「ふるえる覚悟 (Furueru kakugo)
“Shaking Resolve”

Author’s Note: O-Kairi is laid up with a nasty bug and out of commission for a couple of days – she’ll be back with arrow nocked, covering Akatsuki no Yona next week…

Also – thanks to Samu-kunai for providing the screencaps!

They just had to go ahead use the word “Moribito”, didn’t they?

It was a quiet week in Kouka, not my home kingdom. But with this series that doesn’t mean important stuff didn’t happen, both in terms of character and plot. Akatsuki no Yona doesn’t have a whole lot of wasted energy – everything is directed towards something, even if it’s simply filling out our impressions of a character in the ever-growing cast. It wasn’t the most exciting episode so far, but it was certainly a thought-provoking one.

Perhaps most thought-provoking was a short, “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” pre-OP look-in at Soo-won and Kye-sook (nah, this isn’t Korea at all…) back at the castle. This is about all we’ve been getting of Soo-won lately, but with every glimpse his character grows more fascinating and perplexing. Here we see Kye-sook bring him the news that, as Soo-won suspected, a corrupt official has been plundering the treasury for his own gain. Several things are interesting here – first, that the man was “dismissed” (rather than, say, killed or imprisoned). Second was Soo-won’s reaction – “King Il was a kind man, and kindness is not a crime. But sometimes it awakens the greed and selfishness in others.”

Does this play as the interaction of two sociopaths, or even villains? Not to me. Rather, it further cements the impression of Soo-won as a man who’s become cold and hard, perhaps, but in pursuit of what he sees as noble goals. Soo-won is not a raving lunatic – he’s calm and rational, and he’s done what based on what we know seem to be terrible things. Why did he feel such deeds were necessary? I love this element of his character, which makes him one of the most compelling antagonists we’ve seen in anime for ages. As a bonus, he’s also looking at the story of the Four Dragons, which Il had forbidden anyone to read – though Soo-won seems skeptical of its veracity. If indeed Il forbade anyone to read it, does that mean he knew what his daughter was, and was trying to protect her from the dangers implied and the burden of her history? That would synch with the image of him as a man who sought to avoid conflict to the point of disfunction – which seems in large measure to be the reason Soo-won murdered and deposed him.

I got two paragraphs out of the first 45 seconds of the episode and it easily could have been more – that’s some fine writing the series displays here. But there was indeed other stuff going on, as we rejoin Yona and Hak on the road, now with Yoon in tow. I rather like the three-way dynamic of this group, though it seems as if it’s going to be quite short-lived. Yoon easily slips into his role as both the “domestic” and the strategist, but he’s keenly aware of his own vulnerabilities as a fighter. Both he and Yona are fully cognizant of the extent to which they rely on Hak to survive, and so is he – and I think it makes all three of them uncomfortable. But the alternative makes Hak even more uncomfortable, as he passes up the opportunity to purchase a lightweight “self-defense sword” for Yona, instead reiterating his intention of doing the protecting (which was a rather careless slip in front of the weapons merchant, I thought).

In many ways this part of the journey has been about Yona’s awakening desire to assert some control of her own life, so it’s inevitable that she’s going to declare her desire to learn self-defense sooner or later. When she does, Hak relents only to the point of agreeing to teach her archery – he won’t show her the sword (yet). She can shoot from a distance, concealed, while he fights – but in addition to her strength and skills, Yona is lacking something else in the use of the bow and arrow. There’s a very revealing conversation between she and Yoon, where he admits that he’s skilled with the weapon himself (sasuga) but reluctant to wield it. Why? Because when you pick up a weapon you have to be prepared to kill, and all the more when you’re “weak” as the two of them are. Hak can afford to hold back because of his fearsome strength – people like Yoon and Yona have to know how to exploit fatal vulnerabilities, or try and win a battle of wits.

This is a really intelligent, incisive analysis of the situation – as you’d expect from Yoon, and as you’d expect from Akatsuki no Yona. As far as Hak’s training of Yona he proves (again, as you’d expect) to be a poor teacher, as those naturally gifted at something often are. But Yona proves that she’s willing to pay the price in sweat and blisters once she sets her mind to a task, and she does improve – though she still lacks the final piece that Yoon referred to. Hak actually challenges her to try and his him as he moves, and he dodges easily – it’s only when he mentions Soo-won that she fires with intent and draws blood. “I hate this side of you.” she says tearfully, but declares her willingness to “sacrifice someone” in order to protect him. “Don’t say you’ll protect me.” Hak mumbles. “It stirs my desire.”

That’s great stuff right there, but events are catching up with the character arcs by this point – the trio have arrived at the mysterious “village hidden by mists” where Ik-su has told them the first of their Dragons may be (the only one whose location he can guess at). And Yoon – who Hak sent ahead while he engaged Yona in target practice – has been captured. This is something like a ninja village, seemingly, and its inhabitants quite willing to kill outsiders to maintain their secret existence. But that all changes when they see Yona’s red hair, and it’s obvious that we’ve arrived at the point where the first of the Four Dragons will make their appearance – the White Dragon the village is protecting. And with that, Akatsuki no Yona will seemingly enter another new phase in its narrative arc.




