Yona of the Dawn
Episode 24

by Rebecca Silverman,

There are endings that wrap everything up in a nice little bow and endings that just sort of stop. Then there are those like Yona of the Dawn's final episode: ones which imply that the story goes on without us. Since the manga the anime is based on is still going, that sort of ending was one of two possibilities, and I'll admit that I'm glad there wasn't some sort of fabricated finale for the show. On the other hand, the ending of this series makes it seem as if we were just watching the prologue with the real story yet to come, and that's a little frustrating.

Equally at issue is how incredibly simple finding the last dragon in. Where it took nearly the entire series of twenty-four episodes to collect Gi-ja, Sinha, and Jeaha, Jeno just sort of shows up in their camp while Yun is grilling up some fawn for dinner. (Sorry, Bambi lovers.) While we could make guesses about what he was doing so close to where the other three dragons just happened to be – such as that he might have been wandering around looking for Yona and the others on his own, which does feel like a real possibility given his chat with the moon midway through the episode – it still feels almost silly how easy it is for him to join the team. Interestingly enough the other characters seem to feel this was as well, and it looks like Gi-ja, at least, is not impressed with the Yellow Dragon in the slightest. Jeno himself seems like a fun character, presumably hiding something more under his light-hearted, eternally hungry exterior, but with only half an hour to get to know him, he feels more like a throwaway than he ought to.

Of course, now that Yona has assembled all four dragons, plus Hak and Yun (the sword and shield?), the question arises of what exactly she wants to do with them. (“Form a harem” does not appear to be on the table.) As some of us have expected given the basic fantasy storyline the show has been following, Yona decides that protecting the kingdom is her top priority, which, she seems to imply, may eventually lead to her return to the castle. That we will not, as of this writing, be able to share in what look to be her Robin Hood-style exploits is a real shame. But perhaps more interesting, and probably important, is the fact that she and Su-won appear to share a similar goal. Both want to repair the kingdom that King Il's kindness inadvertently damaged; it's just that Su-won took a more violent path to get there. Both also appear to be really thinking over their motives and methods, and when eventually they meet again, it should make for some interesting conversation, assuming death isn't on the menu.

Perhaps that's the greatest fault of this final episode – there are just so many possibilities for the story beyond this point. While we can certainly read the French edition of it and continue to hope for an announcement for the manga in English, essentially we're left with only half the story. It isn't as big a disappointment as the ending to Blue Spring Ride, which did something similar, but it still is a disappointment. Will Yona take back her kingdom? Will she and Su-won ever reconcile? Will she ever notice that Hak is in love with her? What secret is Jeno hiding? How can Ik-su see through those bangs? We'll have to hope for another season to find out, which is the real tragedy of this ending.

But it has been a great ride. Even with an ending that doesn't finish the story, Yona of the Dawn has consistently been a show with a mix of action, humor, and pathos with a distinctive setting and memorable characters, not to mention a stellar vocal cast. It certainly will bear rewatching when Funimation releases it on disc. It isn't the best ending (which would have been no ending at this point), but ultimately this series holds up to the end as one of the best titles I've had the pleasure to watch in recent years.

Rating: B+

Yona of the Dawn is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.com.

Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.

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