Yona of the Dawn wasn't a show I expected to like as much as I did. It was a show that fit my tastes based on its setting and tags but nothing really struck me at first glance as it becoming one of my favorite anime of all time. But even with that being said, there are some sticky points here and there that keep this from being a masterpiece in my opinion.
**Please be warned that this review will contain some spoilers. **
Story: The anime begins with a young princess named Yona who is celebrating her most recent birthday in the palace. She bears witness to a horrible crime and must run away from home to avoid a similar fate. She is protected by her personal guard as they travel in secret. Soon Yona learns she is part of a mystical prophecy and sets off to round up the 4 dragons that will help her regain control of the kingdom.
It is a decently cliched plot, by all means. The reverse harem can be smelled a mile away. But while I kept it as vague as possible, the intricacies are what make this story stand out. The main villian themself even undergoes a little bit of extra layering by the end so you have a tougher time hating them. So while it may rely on certain tropes, it breaks apart to tell its own tale and is all the better for it.
Animation: Probably the topic I have the least amount to say in. This is a show that will not blow you away with its animation, but its not ugly either. I tended to give it so high because of the ability to switch between the quirky style of the comedic scenes and the normal style for its action sequences. I could tell effort went into staying faithful to the source material and I appreciate that.
Sound: The show mainly focuses on traditional japanese music for its OST. Most songs have this gentle grace to them that could also double as sleep/study aids. My only complaint for this section is that while the 1st OP to the show portrays the rest of the soundtrack well, it just did not instill in me a need to keep relistening to it every episode. Juxtaposed with still image shots of the cast and some scenes straight from the epsidoes themselves, I ended up skipping it often. This was made better with the second OP, which while vastly different from the other tracks, kept my interest much better.
Characters: This is where the true brilliance of this show comes out. When you first meet Yona she is whiny and self-centered. Her biggest worry in life is that her hair makes her stand out too much. But give the girl a few episodes of extreme personality training out in the real world and she morphs into one of the strongest shoujo protagonists I've seen. She is a powerhouse. The other characters in the show are also blessed to have multiple facets to them. Most of the dragons have their backstories laid out bare for viewers to see why they are the way they are. And why their motivations differ so greatly from each other. This only gets better with the OVAs.
Overall: 8.75 out of 10 (rated 9 out of 10 on site)
Overall, as stated above, this anime is probably either #1-2 on my personal favorites. But even with all the love i have for it, the show is not perfect. But for what it is, its an extremely enjoyable watch. And I hope that if you are thinking this show sounds good that you will give it a go. It comes highly recommended from me.