  1. @ENZO Glad to get a post from you, even if it is just filling in for Kairi (@kairi:get well soon!). I just saw a comment bemoaning your(enzo’s) relative absence over in the monthly impressions post. Hope every things going well with the break and all.

    I thought this episode was as good as always. This show’s pretty consistent, and even though the plot moves at what feels like a snails pace to me, it’s so well done and still fun to watch that i keep coming back for more. Would that all shows were committed to this kind of quality development…

    Random Comment
  2. I feel like a lot of the trouble they went through hiding Yona’s identity could be avoided if she just dyed her hair… I mean I’m sure there were natural dyes you could make with berries or something while you’re on the run from the fire nation the fire tribe. It’s more exciting this way though, of course.

  3. The English subtitles are wrong when they said King Il forbade people from reading that book. After listening carefully to Keishuk, you can hear him say “Yuhon-sama”, who is Suwon’s father. It makes much more sense to have the man who had also banished the priests to have done that than the man who read that tale to his baby girl as a bedtime story.

  4. I love that Yona is learning how to be more useful not only to protect Hak and her friends but how to protect herself. I’m sure she has thought about over and over again how useless she felt when her father and Min-soo were murdered. Stuff like that can make you re-evaluate the value of life and how easily it can be taken away. I also like Hak development in this episode too. He clearly wants to obey the orders of the former king but realistically that is impossible considering how difficult it will be if Hak is the only one who has to do the protecting. I also get he loves Yona and the natural instinct is that you want to protect the person you love, but even he realizes that her staying the way she was before will not help anybody. I want to add I like how he does not hold her back and supports her in a lot of of her decisions (even though he is not 100% on wielding weapons its getting there).

    As for the relationship between Yu-hon and IL it is still a mystery to me. liloaznangel already pointed on the error in translation which goes to show why nobody should rely on crunchyroll subtitles 100% (I saw the episode raw and was really surprised over crunchyroll subtitles which can create a lot of misunderstandings for both new and old fans of the series. Even though it was an anime original scene with Su-Won it does highlight existing theories about Yu-hon and IL. It does make me wonder if Yu-hon paranoia over the spiritual aspects of the kingdom was going to lead him to do something terrible to Yona? (considering she has red hair like Hiryuu)

    Literally anyone’s guess is as good as mines because the only thing we know is Su-Won POV on the matter.

  5. Soo-won strikes me rather as “Well Intentioned Extremist” rather than classic “Card Carrying Villain”. He is definitely a patriot wanting the best for his country, and probably has grown to see the late King as ineffective and endanegering the state. And medieval kingdoms did not have elections nor impeachment procedures…
    As for the Yona and her gang, it is fascinating to see the frail shielded princess to grow thorns. The killing intent she emanates at mention of Soo-won is one thing, her desire to protect Hak is second motivation that drives her forward to learn to fight. I guess one of the conflicts we shall see later on is which motivation is stronger…

  6. Ep 15:

    Just to tell you guys, they gave this Show a New OP and END.. And the pacing is still so slow.. i dunno. I feel like i wish they could warp the time line a bit better up. So much talk about nothingness.. Oh well

    1. Why they gave this Earth General so much Screen-time? Is he that important in the Future? Will the Show give every general that much Screen-time? Then when the “Action” of her Counterattack will begin? 2016 in the 4th Season?

      1. i see it, when she find all her beloved Dragon Warriors, we should be around episode 22. And if this Anime only has 24 Episodes to Air, then we will get a Miraculous Super Fast Conquering of these Dragons the Entire Kingdom. Remember, it is not only the King that desire this change. This King is backup of Generals that want the War back

      2. and we have her a Hime-sama that must gain the Village peoples trust. I wonder how they will done the pacing. If they do not take attention, i will see a 2nd Tokyo ESP pacing disaster

  7. ep 20:

    After i tame my own impatience, i began to enjoy this Anime again to its fullest

    i am happy, that i stick to it. But i have a feeling that we will see an 2nd Season announcement.

    1. but really, come on. He can sense some intense Blood-lust and paralysis for how many Seconds?

      But i must admit, the idea to pimp up the ED with Vocals, reminded me of Ar Tonelico Magic Voices

  8. Ep 24 (End):

    Well, “Thanks for your Support”. i mean this is the End

    it was a Nice Anime, Yona was really a Strong Girl. It was nicht to see her changing from an Princess living inside a Golden Cage, only knowing the inside world, into a Girl that want to change the World and became Strong and Lead

    i loved her way into this Destination.

    Graphics: 8/10
    Music: 6/10 (after OP2) 8/10 … Yeah i am an Ar Tonelico Fanboy (you got me there)
    Story: 7.5/10

    Enjoyment to Watch: 9/10

    It was a Pleasure to walk the same Path as you “Akatsuki no Yona”. You Entertain me very well

    1. But i dunno, The Manga slowly begin to focus on War.. I think i will miss this “peaceful Times” with her

      The Way is the target, dear Manga-ka. Not the retaken or free the Empire (assembles strong of today China…)


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