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Well, my anime season is, for the moment, shot. First the new MST season hit, then Nyaa died (which I can work around but yes, it's a disruption for me), so I just kind of decided to let it slide. If I go back and catch up on anything, it'll be Uchouten Kazoku.

But in the meantime, I was having a craving to watch Kdrama, so I decided to indulge that instead.


Now, confession up front, Akatsuki no Yona got me into this. When I fell in love with it, I quickly realized that I knew embarrassingly little about Korea --- still do, really, but I've been trying to learn a bit more, got hold of some basic history textbooks. And I started poking around at costume/period Kdramas. Not a reliable source for Authentic Facts, but if I'm playing around with a fantasy of historical Korea, "hey, let's see how the Koreans do that stuff" seems like a creditable impulse.

I spent some time sampling first episodes on Viki, enough to get my bearings and find that the obvious analogue does indeed hold --- if you want to find Kdramas that look like they're set in Kouka, look for ones set in the Three Kingdoms period in Goguryeo. Oh, and priests/oracles were apparently an actual thing, right on through to the Joseon period.

Anyway, now I've finally settled on a show to watch (even though I had to resort to extra-legal sources this time), and I've gotten sucked into bingeing it: "The Legend" --- or, to translate the original title more fully, "The Legend of the Great King and the Four Gods." Those Four Gods in this case, but listen, listen what we got here:

Long ago, a great king descended from heaven and united the land, and he brought along these other four gods, too, and it was actually kind of complicated and then some shit happened but anyway, fast-forward to the time period when our story actually takes place. It's now the Three Kingdoms period in Goguryeo, and there's a village full of people in white robes who live on top of a mountain and have been waiting two thousand years for Our Hero, the reincarnation of the heavenly king, whose birth was announced by a star, and one of these people is the inheritor of one of the four gods' symbols/powers. Later on we meet another one of the inheritors, and he wears a mask all the time because people treat him like a monster and he has scary mass-murder powers that he really just wishes he didn't have to use, and......

Okay, the differences are actually much larger than the similarities, but it's enough to make you go "yeahhh" --- AND, this show did in fact air in Japan in 2008, the year before AkaYona started publication (there was even a tie-in manga which was drawn by Riyoko Ikeda, and I was like "wut??" but yeah, that happened). I would be sincerely surprised if Kusanagi-sensei had not seen this thing.

And if so, IMO she did improve on it. AkaYona's intrigues are less dark and bloody with more of the players fully realized, its characters more dynamic and charming (and way less stupid about their love triangles), and its conflict more balanced and morally gray.

But dang if The Legend isn't fun and addictive.

(It is shamelessly black-and-white in its conflict, tho. The big bad, we're just straight-up told that he's an Evil Sorcerer, and he's so flamboyant about it that it's a meta-textual delight just to watch him --- the guy looks like a Korean Gowron, and while I can't imagine that the director actually told the actor "your nail polish is wet and your beard is an erogenous zone," it would be funny as hell if he had. Some characters on the villain side are enjoyably sympathetic sometimes, but it's always totally clear who's in the wrong, especially when our hero is so shamelessly perfect and heaven is so obviously on his side.)

But anyway, yeah, it's fun and illuminating without being humbling, like. I always suspected that AkaYona had been influenced by Kdramas, especially as it came after a nice crest of the Korean Wave --- Jumong would also have been recent when it started. It's just interesting to dig into the roots, you know?

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