As a typical cis-heterosexual male, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to y’all that reverse harem shows almost never appeal to me. I mean the harem genre is infamous for its low quality but at least it has all that sweet sweet fanservice, once you replace all that with manservice I have no reason to stick around. However, every once in while there comes a show that has such great characters and story, that its genre doesn’t matter. Akatsuki no Yona is one such a show. From here on there will be spoilers, you have been warned.
You know I could at least pretend like I’m going to analyze all of the problems in this show but, to be frank whatever issues I had were so small in comparison to what was good that I was able to ignore them the entire time I was watching. Practically the only bits that get annoying are some of the moments when Yona fawns over Suwon in the first episode, and a few times afterwards when she clings onto the hairpin he gave her like she’s helpless. Other than these brief and infrequent occasions, Yona is kind of a boss. I mean sure she’s as dense to male attention as any typical harem protagonist would be towards female attention, but when that girl steps up shit gets done. Especially later in series when she’s built up her courage, stamina and archery skills, there’s a scene in episode 22 or so where she glares at the villain, who’s selling women to another country. Now I’ve seen a ton of great angry glares in my time as an anime fan, it’s something of its own miniature art form within the medium, making intense angry glares, and to date none of them have the impact that Yona’s does during the scene I’m talking about, if you’ve seen the show already you damn well know which scene it is. Not that Yona stands alone in this regard. Hak in particular is a total badass both in personality and physical ability. The Dragons are all very fun to watch in combat though none of them save perhaps Jeha the Green Dragon are forces of personality. In summary the characters are great, which is really fucking rare from harem and reverse harem genres.
The other thing that really drew me into the series was the setting, an ancient China-esque kingdom surrounded by potential enemies and fractured into four separate tribes who serve the emperor. The landscapes, cityscapes, villages and lore all felt very authentic and appropriate to the setting. I think the history genre tends to get those things right better than most shows but still, it’s a very lively, believable and engaging world, it’s easy to get immersed in and that’s not true for a lot of series out there. It’s also very pretty to look at, I know as animation techniques get better and better, it gets harder and harder to find truly ugly art and animation, but even so Akatsuki no Yona’s stands out as particularly beautiful. I sort of question why each tribe separated by element Avatar style but whatever, it’s minor detail that doesn’t distract the viewer’s attention from the gorgeous and interesting world of the story. The action is also a big plus. Harem action tends to be abysmal for the most part, it can be ridiculous and amusing but rarely do I walk into a harem or reverse harem to wowed by the action. Not so in Akatsuki no Yona, here the action is excellent, full of powerful strikes, historically accurate weapons, dynamic movement and solid animation throughout.
The story is still ongoing and I’m very much looking forward to what comes next, but for now I’m impressed with the opening chapters of the series that we have so far. So impressed in fact that I’d say this show is among the top 5 shows released since the Fall 2014. That might seem like fairly weak praise given that that was just a year ago, but Fall 2014 in particular was a very strong season, and Akatsuki no Yona did quite well for me to rate it as high as I do. Anyway, this show is great, one of the rare examples of a reverse harem show that doesn’t compromise it’s quality in any way despite its genre, and if you haven’t started watching it yet, you are missing out. I highly recommend this one to everyone. Hopefully you enjoyed this post, I’ll see you in the next one.