Character Building in Coming of Age Fantasy: Yona & Arslan

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This year, we’ve seen two adapted fantasy shows that covered a lot of the same ground, Akatsuki no Yona and Arslan Senki. Both series carry the familiar premise of sheltered teen noble thrown into chaotic circumstances, gather a Party of Heroes™ to reclaim what they’ve lost, and grow up a bit in the process. Drawing inspiration from ancient Korea and Persia/Iran respectively, they also have enticing cultural flavor and substantial amount of geopolitics to accompany the standard fantasy hero arc.

Yet, in spite of all those similarities, Yona and Arslan had markedly different approaches in fleshing out and developing its characters. Only one of them managed to have me properly invested in its characters (and, by extension, its plot), and here’s where I’m going to pinpoint on the how’s and why’s.

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