「咆哮」 (Hōkō)

And so the fire is lit within our princess.

In popular culture and in the study of politics, we tend to assume that good rulers are those who care for the people and who go out of their way to make lives better for them. That’s more difficult in practice than in saying because different people have different wants and needs, but it’s true that Princess Yona before this experience wasn’t necessarily among the class of good rulers. She lived a cushy life in the palace and didn’t know a thing about the world outside, and though she wasn’t necessarily a bad person, she was ignorant and unfit to rule a country by herself. That’s not quite true anymore.

Deposed and on the run, Yona has now been exposed to her former subjects. She’s met the kind and generous Wind Tribe and seen the horrible things the Fire Tribe have committed in Soo-won’s name. She understands that being passive isn’t an option anymore; by staying in Fuuka she puts Hak’s whole family in danger, and by just letting Hak protect her she paints a big red target over his heart. Being a princess is no longer about luxury, it’s about existing as a danger to those around her. She knows there’s no way she’s going to be able to survive on her own though, so she coerces Hak into taking her with him. Commanding him is what she knows how to do best, and she uses that to prove her determination.

Determination is one thing in passing, but another entirely when under a barrage of arrows and swords. When Yona and Hak are ambushed by the Fire Tribe’s forces, Yona comes to a much more difficult decision. If she trusts Hak to protect her but does nothing herself, she is essentially condemning him to death in order for her to live. She can’t afford to be the weak princess she’s always been anymore.

They say that there’s nothing fiercer than a cornered wild animal, and I think that’s a pretty good descriptor for who Yona is turning out to be. If Hak dies, Yona will lose everything; her last friend and only protector, and she understands that she won’t survive long without his help right now. Standing by and watching is no longer okay in her eyes, and she jumps into the fray with a true ferocity she never possessed before. Even Tae-jun is visibly shaken by the change as she calls him out on what Soo-won and the Fire Tribe have done. Furious and ready to pounce, Yona has shed her naive and peaceful exterior.

She’s not afraid anymore.

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  1. The tension of Hak’s potential death is undermined by the flash forward in the beginning of this series. That said, the tone isn’t so serious that it hinges on it, with the chibi humour moments being very welcome in my opinion.

    Rather annoyed at the arrow moments though. Realistically, Hak would’ve been shot up within the first volley– and shot before the other sword and pole arm users engaged. It is anime logic, but really spear wall formations should’ve been used with arrows trained on him, giving him no room to manuever: The Reds just completely bungled it.

  2. Hak is a pushover when it comes to Yona. Also loved the moment where he asked if she would pay him with her body. Really shows he’s got primal urges for her after all. Even if he wouldn’t act upon those demands, he’s demonstrated that he’s act least fantasized about Yona.

    I really hope Hak doesn’t have a secret awesome-sauce lineage (royal, divine, deus ex machina, etc) that tends to come with being a ‘adopted orphan’ of a general / leader. It’d be cooler if he stood on his own, just raised and shaped by his adopted family & tribe.

  3. I like that you brought up the concept of what it means to be a good ruler Kairi. I’m going to put the rest in the spoiler tags

    Show Spoiler ▼

    As for Yona I’m so happy to see we are starting to see the makings of a great leader in her and that from here on out she will develop her own distinct ways on how to help her people. The girl now knows her weaknesses which means now she knows what she needs to work on in order to be able to protect Hak and her future comrades. I like how well balanced the comedy was in this episode ^_^ It truly felt like I was reading the manga all over again. On the bright side we are now getting closer to the Dragon Arc~~~~

  4. I have a feeling that Yona’s on for a haircut next episode :p That first preview pic plus the fact that we already know that she’s going to do it, don’t leave much to surprise xD

    Really loving this show and getting curious about the meetings with her future allies 🙂

    Jim Dean
  5. This episode ended up being a lot better than I expected. Yona was given a proper (read: not selfish) reason to leave the village, and not only that, but she was so determined to do so that she intended to make Hak leave with her rather than the other way around. I’m more confidant in her reasoning now, though I’m unconvinced concerning Hak. He cited legitimate reasons to not take her only to cave for no solid reason. Given that, I am starting to think he may have feelings for Yona.

    Being surrounded by arrows only for the Fire Tribe to attack with swords would have annoyed me a lot had they not shown Hak destroying arrows mid-air later. I also like that he’s not a one man army, as is very easy to do with many fantasy series. Yona’s attack on the archer was impressive, given her temperament up until now.

    That final scene with Yona’s eyes and hair was awesome.

    The comedy was the only thing I didn’t care for, as usual, though I don’t think it was as much of a detraction as it has been previously.

    Overall it was my favorite episode so far. I want to see the next one!

  6. This show continues to be one of the most underrated shows of the season. It’s so good yet it feels like noone is watching it. It’s great to see Yona starting to be more pro-active and I am really looking forward to see her progress to the awesomeness we saw in the flashbacks.

  7. Kairi, forgive me for correcting you, but what you described is an Indo-European leader. In China, Korea, Japan, Dai Viet etc a leaders job was to live a moral life to show his/her subjects correct behavior for their lives.

    1. Its true that Emperors had to live a moral lifestyle (but the context is different for each country in both South-East and East Asia) But from what I read about in their histories there are have been several cases of interfamily struggle on whom will achieve the throne in order for whatever faction wants to obtain power. Granted not all leaders in that struggle were puppets. In the case Korea King Yeongjo he was a benevolent ruler but he was also know to be ruthless when he needed to be which often often people to wonder if he was either borderline mad or benevolent. In the case of China since there were over 1000 women in the Emperor harem there are several stories about how those women with the support of their politically strong families would “get rid” their rivals in order to achieve the throne for their sons. I can name other examples of good rulers that got to the throne via “dirty means” but I think your example Kairi of questioning what is a good ruler definitely applies here still because whether as puppets or not they often questioned what it meant to be a benevolent ruler and ensure their place on the throne.


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