he accepted his fate and lives in total darkness away from the rest of the village, separated only by a mere hidden door.
To his surprise though, Yona approaches him without fear and it may be the most heartwarming encounter. For a guy who hasn’t seen kindness all his life, it’s only natural for him to be wary. The last bunch of people who wanted him for his powers had bad intentions, remember?
For Yona to bring him out of his misery would be a beautiful (and a tad predictable). She may not fully understand what it is to be shunned and persecuted but she gives him the chance to come out of his cove and to love himself and the powers that were unwillingly bestowed to him.
The Blue Dragon is a great addition to our lovely soft-core reverse harem gang (and he might be my favorite too!).
Now to the part everyone loves.
The YonaxHak pairing has taken us up and down and around ever since they left Hiryuu Castle. Whatever situation they are in, there is always the underlying clause: Hak strives to protect her no matter what for duty and for love and Yona does her best not to be the damsel in distress. The combination of the two leaves a whole lot of space for growth.
Being separated by a bunch of boulders might actually do them good. Hak needs to learn how to trust other people, most especially Yona. We see him distressed and agitated trying to reach her. Finally, this is a time where he can’t control the situation and he can pray that she is alright.
Yona, on the other hand, gains more and more courage in every episode. Last season, she faced so many challenges she’d never have dreamed of, even standing up for her right to fight. But to our surprise, she is not yet convinced that she can do things independently. Of course, we’d love to see her being able to fend for herself but her relying on Hak who willingly does anything for her is too nice a fact for us to hate.
You can see the contrast here: Hak needs to trust others and Yona needs to trust herself. At most, they know where they stand but they don’t know what they need. The situation may be cut short in the next episode (as the preview shows). Nevertheless, it is a development we all want to see.
What do you think of this week’s episode? Leave a comment below.
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